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Interview Preparation

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Learn about different types of interviews.

As you will see below, there are many different types of interviews. Once selected for an interview, you may experience one or more of the situations described below. When you schedule an interview, try to get as much information as possible about whom you will meet. It is rare to have only one interview before a job offer. Most employers will bring back a candidate several times to ensure a potential employee fits into the company culture.

Use Big Interview to prepare for interviews. This tool gives you 24/7 access to interactive interview practice opportunities.

The Career Center also provides interviewing support. To schedule an in-person mock interview or discuss interviewing, please log in to your Handshake account and schedule an appointment.

Jump to some of our highlighted resources, featuring important information more about preparing for interviews:

How to Prepare for an Interview What Will They Ask? Thank You Notes

Video interviews are popular among employers for a variety of reasons. Video interviews allow companies to pre-screen candidates, offer the opportunity to interview candidates from various locations, and increase the number of interviews they can conduct in a day. There are many video interviewing platforms that employers are using.

There are two types of video interviews. Live Video Interviews are very similar to in-person interviews. Employers and candidates are able to interact via video technology platforms, such as Skype, Zoom, and Google Hangout.

In an On-Demand Interview, a series of prompts or questions will appear on the screen and candidates will be given the opportunity to record their responses without interacting with an interviewer. These can often be completed on a candidate’s own schedule. Both types should be treated the same as an in-person interview.

How to Prepare for Video Interviews

Check out this detailed article from our colleagues at Big Interview for a comprehensive list on how to prepare. And then visit Big Interview to practice what you learned!

  • To avoid technical issues, test your video and audio before an interview to ensure everything is working properly. If the audio quality is poor, consider investing in a separate headset/microphone.
  • Turn off email alerts, software updates, and other notifications that may distract you or show up on the screen during the interview.
  • Make sure your laptop or tablet is fully charged.
  • Dress professionally from head to toe. If you have to move from your seat, you do not want to show the interviewers your pajama bottoms or sweatpants.
  • Make sure your interview space is well-lit, and your background is professional and free of distractions.
  • Organize your resume, cover letter, information about the company, questions you want to ask the employer, and potential talking points around your screen so that you do not have to look away from the screen or shuffle through papers (which can be heard on your microphone).
  • Eye contact is critical in a video interview. Avoid looking at yourself in the viewfinder and focus on looking into the webcam. This will give the illusion that you are making direct eye contact with the interviewer.
  • Assume the video connection could be delayed and let the interviewer finish what they are saying and then pause for a few seconds before delivering a response.
  • Enlist the help of a friend or relative to practice for a video interview. Prepare exactly as you would for the day of the interview. Dress appropriately, have your materials set up, etc. Have your friend provide you feedback on the lighting, sound, and background, as well as your appearance, voice tone and pitch, and body language.
  • Utilize Big Interview to record yourself responding to prerecorded prompts and questions to get an idea of how you appear on camera in an interview setting.

  • Pre-pandemic, most interviews were conducted face-to-face in the same physical location.
  • Ultimately, an interview is a dialogue: concentrate on building rapport, and understanding and addressing the potential employer’s questions.
  • Your focus should be on the person asking questions. Maintain eye contact, listen, and respond once a question has been asked. Do not interrupt the interviewer.
  • Your goal is to establish rapport with the interviewer and show them that your qualifications will benefit their organization.
  • As with all interviews, preparation is KEY!  Please review tips for preparing for interviews in the “Preparation” section.
  • You will be asked a combination of questions in multiple formats designed to help the interviewer assess your specific qualifications for their available opportunities.
  • Toward the end of the interview, the interviewer will most likely ask you if you have questions for them.  Please review sample questions in the “What Will They Ask” section later on this page.

  • In this situation, there is more than one interviewer. Typically, three to ten members of a panel may conduct this part of the selection process. This is your chance to put your group management and group presentation skills on display.
  • As quickly as possible, try to ‘read’ the various personality types of each interviewer and adjust to them. Find a way to connect with each interviewer.
  • Remember to take your time in responding to questions. Maintain primary eye contact with the panel member who asked the question, but also seek eye contact with other members of the panel as you give your response.

What is a Behavioral Interview?

Behavioral interview questions have become more and more popular over the last few years. Many of the employers that recruit at USC use a combination of behavioral and traditional interview questions to select students for internships and full-time jobs. Behavior-based interviewing is a way to screen candidates and get more tangible information from potential hires. The basic premise behind this type of interview is that your past behavior is the best predictor of your future performance and actions in the workplace. Behavioral questions may be asked in any interview format—telephone, Skype/Zoom, panel, or one-on-one. You should be prepared to answer a few behavioral-based questions during your interview.

What are Employers Looking for in a Behavioral Interview?

Employers use behavioral interview questions as a gauge to determine your actions in the workplace. When an employer asks a behavior-oriented question, they are no longer asking hypothetical questions.  With behavioral questions, interviewers expect specific and detailed answers based on facts. In other words, the interviewer is looking for results, not just an activity list. They are listening for specifics, such as names, dates, places, the outcome, and most importantly, your role in achieving that outcome.  They are looking for examples of what you have learned through your experiences.  Examples of behavioral questions include “Tell me about a time you collaborated on a team”,  “Can you share an example of a project you recently worked on and what you learned.”

How to Prepare for a Behavioral Interview

Preparing for an interview is similar to studying for a final exam- anticipating questions and strategizing how you want to answer is critical for success.  Most behavioral interview questions come directly from the job description. Take note of the skills the employer lists as qualifications or requirements in a job posting. Most likely, the interviewer will ask questions that directly link to those expectations.

In anticipation of a behavioral interview, we suggest you prepare to discuss three to five accomplishments or projects. Reflect on these occasions and know all the details in the event that the interviewer asks follow-up questions for clarification. Often, one scenario can answer various behavioral questions. For example, the project in which you succeeded as part of a team could also be the time when you solved a complex problem. Feel free to use the same example to answer different behavioral questions. However, do not use only one example throughout an entire interview. Utilizing examples from various facets of your life—from academic to professional to student leadership/community service—allows you to appear well-rounded and three-dimensional to the employer during the interview process.

Use the STAR Method in a Behavioral Interview

In answering behavioral questions, consider using the popular “STAR” method. Most people find the “STAR” method helpful because it helps them organize their answers. “STAR” is an acronym that stands for:

  • The Situation (be specific)
  • Your Task/Role in the project
  • The Actions you took
  • The Results, i.e. what happened (the positive accomplishment)

There will be instances when interviewers want to know about your failures or projects you were less successful with (i.e. “Tell me about a time when you failed”). Should this occur, make sure to include a response that signifies what you learned from the failure, how your behavior has changed, AND how you have applied what you learned to other experiences. This extra step helps emphasize your maturity, willingness to learn, and change while demonstrating your initiative.

Big Interview, Our Online Mock Interview Platform

To sharpen your interviewing skills, especially if it has been a while since your last interview, you can utilize Big Interview. The platform is a powerful AI-enhanced interviewing tool to help you excel in interviews. It’s an entire interview prep system to provide you with hands-on experience with mock interviews tailored specifically to your industry, job, and experience level! And, it is available to you 24/7 worldwide. It’s not just advice – it’s allowing you to practice online! Make your next interview your best interview

  • In some interviews, you may be asked to demonstrate your problem-solving skills. The interviewer will outline a situation or provide you with a case study and ask you to formulate a plan that deals with the problem.
  • You do not have to come up with the ultimate solution. The interviewers are looking for how you apply your knowledge and skills to a real-life situation. Speak and reason aloud so interviewers have a full understanding of your thought process.
  • Before answering a case interview question, be prepared to ask the employer numerous questions for clarity and informational purposes. Most employers will provide responses that could result in additional inquiries.
  • Analyzing and dissecting the case study will likely impress your interviewer.
  • This is the only interview for which it is acceptable, even encouraged, to bring a pad of paper and pencil. Most interviewers will allow you to take notes and jot down thoughts as you work through the case.
  • You can find a detailed guide to effective case interviewing techniques through the Vault Guides.
  • To help you prepare for case interviews, we provide access to Case Interview Interactive.

  • Many organizations will conduct interviews by telephone to narrow the field of candidates. Telephone interviews may also be used as a preliminary interview for candidates who live far away from the job site.
  • It is important to treat this interview as you would a face-to-face connection. Arrange a quiet space and time to schedule the conversation. Clear a work surface to minimize distractions.
  • Focus on the conversation. Listen to the questions carefully before you answer. Since your voice is key, convey energy with inflection in your voice. Smiles can be heard!
  • Have a copy of your resume and the job description readily available for reference.
  • Try to use a landline phone or a cell phone that is not prone to dropping calls.
  • Find a quiet space where interruptions can be avoided.

  • A group interview is usually designed to uncover the leadership potential of prospective managers and employees who will be dealing with customers.
  • The front-runner candidates are gathered together in an informal, discussion-type interview. A subject is introduced and the interviewer will start off the discussion.
  • The goal of the group interview is to see how you interact with others and how you use your knowledge and reasoning with peers.  The interviewers are looking for your natural tendencies to come to the forefront.   Take this opportunity to authentically demonstrate how you would interact on the job if selected for the position.

  • While interviews over meals are much less common (and virtually non-existent during periods we are required to work remotely), please know that the same rules apply to a meal as those in an office. The setting may be more casual, but remember that it is a business meal and you are being watched carefully.
  • Use the interview to develop common ground with your interviewer. Follow your interviewer’s lead in both the selection of food and etiquette.
  • Avoid messy foods and do not drink alcohol at any point in this part of the interview process.

  • This form of interview was more common in sales positions and is rare today. However, you should be aware of the signals. The stress interview is usually a deliberate attempt to see how you handle yourself under pressure.
  • The interviewer may be sarcastic or argumentative or may keep you waiting. Do not take it personally. Calmly answer each question. Ask for clarification if you need it and never rush into an answer.
  • The interviewer may also lapse into silence at some point during the questioning. This may be an attempt to unnerve you. Sit silently until the interviewer resumes the questions. If a minute goes by, ask if the interviewer needs clarification of your last comment.


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