Preparing for the Interview | ACTC

Preparing for the Interview

Learning Objectives

  • Effective planning and preparation
    • Know yourself, Know the company
    • How to create your “elevator speech”
  • Answering questions effectively
    • Practice makes… better
  • What to do after the interview
    • How to write a thank you letter

Before the Interview

A comic representation of an interview. Intervewer: "Do you know how to use Microsoft Word?" Interviewee: "I don’t know. Is it on my resume?”

Know Yourself

  • Know your strengths and weaknesses and be able to articulate them.
  • Know where you might fit in to the organization.
    • Don’t expect the interviewer to know. You know yourself better than anyone.
  • Identify your skills, abilities and experience.
    • Be able to talk about them.


Know the Company

  • Take time to research the company.
  • Their website, Facebook page, Twitter feed and LinkedIn profile are all good resources.

“Elevator” Speech

Develop a 60 second “commercial” about yourself, practice it.

In it you will cover…

  1. Background - Education and/or how you began in the world   of work.
  2. Skills, strengths and accomplishments
  3. Job focus and future career plans.

Professional Appearance

Dress Appropriately

General guidelines

  • Men: A suit is usually best.  Wear a long sleeve white shirt, conservative tie and dark socks.  If you don't own a suit, wear a dark sport coat and dress slacks.
  • Women: A suit is also best.  If you don't own one, a business-like dress or skirt and blouse is recommended.  Wear flesh colored hose, no tights or patterns.
  • If in doubt what to wear, call the company and ask

Arrive On Time

  • How early?
    • 10 minutes is good. 30 minutes is too early. You could be inconveniencing the interviewer.
  • Where is the interview?
    • Consider doing a “dry run” if you’re going somewhere you’re not familiar with.  Use a map or GPS
  • What time is the interview?
    • How long does it take to get there?
    • What is traffic like that time of day?
  • Who is interviewing you?
    • Know their name, how to pronounce it and their title.

What to Bring With You

  • Professional portfolio folder
    • Extra copies of your resume (one for each person if interviewed by committee).
    • A notepad and black or blue pen.
    • List of questions for the interviewer.
  • Anything the interviewer has asked you to bring.

A comic representation of an interview. Intervewer: "Do you believe you are a responsible person?" Interviewee: "Yes, I am. Every place I've ever worked, when something went wrong in my department, they said I was responsible. "

2 Main Types of Interviews

  • Situational
  • Behavioral

Situational Interview

  • Questions deal with hypothetical situations.
    • “What would you do if… “
  • Discuss past work experience.
    • Go over your resume. Again, know what’s in it.
  • Ask traditional resume questions.
    • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
    • What are your 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses?

Behavioral Interview

  • Uses your answers to make predictions of future performance based on past behaviors.
    • Situation: Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. Be specific.
    • Task: What goal were you working toward?
    • Action: What specific steps did you take and what was your contribution?
    • Result: What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Make sure your answer contains multiple positive results.
  • It’s important to practice how you would respond to both types of questions so you won’t feel caught off guard.

Other types

  • Panel:
  • Technical:
  • Telephone:

During the Interview

Question: When does the interview start?

A parking lot with a "Parking lot under video surveillance" sign

Your interview could start when you park your car.

First Impression

  • Check yourself in a mirror.
  • Smile warmly and make good eye contact with everyone you meet.
    • The receptionist DOES have influence over the hiring decision so don’t blow it by being rude.
  • Give a firm handshake.
    • Don’t be a “cold fish”. Practice if necessary.

Answering Questions

  • Powerful Responses
    • Use the Short Story Technique of answering questions. Don't simply say yes or no. WOW the interviewer with your experience!
  • Be Positive
    • When answering questions, dwell on the positive even when asked a negative question, phrase your answer in a positive way.
  • Sell Yourself - Non-verbally
    • Be aware of your non-verbal communication! Watch your actions when you're talking.  Nervous gestures can distract the interviewer.  Sit up straight!  This will help you appear (and feel) more poised and confident.

A comic representation of the end of an interview. Interviewee: ""Do I have to dress up for the next interview?"

Asking Questions

  • Prepare at least 5-10 to ask, (write them down) it is probable the interviewer will answer some of them during the interview. 
  • You will only ask 1-3 of the questions you have written down.


  • Be sure to get a business card from each person with whom you speak. These will come in handy when you write those all-important thank you notes. 
  • If they are not offered to you by the interviewer, ask for one.
  • Thank everyone in the room for their time.

After the Interview

Follow Up

  • Following up on a job interview is crucial.  It gives you the opportunity to sell yourself again.
  • In a perfect world, all your interviews will go smoothly. Send a thank you note after each one.
  • Even if you blow the interview, it pays to get in touch after the fact.

Thank You letters

  • Objective: To inform the employer of your interest in the position and to summarize your chief credentials.
    • Thank the interviewer for their time.
    • Show enthusiasm for the position.
    • Explain how you can help them with challenges mentioned during the interview.
  • Express your desire to be included in the next step of the hiring process.


* If you receive a letter informing you that you did not get the job, you still need to follow-up with a note to the person who interviewed you.

Move On

Brush yourself and get back on your feet. For every rejection you receive you are one step closer to a job offer. 


  • Get into pairs and practice. Switch roles
  • Get into another pair and practice again
  • Get into yet another pair and practice
  • Debrief
    • What went well?
    • What did you learn?
    • What do you need to practice more?