Module 03: Job Search

Interviewing with Confidence

Jane Career in practicing in from of a mirror for her interview. The caption reads, " Practice Interviewing: Even in the mirror!"

Your ability to perform well during a job interview is essential to your career success. It’s rare for a job candidate to be offered a position without being interviewed first. It is competitive to get to the interview stage, so it’s important that you take advantage of the opportunity and prepare well.

The following sections will provide you with information and tips on how to prepare for an interview:

Before the Interview:

  • Research the position, the department and the company to identify the skills, values and accomplishments to highlight during the interview.
  • Map out the location of the interview, or in the case of a virtual interview, test out the interview software and set up in an indoor location with appropriate lighting, no background noises, and so forth.
  • Review your resume so that you can speak confidently about your experiences and skills.
  • Update your portfolio (if applicable).
  • Prepare a professional outfit.
  • Formulate answers to the most common interview questions and practice your answers out loud with a friend or an advisor.
  • Prepare a list of questions you would like to ask the interviewer, including questions about the post-interview process. For example:
    • When is the company planning to make their decision?
    • How they will contact you?
    • Does the interviewer have any follow-up questions?

During the Interview:

  • Arrive 10 minutes early (or log in 5 mins early)
  • Bring extra copies of your resume, your business card, a list of your references, pen, paper, and a portfolio of your work if you have one.
  • Be respectful, polite and personable to everyone in the office.
  • When you meet your interviewer(s), make eye contact, be friendly, and don’t sit until asked to do so.
  • When answering questions, try not to fidget, avoid over-using ‘um’, ‘ah’, and ‘like’, maintain eye contact, ask for clarification when necessary and keep your answers succinct.
  • Provide detailed responses with examples while connecting your skills and experiences to the job.
  • Demonstrate enthusiasm and a positive attitude while avoiding strong negative words like ‘hate’, ‘dislike’, and ‘refuse’.

Asking Questions

The interviewer may invite you to ask any questions you have towards the end of the interview. Not only will this give you the opportunity to learn more about the agency, it will also demonstrate your interest and intelligence. Here are some thoughtful questions to consider:

  • If I’m hired, what’s the most important thing I should accomplish in the first 90 days?
  • How long have you been with the company?
  • What’s your favorite part of working here?
  • How would you describe the company’s values?
  • Do you recommend that I read or review something that would help me have a better understanding of the agency?

After the Interview:

  • Evaluate your performance by reflecting on what you did well and what you could improve on at your next interview.
  • Send a thank-you email to your interviewers within 24 hours.
  • Notify your references that they may be called. Send them some information about the job and company you have interviewed for and the skills you would like them to highlight.
  • Continue with your job search.

Common interview mistakes

  • Lack of preparation
  • Arriving late
  • Messy appearance
  • Conveying a lack of confidence
  • Negative attitude and/or a lack of enthusiasm
  • Inconsistency (e.g. between your resume and your interview responses)
  • Failing to listen

Responses to Interview Questions

Below are some tips regarding the best way to answer interview questions:

  • Elaborate on your skills and knowledge by providing concrete examples of how you’ve used them in the past. Explain how your knowledge is relevant to the job.
  • Although your education may be relevant to the job, make sure to provide examples from a variety of experiences, including work experience, volunteer work, or extra-curricular activities since these may offer evidence of your transferable skills.
  • Employers are not only looking for someone who has the skills and experience needed for the job. They are also looking for a candidate with a positive attitude, works well with others, adaptable, learns quickly, reliable, and works hard.


Celeste, A. (2021). Star Interview Method Explained. Retrieved from

The Star Method

The STAR interview technique is a common method for answering behavioral interview questions, such as how you handled specific situations.

The acronym STAR stands for:

Situation: Explain where, when, with whom, and what your role was so that you provide context for the listener.

Task: Outline what you were tasked to do or the problem you needed to solve.

Action: List the actions you took in this situation – Be specific, don’t expect them to guess what you did.

Result: Emphasize the result of your actions so that the interviewer can see that the actions you took were successful.

Interviewers ask behavioral questions because they believe that past behavior is a strong predictor of future behavior.  By having some STAR stories ready, you won’t have to come up with examples on the spot. You can illustrate through past  examples that you would perform well in the target job.  The key is to anticipate which skills the interviewer is most likely to question.

Here is an example of how Xin Ja answered a behavioral interview question:


“Xin Ja, can you provide an example of a time when you were able to successfully solve a problem?”

Xin Ja:

“Sure! I worked at Gavi’s Fast Food Restaurant last summer as the lunch-hour manager and during a particularly busy lunch hour several customers complained that the system of lining up to pay was confusing. (SITUATION)

As the lunch-hour manager, it was my responsibility to resolve customer complaints and make sure we were providing fair, fast and friendly service. (TASK)

I wanted to make sure this problem was resolved quickly and effectively so I listened to the feedback from customers and then sought out solutions from the customer service clerks. In order to address the issue, I bought floor markings to show customers where to line up for each cash register. (ACTION)

During subsequent high traffic periods, there were no customer complaints about line-ups. The customer service clerks told me that their stress was reduced because they no longer had to manage conflict in the line. Our store served a higher number of customers on a daily basis because we were able to serve customers more efficiently.” (RESULT)

How to Anticipate Interview Questions 

Imagine how well you would perform at interviews if you knew what they were going to ask ahead of time.  You would be able to craft appropriate responses and deliver them flawlessly.  It would also eliminate the risk of you having that ‘deer in the headlights’ look when asked a question you didn’t expect.  The good news is that you don’t need a crystal ball to know which questions to anticipate.

Here are some tips to help you figure out the kinds of interview questions you can expect:

Tip #1: Become familiar with some standard interview questions:

  • You should always be ready to respond to questions such as:

“Tell me about yourself.”
“What makes you a good fit for this job?”
“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
“What interests you about this job?”
“What do you know about our company?”

Tip #2: Review the job description:

  • Make a note of what is emphasized in the responsibilities and requirements sections.
  • Try to anticipate the types of questions that the interviewer might ask to determine whether or not you possess those skills.
  • Remember that employers are usually more interested in hearing examples that demonstrate your skills than hearing you make general statements stating that you have the skills.

Tip #3: Consider the personality traits and soft skills required for the job:

  • In addition to your experience, the employer is trying to determine whether or not your personality is the right fit for the position.
  • Imagine you were the hiring manager. What type of candidate would you be seeking?  Be ready to provide examples that indicate you possess those key personality traits.

Tip #4: Research the organization:

  • By learning more about the organization, you can get a deeper understanding of their priorities.  This will help you anticipate questions that they may ask to determine if you are the right fit for their organizational culture.

Tip #5: Research salary information:

  • Never attend a job interview without having a general idea of the salary range for the position.  Check the US Department of Labor for reliable salary information.

Prepare for Virtual interviews with Big Interview Questions

University of West Florida’s Big Interview

One tool to help you practice your interview skills is the Big Interview, a web-based mock interview program available to students at the University of West Florida that allows you to practice hundreds of industry-specific interview questions.  It gives you the opportunity to record, review and retry your responses.

*A webcam and microphone are required*

Virtual interviews – either synchronous or asynchronous- have become much more common. While virtual interviews are often conducted in real time, this type of communication requires certain considerations and adjustments.

Here are some tips to help set you up for success:

  • Test your Technology. Make sure you have a stable internet connection, a working webcam, and a microphone. If the onscreen image is grainy, or you’re experiencing an echo, consider investing in a mini webcam with a built-in microphone.
  • Set up your Interview Space. Find a room with optimal lighting. Once settled, eliminate all distractions by turning off your TV, cellphone, and close nearby windows to minimize background noise. A neutral background or a blank wall works well to ensure that you are the focal point of the conversation.
  • Monitor your Body Language on Camera. Sit up straight and demonstrate good posture. This will help you to present a positive impression and convey a confident and professional image.
  • Maintain Eye Contact.  Look into the camera as often as possible. This will give the interviewer(s) the sense that you are engaged and not distracted.
  • Speak Slowly and Clearly. This will allow the employer to hear and understand you despite any wi-fi delays or microphone malfunctions.

Share This Book