Career Center M30

Interview Techniques

Questions?

  • Career Center
    202-885-1804
    Fax: 202-885-1861
    careercenter@american.edu
    Butler Pavilion, Room 5th Floor

    Monday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Tuesday 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
    Wednesday 9:00 am - 8:00 pm
    Thursday 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Friday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

    Fernando, Gihan S
    Executive Director-Career Center

Mailing Address

Acing the Interview

 Reaching the interview stage is an excellent milestone. Acing the interview brings you one step closer to receiving an offer. Use the techniques below to outperform other candidates.

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BEFORE

Build off of the initial research that you conducted in order to tailor your resume to the position and learn more about the employer in preparation for your interview. In addition to reviewing the employer’s Web site, read articles that pertain to the organization and talk with employees or others whom are familiar with it. 

Dress in business attire and arrive at least fifteen minutes early. If you feel nervous, step into the bathroom or another private place to calm your nerves. Be warm and courteous to whomever you meet because your actions before and after the actual interview matter. Also keep your belongings organized and have a pen and notepad, as well as copies of your resume and reference list within reach.

DURING

At the beginning and end of your interview, shake hands firmly with the employer. Throughout the interview, maintain good eye contact, speak in a conversational tone, and ensure that your body language conveys your maturity and confidence. Sit up straight and control nervous habits such as fidgeting and foot tapping.

Maintain your composure when asked difficult questions and politely seek clarification if necessary. You may pause for a few seconds to formulate your answer before speaking or drink a sip of water to steady your nerves before responding. So as not to be caught off guard by open-ended or behavior-based questions, stay focused on skills and experiences that directly relate to the position. When answering behavioral questions, use the STAR method to present a specific situation and task and describe your action and the overall result.

Be aware that employers in the U.S. can only ask job-related questions and cannot request personal information pertaining to your race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, marital or family status, age, and disability. If an employer asks you an illegal question, seek clarification about the question’s intent or politely decline to comment.

At the conclusion of your interview, inquire about the next phase of the selection process and invite the employer to contact your references. Thank the employer for his or her time and request a business card so that you have accurate information for future correspondence.

Mock Interviews

Utilize our Interview Prep tool to sharpen your interview skills.

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AFTER

You may feel relieved, excited, uncertain or any number of other emotions after your interview, so take some time to reflect on the overall experience. Ask yourself if you truly want the position and try imagining yourself in the work environment. Whatever the outcome, use lessons learned from the experience to sharpen your interview skills for the future.

Within 24 hours of your interview, send a thank-you note. If you met with multiple staff, send personalized messages to each individual. E-mail messages are effective when hiring decisions are made quickly, but employers still appreciate the personal touch of a hand-written note. When in doubt, send an e-mail immediately and follow up with a hand-written note. Be sure to reiterate your enthusiasm for the opportunity, address any concerns raised during the interview, and express your gratitude for being considered.

Thank You Letters

Not sure where to begin? Try reading our sample Thank You Letter.

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