Prepare for an Interview

Life presents a variety of situations in which someone will want to interview you. Job interviews, private school admissions interviews, and college admissions interviews are among the most unavoidable, but adoption interviews and press interviews are fairly commonplace, as well. Here's how to ace the process.


Job Interviewing

  1. Research the employer. At the very least, this means checking out the company online and reading any "About Us" or "History of" pages. If you want to be even more educated, read up on their stock price or any appearance of the company name in the news lately.[1]
    • Pay special attention to the company's mission statement and future goals, since you can focus on answering questions in a manner that will address these concerns.
    • Knowing about the industry in general is also a good idea. The more informed you appear, the better the interviewer will think of you.
  2. Know who's interviewing you. If at all possible, ask who will be conducting your interview. Knowing who to ask for, what his or her job title is, and how to address him or her will give the interviewer a more positive impression of you.
    • Learn from other employees, if you can. Read any articles that you can find about the company and talk to current employees or others in the industry who know more about the company.
  3. Memorize the job description. You do not need to know it word-for-word, but it wouldn't hurt, either. Knowing what a company wants will allow you to pitch yourself as the person who can meet those wants.
    • If there is a job description posted online, make sure you read each requirement and responsibility.
    • Be ready to address each one and to talk about past experiences or current skills that address each point.
  4. Practice answering some basic interview questions. An interviewer might throw out a question or two that you will have no way of anticipating, but in general, most questions asked at a job interview are pretty much the same. Write out at least five to ten potential questions you might be asked. Practice giving answers that address your career goals and qualifications.
    • "Tell me about yourself." The interviewer is essentially asking you to provide a professional overview of yourself. Briefly describe your past work experiences, how you got into the field, and any other information that describes your connection to the industry. If you mention anything personal, keep it brief and tailor it to demonstrate your overall character.
    • "What is your biggest weakness?" Give a genuine interest, but phrase it in a way that dampens the effect. Also provide a quick explanation on how you have learned to deal with it. For instance, if you have crippling shyness, you can answer, "I tend to have trouble communicating with people at first, but as a result, I've learned how to observe people more thoroughly so that I know how to best interact with them after the first few encounters."
    • "Where do you see yourself in five years?" This question can be difficult to answer since you need to seem both motivated and stable. If this is a company you plan to work for long-term, make sure that the interviewer knows this, but describe your desire to contribute and advance within the company. If the job is only temporary, say so, but make sure you describe what you aspire to reach after leaving the job and what you hope to have contributed after you go.
    • "Why do you want this job?" This is your chance to show off your knowledge of the job description and the company. Show how the company's values align with your own. If it is a fast-paced company that hopes to advance quickly, express a desire to advance along with it. If it is a company dedicated to a cause, describe your passion for the same cause.
  5. Prepare your own questions. At the end of the interview, the interviewer will probably ask you if you have any questions of you own. Never shrug this off, since it could be interpreted as a lack of interest on your part.
    • Ask questions about office culture and questions that clarify what your job responsibilities would be. Also find out how soon you can expect to hear back from them.
  6. Prepare a professional outfit. As a general rule, wear clothes that are one step more professional than the position demands. Make sure that all your clothes are washed and ironed for the interview so that you look your best.[2]
    • If the employees wear casual clothes, show up in business casual.
    • If the employees wear business casual clothes, come to the interview in a full suit.
    • If the employees already wear fully professional attire, though, then show up in the same.

An Admissions Interview

  1. Do your homework on the school. Regardless of whether you are interviewing for a private school or for a university, knowing about the school's history and expectations is essential. It allows you to demonstrate your interest in the school, and show that you can respect and adhere to what the school values.[3]
    • You should also know exactly what it is that the school can offer you in terms of degrees and opportunities. Find this information out by reading through the school's website and by flipping through any admissions brochures they sent you.
  2. Find out where to go and who to ask for. Call the school's main number before going to the interview and ask for directions to the building and office you need to show up at. Also find out the name of the person conducting the interview and how to address that person.
    • This is especially important for college interviews, since college campuses usually have more than one building. Make sure you've mapped out your route well in advance.
  3. Review your application materials. If you have already applied to the school, look over the application again to refresh your memory on what you wrote.
    • This is especially important if the application had essays, since you will want to be able to emphasize the vital points of your essay response during the interview.
    • Even if the application had no essay, reviewing the questions that were asked will allow you to understand what the school considers to be valuable information.
  4. Practice answering generic questions. The admissions officer conducting the interview may have a few questions that deal specifically with the school or with your application, but he or she will probably resort to a few standard questions, as well.
    • "Why do you want to go to this school?" This is your chance to show off your knowledge of the school. If the school is sports-oriented, emphasize your interest in the sports program while briefly touching on academics. Similarly, if the school is focused on service or on academics, focus your response on those areas.
    • "What do you plan on doing after you graduate?" Most schools will understand if you do not have your entire life mapped out yet, but at the same time, the interviewer will want to see some sense of motivation. If you are undecided about what you want to do, explain your dilemma but describe how you anticipate discovering your passion while at the school and pursuing it after leaving. If you do have an idea of what you want to do, describe it as vividly as possible.
  5. Prepare questions of your own. The admissions counselor will probably ask you if you have any of your own questions at the end of the interview. At this point, you should ask about things that cannot be conveyed through the school's promotional materials.[4]
    • If you have questions about the academics, make sure to pose them here. Otherwise, ask about campus life or student resources.
  6. Dress to impress. Prepare an outfit that demonstrates your seriousness as a student, even if there is no dress code at the school.[5]
    • For "elite" institutions, prepare a suit or other formal business attire.
    • For more relaxed schools, dress conservatively in business casual clothes.

An Adoption Interview

  1. Prepare to disclose your medical history. The agent conducting the interview will want to verify that you are in good health. You will need to describe your physical and mental health, and if you have had any health troubles in the past or currently have any at present, you should describe your overall prognosis and any treatments you are taking to manage the condition.[6]
    • You will need to be absolutely honest about your medical history, since you can get into serious legal trouble if you lie.
  2. Gather your financial records. The interviewer will also want to verify that you can afford to take care of a child. You do not need to be especially wealthy, but you do need to demonstrate fiscal responsibility. Prepare banks statements, credit card statements, and loan statements to demonstrate that you are not behind on any payments and that you have a steady history of financial responsibility.
  3. Get your home in order. Adoption interviews are often done as part of a home study, which means that the interviewer will come to talk to you at your home. Make sure that your house looks clean and organized.[7]
    • Clear away any clutter and fix any problems that could be potentially hazardous to a child.
    • It also helps to have a specific place set aside for an adopted child to live in, since it demonstrates to your interviewer that you are serious and prepared for a new addition to your family.
  4. Practice answering a few basic questions. The interviewer will ask a variety of questions. Some will touch on your qualifications and ability, such as medical or financial questions. You can also expect to be asked about whether or not you have a criminal history.[8]
    • The interviewer may also ask you more personal questions to gauge your fitness as a potential parent. These questions could cover topics like your views on education, discipline, or overall child rearing.
    • You may also be asked to describe your own character, in which case, you should be honest about your faults while emphasizing that your strengths are more than enough to compensate.
  5. Keep your appearance clean. You do not need to dress in business attire, but you should great the interviewer in your "Sunday best." Prepare an outfit that makes you look well put-together. Make sure that both you and your clothes are cleaned, and make sure that any family members present are also equally cleaned and prepped.

A Press Interview

  1. Know who you are dealing with. There are three audience levels you need to concern yourself with here:[9]
    • The interviewer: Usually, a specific journalist will be assigned to your interview. Make sure you know who will be conducting the interview and read his or her past pieces to find out what that interviewer's slant or focus generally is.
    • The media outlet: The tone of an interview usually varies depending on the medium used to deliver it. A blog is one of the most casual, followed by phone interviews, newspaper interviews, and radio interviews. Professional journal interviews and broadcast television interviews tend to be the most formal.
    • The primary audience: The company the reporter works for will have a specific audience. A local news or radio station will ask questions that will concern local viewers, while a national station will ask questions that pertain to a wider audience. A specialized source, like a blog or journal, will focus on issues that affect their readership.
  2. Ask for details about the interview before it happens. If the interview is scheduled in advance, gather all possible information about it as you set up the time and date. Find out what material the interviewer plans on asking about as well as the expected length of the interview.
    • Depending on the content of the interview, the journalist may even be willing to provide you with a list of questions he or she plans to ask. The list may not be comprehensive, but it could at least give you a place to start.
  3. Set boundaries. If there is information you cannot disclose about a given topic, make sure the reporter knows this ahead of time. He or she may still try to ask about it anyway, but if you firmly explain that you will not answer those questions before the interview, the reporter is less likely to push you for an answer.
  4. Prepare a list of possible answers and key talking points. Since press interviews can be about nearly any topic, it is impossible to generalize about the questions you will be asked during the interview.[10]
    • If the reporter does not provide you with a list in advance, prepare yourself by noting the most important aspects of whatever the subject matter is. Anticipate what others might be curious about and prepare your answers based on that.
  5. Do a mock interview. Conducting a mock interview is often a good way to calm your anxieties about the real interview. Set aside time in advance for a test run.
    • Ask a trusted associate to practice interviewing with you. Have the associate ask questions you have been informed about or ones that you anticipate and deliver your answers as though you were conducting the actual interview.
  6. Dress to impress for in-person interviews. You can wear anything you want during a phone or email interview, of course, but if you are meeting with the reporter in person, you should wear clean clothes that are suited to your position. This is true regardless of whether you will appear in photographs or video.[11]

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