Interview Prep

Employers who interview you want you to succeed!

Take confidence from this if you start to get nervous. Remember that you can help them solve their hiring problem by explaining why you're the right fit for the job and company.

1. Study the job posting

The posting will have the answers to some of the big questions about what the job is and what your role is within the organization.  As you did when you applied, break down the role and make notes about what you are expected to do.

2.  Research the organization

Do your homework about their products/services and culture.  Interviewers will expect that you know some information about what they do and what your role entails.  You can do this research by searching the organization's website and social accounts.

3. Prepare for the most common interview questions

Predicting what questions will be brought up in an interview is hard.  Here are some common questions that you can prepare to help boost your confidence for the interview.

  • Tell us about yourself
    • This is where your prep work in researching the organization can help you.  Answer this by touching on areas of the organization that interest you and how activities align with your academic and professional goals.  This is an elevator pitch of who you are targeted towards a specific position.
  • Why do you want to work here?
    • Clearly understand and know how to articulate why you have applied for this position.  What experiences in your background lead you to this organization and qualify you for the position?
  • What interests you about this role? 
    • This is the time to highlight your experiences and skills that align with the job posting.  Focus on the skills you have that align with the organization wants to convey you are the right person for the job
  • What are your strengths?
    • make this into a story, or something personal to help you relate your attributes and qualities to the interviewer.

Behavioural Descriptive Questions

These questions will focus on your characteristics and how you may work through challenges in the workplace. It is expected in many behavioural questions to provide specific examples from your experiences to reinforce skills. 

  • How do you handle conflict with co-workers or clients? Have you had any previous conflicts with co-workers? 
  • How do manage stress at the workplace? 
  • Have you ever identified a problem at the workplace and how did you solve it? 

Open Ended Questions

These questions are to elicit more than a one-word response from you. It is helpful to have a story of who you are as a person and relate it to what the company wishes to accomplish. Some important themes to identify for yourself are below: 

  • Tell me about yourself. 
  • What are your biggest strengths and how do I demonstrate them? Consider technical but also personal. 
  • What is your biggest weakness and how are you working on this? 
  • What is your communication style and methodology? 
  • What is your problem-solving style and methodology?
  • What are your biggest successes and highlight in your career and life? 
  • What do you need in a role to be successful? Managing stress? What type of boss and staff? How do you like being rewarded? How do you manage time and tasks? 
  • Do you know the points on your resume to provide more context to employers if they ask? 
  • What are your short-term and long-term career goals? 


Technical Questions

These are industry-specific questions intended to get a sense of education/ training and competencies. For instance: 

  • Software 
  • Working with demographics and settings
  • Type of research 
  • Terminology 

These questions are illegal for employers to ask and have no influence on whether you can do the job. Examples include but are not limited to: 

  • Age
  • Religious, ethnic or cultural background
  • Family plans or if you are married 
  • Disability or illness 
  • Gender or sexual orientation 

4. Prepare three stories

What are noteworthy, accomplishments, awards, or projects that you have accomplished?  Think of different settings and experiences so that you can showcase your varied experiences (project, team, work or volunteer experience).

STARS Abbreviation Method

The STARS method helps you create an easy-to-follow story with a clear conflict and resolution when answering interview questions  

Definition: What was happening/context for the event

Example: "Working as an Assistant Manager at ABC Warehouse and a disgruntled customer claimed that our shipping department sent them the wrong parts." 

Definition: What did you have to manage in that situation 

Example: "As an Assistant Manager, I had determined if an error had happened or if the customer was correct." 

Definition: Describe exactly the steps you took to rectify the situation 

Example: "I called the customer and assured them I would investigate the situation. I checked all the details and discovered we made a mistake due to a typo. As looked deeper into the issue I also saw that the root of the issue was our part numbering system." 

Definition: Closing of the story and what was the outcome (good or bad) and reflections on experience

Example: "I called customers to inform them that the correct parts were being couriered over to them and the order was being paid for by the company. I assured them that correct changes were being implemented, to prevent this from happening again. The customer was pleased with how I handled the situation and we retained their business. I worked with the warehouse manager to implement new parts." 

Definition: Naming relevant technical or work-ready skills that assisted you  in the situation 

Example: "I used my communication, analytical and teamwork skills to solve a particular problem for a customer and an overall problem for the organization." 

5. Body language and tone

Your tone, speed, and volume all showcase your personality and will make an impression on the interviewers.  Practice speaking confidently, how you shake hands, how you walk into a room, maintain eye contact and how you smile.

6. Prepare questions for the employer

At the end of an interview, most employers will give you a chance to ask any questions to the committee.  This is not the time to ask about pay, holidays or other items that would be discussed in an offer conversation.  Prepare questions that show you have taken time to research the organization and position.

You should always bring a couple of questions to ask employers for an interview and these can come across in the research you do on the company and their objectives, programs or objectives. It will be important to know a brief overview of what types of services a company provides as they may ask you about it in an interview.

  • What qualities do your most successful employees have?
  • What do you love about working for this organization?
  • What are the steps in your hiring practice?
  • What types of in-house training programs do you offer?

Sample questions to ask employers

7. Practice

Write down answers to questions you think will appear in the interview.  Ask friends and family to help you practice, or record yourself to watch back.  The more you practice, the better you will do.

8. Know your resume

Review your resume prior to the interview.  This will help prepare you to talk about any experiences you have listed, gaps or oddities that appear that may be discussed.

9. Prepare copies of your documents 

  • Copies of the resume and cover letter you used for this particular position
  • Copies of your references
  • Copies of any other documents they've requested, like transcripts - consider using a folder or notebook to keep things neat
  • A pen and pad of paper

10. Dress for success

Find out what is standard for your industry and typically dress one step above that.

  • Some industries are more formal than others, and different companies may have different ideas about appropriate attire.  Get to know the culture and feel of your target industry, and dress to match that.  If a relaxed look is acceptable, remember to keep it professional - nothing with inappropriate slogans/phrases, and not too tight or revealing.  If you're concerned about your look, err on the side of caution and go with something slightly more conservative.  
    • Formal attire ideas - suit and tie, tailored jacket/blazer, dress pants, business style dress/skirt, dress shoes
    • Casual attire ideas - shirt and tie with no jacket, button-up shirt, sweater/cardigan, dress pants, dark jeans, closed-toe shoes
  • Hygiene - Some offices have scent sensitivities, so avoid strongly scented products, but be clean and prepared to make a positive impression
  • Turn off your phone, and don't wear headphones or earbuds - the interviewer should know they have your full attention. 

11. Don't be late 

Arrive 5-10 minutes before the start of your interview

  • Map out where you are going and your plans for the day so you do not show up late.  If possible, test run to get to the location, and if you have problems finding the location, contact the company.  Ensure you have enough time to get there so you are not stressed.  

12. During the Interview

  • Be aware of your body language - sit up straight, don't fidget, and keep an open posture
  • Speak from your experience as much as possible, using concrete examples of your skills
  • Ask for clarification if you do not understand a question
  • If you start to panic or don't know what to say, ask for a moment to consider the question thoughtfully or ask if you can come back to a question later
  • Be honest! Answer questions truthfully and to the best of your ability

13. After the interview

  • Take notes after your interview to help you remember what topics were covered
  • Consider sending a thank you card or email to your interviewer(s)
  • View every interview as an opportunity to learn and improve