It is natural to feel nervous before an interview. We often ask ourselves, "What should I say? How should I dress? What kind of questions will they be asking me? Do I ask questions? Where do I begin?" 

"The best way to think of an interview is to visualize a focused conversation where you and the hiring manager/committee are exchanging information in order to come to a decision. For the interviewer, this means learning more about your experience, skill set, and personality. For you as a candidate, it means finding out about the employer’s needs and showing how you can add value if they decide to bring you on as part of the team. It is also a chance for you to determine whether the role is right for you and whether the company is a place where you would really thrive." (WayUp, What is an Interviewn.d.).

CDAE has prepared some helpful tips and guidelines to help you gain confidence and feel successful throughout the process, both in-person and virtually.

We highly recommend you take the time to review our resources to help you prepare for your next interview or networking event:

  • Interview Handbook - The Interview Handbook guides you through the process on how to respond to common interview questions such as, "Tell me about yourself?" or "Tell me about a time when...?"
  • Phone/Virtual Interview Tips - It is not uncommon for recruiters to schedule an interview via phone as a first step in the interview process. As more opportunities become remote/virtual, the phone interview will continue to be more common. Make sure to review our Tips for a Phone Interview. Virtual platforms such as ZOOM, Interview Stream and My Interview have gained in popularity. It is important to prepare ahead of time, and anticipate potential glitches, such as internet connectivity and location. We recommend you take the time to review our Helpful Tips and Guidelines infographic and our quick video on how to prepare for a Phone or Zoom Interview
  • Interview Prep Worksheet - Interview questions are based on the idea that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. That is why employers like to ask behavioral interview questions. These types of questions usually begin with the phrase, “Tell me about a time when…” or “Give me an example of…” The golden rule when answering behavioral interview questions is to use the STAR Method: Situation/Task, Action, Result. Using this Interview Prep Worksheet can help you prepare to answer behavioral questions and draw from a variety of examples. 
  • Network like a Pro - Attending networking events is a great opportunity to cultivate and maintain relationships. It can be a mutual exchange of information, advice, and support, and beneficial for both parties. Review our helpful tips on how to Network Like a Pro.
  • Informational Interviews - An informational interview is an opportunity to connect with someone in your field of interest and to gain information and knowledge about their expertise and the steps they took along the way to obtain their position. Additionally, it is a great way to identify what organizations are looking for in a prospective candidate. By interviewing someone in your field of interest you will find out tips and strategies on how to enter the field. You will also learn about the challenges associated with the position and get recommendations on how to become a competitive applicant. Review our Informational Interview Guidelines.
  • Virtual Career Fair Guide - Attending a Career Fair can be overwhelming. Preparing for a Career Fair is very similar to preparing for an interview or networking event. We recommend following the same tips and guidelines. CDAE has prepared some helpful tips to help you feel successful throughout the process of attending a virtual career fair, Virtual Career Fair Guide,Career Fair Success.

Interview Preparation

Similar to studying for an exam, you have a better chance of getting a good grade if you take the time to prepare ahead of time. Practicing your responses to specific interview questions will make you feel more at ease and more confident when you interview. Practicing answers to interview questions does not mean you should memorize exact answers and recite them during an interview. Working with common questions and your answers will help you to get comfortable with the interview process and the type of information you would ideally share in an interview. This will help you to clearly articulate answers to any question.

*Always remember to be authentic and true to yourself throughout the process.

Interview Handbook

Major AreaTypical QuestionsHow to Prepare

Are you focused?

Do you articulate your career goals and how your skills, interests, and background support your career aspirations?

Typical questions asked around this area of concern include:

  1. What do you see yourself doing in five years?
  2. Describe your ideal job.
  3. What classes did you enjoy the most/least, why?
  4. Do you plan to return to school for further education?

Take some time for self-reflection

Do not just say what they want to hear, really think about what direction you want your career to take, what you want from a job, etc.

If the job is a good fit for you, there will be an intersection between your honest answers and what you will get out of that job.

Do you know about the organization?

Have you taken the time to learn about the company? Do you find the company’s work to be important and


Typical questions asked include:

  1. Why are you interested in our organization?
  2. What do you know about our services/products?
  3. In what type of setting do you best work? (Do you need few interruptions, do you like working in groups or individually, etc.)

The key for these questions, is to do your research.

Company’s website – look at their services; review the staff job titles or biographies if available, etc.

Search on – Internet articles that discuss the company or industry.

Attend a Career & Internship Fair meet with recruiters from local organizations.

Ask around. People you know may be familiar with the organization; get their perspectives.

Are you qualified for this position?

Do you understand the nature of the position and have appropriate qualifications? How do you operate in a work environment? How do you interact with others?

Typical questions include:

  1. What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  2. How does your background relate to the position?
  3. Do you prefer to be directly supervised or to work independently?
  4. What have you learned from some of your previous jobs and activities?

Identify your transferable skills. You may not have had a job that is directly related, but you have built skills that employers want.

Are you a good communicator? When have you demonstrated that previously?

Are you organized? When did you complete a project/assignment or organize an event that required you to juggle many tasks and keep track of multiple deadlines?

Professional Dress

Remember, that you want to make a lasting first impression through professional dress and communicate to employers that you are the person for the job.

Interview Handbook Cover

General Guidelines:

  • A suit is usually best
  • Wear a long sleeve button up shirt, collared shirt or dress shirt 
  • Tie is recommended
  • Wear neutral colors
  • If you don't own a suit, wear a dark sport coat and nice pants
  • Dress comfortably and consider wearing something, or bringing something with you that helps you feel comfortable and confident.
  • Dress professionally for a virtual interview. We tend to display more confidence when we are dressed professionally. 

General Tips:

  • Prepare your technology and space ahead of time.
  • Wear minimal jewelry 
  • Do not wear cologne/perfume. It can be a distraction for the interviewer and some people are sensitive to different odors.
  • Arrive early to prepare yourself before the interview.
  • Bring a snack and a bottle of water. 
  • Bring a Tide stick for unexpected stains/spills on your clothing.
  • Bring a Notebook or Padfolio and a pen to take notes.
  • Have your questions ready for the interviewer.
  • Bring 3 to 5 copies of your resume and references to share with the interviewers.

Mock Interviews

CDAE recommends you schedule an appointment with a Career Counselor to conduct a mock interview and discuss helpful tips and techniques to feel best prepared for an upcoming interview or networking event. For more information please contact us at 805-437-3270 or

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