Preparing for an interview

Interviewing is important for landing your internship or job. To interview with confidence, check out the following advice on the four steps of the interview process:

  1. Research
  2. Prepare
  3. Interview
  4. Writing thank you notes

1. Learn as much as possible about the organization or company

  • What is the mission, goal or purpose of the organization?
  • What kind of content do you see on their official website?
  • Has the company been in the news recently?
  • What projects or initiatives are they currently working on?
  • How much do you know about the culture of the organization? How big is the organization? How many employees work for them?
  • Talk to anyone you know who works at the organization or check out LinkedIn. Perhaps there are alumni working for the company you could speak with to learn more.

Take notes:

  • Prepare a list of some company facts and research
  • Highlight some skills and important aspects of the job description

2. Prepare

Using the skills and important aspects of the job description (gathered in step 1), use the STAR acronym to develop strong examples that illustrate those skills. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. 

Example STAR:
S - SituationT - TaskA - ActionR - Result
I was participating in a research project in the Cognition and Action Neuroimaging lab where we manage toddlers’ interactions and behaviors.One of the children got really sick during one of our sessions.I took initiative and went to our emergency contact information database to contact the child’s parent.I was able to calm the child down without upsetting the other children and her father was really thankful for the way I handled the situation. He ensured us his daughter would be back to participate as soon as she was feeling better.
This STAR story relates to the following questions:
  • Tell me about a time you had to handle a difficult situation?
  • Describe a situation in which you worked as part of a team and what role you had within the team.
  • Give me an example of your problem solving capabilities. (and others questions)

While compiling your list of STARs, think about some of these typical interview questions that you may be asked:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why are you interested in working with our organization?
  • What is one of your greatest strengths?
  • What is one of your greatest weaknesses?

At the end of the interview, you will have the opportunity to ask the employer questions. Try to ask questions that genuinely interest you, but also show your knowledge of the organization.

• What is the culture of the organization?
• How do you see new staff contributing to the (initiative, project, etc.)?
• What are your goals for this position in the first year?

Use this formula to brainstorm potential questions:

this is what I know + this is why I care + so tell me more about...

Example: I read that your company is increasing its philanthropic contributions by 20% + I have always been passionate about fundraising for nonprofits + can you tell me more about this new initiative?

You can always use Google to find industry specific interview questions as well.


4. Writing a thank you note

Saying thank you is an important part of the interview process.