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How to Prepare for a Job Interview

Interviews can be a double-edged sword for job seekers. They are necessary for getting the job you want, but they can also be a big source of stress.

1. Contact Your References

Professional references can make a big difference to your overall job application and letting them know ahead of time that you listed them is crucial. Your references will be ready to sing your praises to your potential employer and may also be able to provide you helpful information as you prepare.

2. Conduct a Self-Assessment

A self-assessment could be reflecting on your career or thinking about what you’ve accomplished so far and what you want to accomplish in the future. What are your preferences for workplace culture? What kinds of personalities

complement your own? You will want to reflect on these topics as they will likely come up in an interview.

Conducting a self-assessment is also a good time to search for yourself online. According to a CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers use social media to research job candidates and 66% use search engines. Familiarize yourself with what employers see when they search for you so you’re prepared to answer any questions about their findings.

3. Research the Position and Employer

Before an interview, study the job description line-by-line. The interviewer may not directly ask how your previous work lines up with the requirements of the position, but making that connection yourself shows that you pay attention to details.

If you are unfamiliar with the employer, there are plenty of ways to find more information. Ask your closest colleagues if they know anything about the organization, good or bad. You may uncover some information through your personal connections that isn’t available online.

4. Prepare for the Interview Setting

No two interviews are exactly alike, and many of those differences come from the format and location. Some popular interview settings include group, mealtime, one-on-one, panel, phone and video.

Considerations for In-Person Interviews

  • Visualize the setting. Thinking about your surroundings ahead of time may ease some of your stress leading up to the day.
  • Prepare your materials. In addition to bringing several copies of your resume, you may want to print out the job description and highlight sections, adding your own notes. Doing this will help you prepare your answers, and you may also impress the interviewer if they notice your attention to detail.
  • Practice the route to the interview location. Aim to arrive 15-30 minutes early in case you run into unexpected traffic or other snafus.

Considerations for Remote Interviews

  • Thoroughly prepare your materials. Print out anything you think may be helpful, or bring it up on a computer screen. Use caution though; you will want to refer to the materials naturally and not delay your answers too much while you search for the right document.
  • Test your technology. If the interview is over the phone, confirm you will be somewhere with strong reception or access to a landline. Ensure your mobile phone is fully charged or plugged in to a reliable charger. For interviews conducted over the internet, test your audio and video equipment, and familiarize yourself with the software.

5. Practice Answers to Common Interview Questions

Practicing your answers to common interview questions may be the most critical step. Find examples of interview questions online and maybe grab a friend to help you practice. The CSU Career Services department is a great resource for mock interviews as well.

6. Prepare Questions for the Interviewer

Most interviewers will save at least a few minutes at the end so that candidates can ask their own questions. Asking questions at the end of an interview shows that you are curious about the position and that you have researched the organization. Only preparing your answers to potential questions and not questions you want to ask your interviewe may seem like you are not prepared or, even worse, not interested in the position.



Here are a few ideas:

  • Can you describe a typical day for someone in this positon?
  • What training does the person in this position receive?
  • What are the most common challenges faced by the person in this position?
  • How would you describe the work culture here?
  • What do you enjoy most about working here?
  • What are the next steps in the interview process and when might I hear from you?

Career Services is
Here to Help You

The Department of Career Services is available to assist all CSU alumni. Services include resume review, interview preparation, job search strategies and more. Connect with a career development counselor or discover additional career resources at

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