Interview Skills

An interview is an opportunity to convince an employer that you have the skills, experience, knowledge, and qualities to do the job in question. Explain how you will help the organization and why you specifically want to work there. Find out if this organization or job is the right match for you.

What an Employer Wants to Know:

  • “Why do you want to work for us?” (Why are you interested in us?)
  • “Why should we hire you?” (What can you do for us? What are your skills?)
  • “What are you like as a person?” (Personal qualities, strengths, weaknesses, cultural competency, motivation)

Prepare for the Interview:

Evaluate

  • Evaluate how your education, skills, experiences, strengths/weaknesses, and past successes/failures will meet the employer’s needs
  • Identify your top 5 skills for the job (What would your boss say are your strengths? What makes you different?)
  • Identify 5 different scenarios that demonstrate those skills (a class project, volunteering, student org, etc.)

Research

Know what the company does
A student meeting with an employer at UNH's Resume Review Day
  • Review the company’s webpage to better understand the company focus
  • Follow the company on social media (LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  • Talk to anyone who may be knowledgeable about the company
  • Use one of the many UNH Dimond Library Business & Economics databases to research companies
Diversity Indicators
  • What does the leadership team look like? Is it a diverse group of people?
  • Do you see people who look like you represented at this organization?
  • Is there any mention of diversity, equity, inclusion, or social justice?
  • Does this organization openly support social issues that are important to you? (i.e. Black Lives Matter?)
  • Do they have any employee affinity groups, and if so, are any of particular interest to you?
  • Does the organization have a clearly articulated plan or mission to diversify their pool of employee candidates?
Culture Indicators 
  • Are there alumni you can reach out to on Wildcat Connections or LinkedIn?
  • Do you see organization-wide initiatives that speak to your values? (for example, sustainability practices, affinity groups, philanthropic pursuits)
  • From their social media presence, what stands out in terms of work culture? Does this appeal to you?
  • Do you see yourself being able to grow professionally in this environment?

Practice

  • Make an appointment with a Career Advisor from the Career and Professional Success team for a practice interview, or practice a video interview with InterviewStream, a free interview training service available to all UNH students 24/7!
  • Practice answering questions on your own, out loud
  • Ask a roommate, family member, or friend to perform a practice interview with you. Be sure to choose someone who will take on the interviewer role in a serious fashion

During the Interview:

  • Arrive 5-10 minutes early, have extra copies of your resume and your list of references
  • Make a good first impression
    • Turn off your cell phone
    • Smile, offer a firm handshake, make eye contact and introduce yourself using your first and last name
    • Establish yourself immediately as prepared and confident
  • Keep answers brief and to the point ― If in doubt, you can always ask, “Does that fully answer your question?”
  • If you lack experience in an area the interviewer asks about, say so, but go on to describe similar experiences or examples indicating your willingness and ability to learn new things
  • Never bad-mouth previous employers or co-workers
  • Your interviewer may ask if you have any final questions or comments ― Take that opportunity to ask thoughtful questions or make a final, compelling personal sales pitch. Express confidence in your ability to succeed at the job and your excitement about the opportunity
  • At the close of the interview, get the interviewer’s business card and offer another firm handshake ― Ask about the next steps in the interview process
  • Above all: show interest, be pleasant and enthusiastic

After the Interview:

  • Always send a thank-you note or email within 24 hours
  • Keep it short, thank them for their time, express interest in the position and company, and make or a remake a key point(s)
  • Proofread before sending

Types of Questions

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What specific skills can you bring to this job?
  • What can you tell us about our company?
  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • Why did you choose your major?
  • How has your college experience prepared you for a career in this industry?
  • What are your experiences in working with people different from you?
  • Have you completed any internships? What did you gain from the experience?
  • What do you think it takes to be successful in a company like ours?
  • What are your short-range and long-range career goals?
  • What is the salary range you are seeking?
  • Case questions, though often hypothetical and focused on the future, are based on real problems or situations encountered in the particular field of the organization interviewing you. 
  • By using case questions, employers can get a sense of your analytical and reasoning skills, problem solving abilities, and your ability to organize and present information.
  • Though there may be many ‘right’ answers to case questions, your goal is to maintain your composure, be articulate, and show that you can think on your feet. 
  • Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. Be ready to provide specific examples of past situations and your involvement. 
  • Frame your example using S.T.A.R.:
    • describe the situation or task you are involved in (set up the story),
    • your actions,
    • and the results or outcomes of your actions

Common Behavioral Interview Questions:

  • What was your biggest challenge as a student, and how did you handle it?
  • Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
  • Give me an example of a team or group project where you had to work with people from different backgrounds.
  • Describe the most significant written document, report, or presentation that you’ve completed.
  • Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to achieve it.
  • Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
  • Talk about a time when you had to "sell" an idea to your coworkers. How did you do it? Did they "buy" it?
  • Which accomplishment on the job gave you more satisfaction than any other?
  • What is your commitment to diversity?  Tell me about a time when you demonstrated this commitment.
  • Give an example of a time when you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision.
  • Tell me about a situation in the past year in which you dealt with a very upset customer or coworker.
  • Tell me about a job experience in which you had to be assertive in order to get a point across that was important to you.
  • What experiences have you had at UNH that exposed you to diversity?
  • Describe a situation where others you were working with on a project disagreed with your ideas. What did you do?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
  • Tell me about a time when you had too many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
  • Tell me about a mistake and what you learned from it.
  • Sometimes it's easy to get in "over your head." Describe a situation where you had to request help or assistance on a project or assignment.
  • Give an example of when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. Why was this person difficult? How did you handle that person?
  • To see a longer list of potential interview questions, visit: Quint Careers
  • What programs are currently in place to promote inclusion?
  • Are your employees required to participate in a facilitated social justice and/or diversity, equity, and inclusion training?
  • What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this job? 
  • What are the attributes of your most successful employees in this position?
  • Could you describe your company's management style and the type of employee who fits well with it?
  • Why did you choose to work for this company?
  • What kind of internal and external training do you provide new employees?
  • How would you describe your company culture?
  • How does your company support diversity in the workplace?
  • What are the performance expectations for this job and what is the time frame for advancement?
  • What are your organization’s goals for the next 3 – 5 years?
  • What do you most enjoy about your work with this organization / company / agency?
  • “Tell me about yourself.” This is an opportunity to briefly highlight skills, education, and experience that the employer is seeking, and to let the employer know why you are interested in the job and the company.
  • “Describe a weakness.” Pick one rather harmless problem from the past that you’re now overcoming. Some people describe a strength that’s gone a bit overboard, such as a tendency toward overwork or perfectionism. Be sure to finish your answer with how you’re making it better.

Interview questions should relate to the job you are seeking and your ability to perform the essential functions of that job.  If asked an illegal question:

  • Address the concern behind the question and respond with an answer that applies to the job. For example, you’ve been asked an illegal question if the interviewer asks “Are you a U.S. citizen?” You could respond with “I am authorized to work in the United States.”
  • Illegal vs. legal questions

Phone & Video Interviews

Get Ready

  • Be prepared for the interview
  • Have a copy your resume on hand
  • Have a pen and paper in case you need to write something down
  • Keep a glass of water nearby in case you need it

Space

  • Make sure to plan where you will be for the interview
  • Make sure it is a quiet, uninterrupted space
  • If you are in a shared space, make sure to let others know, so you will not be interrupted

Speech

  • Speak slowly and clearly
  • Be aware of saying um, uh, etc, it will be amplified in these settings
  • Try not to interrupt the interviewer
  • Practice with a friend to see how answering questions feels over the phone
  • Consider using a landline to avoid potential cell phone service failure
  • Smile, even though they can't see you, it will help the tone of your voice
  • Sit at a desk or table with your material spread out in front of you
  • Sitting upright will help you project your voice more clearly than if you are lying on your bed or couch

Program

  • Most employers will use Skype for video interviews
  • Make sure to download Skype (or the correct program) and log in
  • Test your video by test-calling a friend
  • Test your volume settings for both your microphone and speakers

Space

  • Make sure to plan where you will be for the interview
  • Make sure it is a quiet, uninterrupted space
  • If you are in a shared space, make sure to let others know, so you will not be interrupted
  • Have a clean, neutral background
  • Keep the desk in front of you neat

Practice

  • Practice with a test video call to a friend to see how it will feel

Dress

  • Dress professionally as if you were meeting face to face with an employer
  • Dressing professionally with allow you to switch into that mindset, rather than lounge mode with your sweatpants
  • Review: What to Wear: Women or What to Wear: Men

During the Interview

  • Look directly at the camera, rather than the screen - it will look more like eye contact rather than staring off in space
  • Try not to move around too much, moving around will show much more on the screen than in person
  • Make sure to have good posture and look relaxed
  • Don't forget to smile and stay present
Helpful Tips for Video Interviews: Find a Quiet Space, Be Prepared, Dress Professionally as if you were meeting in person, Speak Slowly, Look into the Camera

What to Wear

Your appearance is important because it is the interviewer’s first impression of you. 

  • Be professional, neat, clean, and well-groomed
  • Being overdressed is better than being underdressed
  • Clothes should be clean and wrinkle-free
  • Test-drive your outfit to ensure you are comfortable walking, sitting, standing
  • Research the industry and company as some companies are more conservative

Suit

Item

Advice

Example

Style
  • Suit separates can either come with pants, skirt or a dress
  • Stick to matching pieces of consistent material and style

"Guide to Basic Women's Suiting"

"How Should an Interview Suit Fit"

Color/Pattern
  • Solid dark colors such as gray, navy or black are the best options for an interview
  • Plaid, pinstripe or patterned suits are not interview appropriate
 
Fit
  • Custom tailored suits are ideal, but in some cases hard to obtain last minute
  • The back should lay flat and not pull or bunch
  • Shoulder pad lines up with edge of shoulders
  • Sleeves are not too tight or to loose
  • The buttons on the front should comfortably button and not pull or tuft
  • Cuffs should rest less than half an inch above the wrist
"Fit Tips for Women's Business Wear"

 

Tops

Item

Advice

Example

Style
  • Collared shirt either long or short sleeved
  • Dressy blouse in a comfortable material
  • Always have a conservative neckline

"10 Things to Know About: Wearing Button-Down Shirts"

"What to Wear Beaneath a Suit Jacket"

How to Wear
  • Tuck shirt or blouse into skirt or pants
 

 

Bottoms

Item

Advice

Example

Skirt/Dress
  • Length should conservative at an inch or two above the knee, but nothing more
  • Should be fitted but comfortable to sit and walk in
  • Be aware of the slit and make sure it does not pull open
  • Always wear pantyhose

"How Should an Interview Suit Fit?"

"Fit Tips for Women's Business Wear"

Pants
  • The bottom hem should be rest on top of the shoe without being too high or sweeping the floor
  • Pants should be fitted but comfortable to sit and walk in
  • Not too wide or skinny

"Fit Tips for Women's Business Wear"

 

Shoes

Item

Advice

Example

Style
  • Pumps or flats are good choices
  • Platforms, sandals or strappy heels are not appropriate
"What Type of Shoes to Wear on a Job Interview"
Color
  • Should be in a dark color coordinating with you suit/outfit
 
Heel Height
  • Must be comfortable to walk in
  • Should be under 2 inches
 

 

Accessories

Item

Advice

Example

Jewelry
  • Simple jewelry and a watch are acceptable
  • No long or distracting jewelry
 
Portfolio
  • A portfolio (leather or otherwise) is a must
  • Bring extra copies of your resume in this portfolio
"What Should I Take to My Job Interview"

 

Grooming

Item

Advice

Example

Hair
  • Neatly styled hair out of your face
  • Wet hair is never acceptable
  • Sunglasses should not be worn as a headband
"Is Your Hair Holding You Back?"
Makeup
  • A minimal natural look is always better
  • Neutral tones are acceptable
  • Stay away from bright eye shadow, blush or lip products
  • No shimmer or glitter
  • Caked on makeup is a don't
"Makeup Tips for Your Job Interview"
Body
  • Shower
  • Wear deodorant, but avoid wearing perfume
  • Clean and trimmed nails         
  • Neutral nail polish   

"5 Hygiene Tips on what to do Before an Interview"

"Grooming Advice"

 

 

 

 

Suit

Item

Advice

Example

Style
  • A single breasted suit is more appropriate than a double breasted suit
  • Two or three button jacket with the bottom button unbuttoned
"Understanding Common Suit Features"
Color/Pattern
  • Solid dark colors such as gray, navy or black are the best options for an interview
  • Plaid, pinstripe or patterned suits are not interview appropriate

"Understanding Common Suit Features" (bottom of page)

Fit
  • Custom tailored suits are ideal, but in some cases hard to obtain last minute
  • The back should lay flat and not pull or bunch
  • Shoulder pads should line up with the edges your shoulders
  • Sleeves are comfortable, not too tight or loose
  • Cuffs should rest an half an inch above the wrist allowing a bit of your long sleeved dress shirt to show
"How a Suit Should Fit"

 

Shirt

Item

Advice

Example

Fit
  • Long sleeved, collared shirts are a must
  • Collar should fit your neck without being too tight or too loose
  • Always tuck the shirt in
"How a Shirt Should Fit"
Color/Pattern
  • A solid, neutral color is best
  • Solid white is the most common and safest choice
"Understanding the Dress Shirt"
Material
  • A cotton material will allow you to breathe
 

 

Tie

Item

Advice

Example

Style/Knot
  • Conservative is the way to go
  • Keep the knot simple
"Learn How to Tie a Tie"
Color/Pattern
  • A simple color or pattern to compliment the suit and shirt
  • The tie should be a darker shade than the shirt
"How to Match Shirt and Tie Patterns"
Width/Length
  • Width should not be too wide or skinny
  • Length should not be too long or short
  • The bottom tip of the tie should reach the belt/waistline
"Necktie Length"

 

Pants

Item

Advice

Example

Style
  • Pants are to be worn on the top of the hips
  • Pleated or non-pleated, non-pleated is preferred
"The Pleated vs. Plain-front Debate"
Color/Pattern
  • Match the pants with the jacket
  • A suit (jacket/pants) should be bought as a set whenever possible
 
Length/Fit
  • The "break" of your pants is the crease that forms at the bottom of your pants when it reaches your shoes
  • There should be some break but not too much

"How Pants Should Fit"

 

Shoes

Item

Advice

Example

Color
  • Shoe color should coordinate with the suit
  • Black or brown shoes are the most common
"A Visual Guide to Matching Suits and Dress Shoes"
Style
  • Shoes should be clean and polished
 
Socks
  • Always wear dark dress socks
  • Socks should match the general color of the shoe 
    • ex. brown shoes = brown socks
  • Do not wear white socks with brown or black shoes
 

 

Accessories

Item

Advice

Example

Amount
  • Accessories should be at a minimum
 
Belt
  • A belt to keep your pants at your hips
  • Coordinate the color with your shoes

 

 

Watch
  • Wear a watch if you have one
  • Only wear a watch is you feel comfortable wearing it
  • Make sure the style matches the outfit
    • Not too casual like an athletic watch or something too fancy and distracting

 

Portfolio
  • A portfolio (leather or otherwise) is a must
  • Bring extra copies of your resume in this portfolio
 

 

Grooming

Item

Advice

Example

Facial Hair
  • Facial hair should be shaved or minimal and well groomed
  • Clean up sideburns and back of neck for a clean look
 
Hair
  • Neat, brushed and away from face if its longer
  • Avoid "Faux Hawk" or spiked hair
  • Stay away from bright colored hair dye
"How to Style Your Hair for a Job Interview"
Body
  • Shower
  • Wear deodorant, but avoid wearing cologne
  • Clean and trimmed nails

"Essential Grooming Tricks"

"5 Hygiene Tips on What to do Before an Interview"