Interviewing

Whether you're applying for internships, co-ops, or full-time positions after graduation, chances are you will be invited to some interviews. First-round interviews may be conducted by phone or via a virtual platform; second-round (or later) interviews are often conducted in person.

During any interview, interviewers assess your level of preparation, personality (based on perceived level of confidence, poise, and friendliness), communication skills, level of experience, and career goals to see how well you might fit in with the culture of the company, organization, or institution.

What to Wear

Business professional attire is most appropriate for any type of job interview. Make sure you dress the part—you only get one chance to make a first impression!

Tips for Success

Regardless of the type of interview, these tips will help you be prepared to make the most of the opportunity.

Before the Interview

  • Review your résumé or CV and make note of the experiences you want to emphasize during the interview.
  • Know the basics about the employer or institution.
  • Practice your responses to common interview questions.
  • Prepare questions to ask in the interview.
  • Make sure your interview attire is clean and pressed.
  • Go to bed early the night before the interview—being well-rested will help you to think more clearly.

On Interview Day

In-Person Interview

  • Arrive 10–15 minutes before your scheduled interview time. Have the employer's phone number with you so that you can call in case of an emergency.
  • Be respectful of everyone you encounter, including reception staff.
  • While you are waiting for the interview, review your notes one more time. Be aware of your body language during this time—avoid sending the message that you are nervous by tapping your foot, playing with your hair, chewing gum, etc.
  • Turn your phone off or at least silence the ringer until the interview is over.
  • When the interviewer comes out to greet you, make eye contact and smile as you introduce yourself.
  • During the interview, answer all questions truthfully and concisely, be positive, be specific, and ask questions.
  • Ask for clarification if you don't understand what the interviewer is asking.
  • Request the interviewer's business card before you leave.

Phone Interview

  • Set yourself up for the interview in a quiet place. Try to limit distractions—if you live with other people, ask them to leave you alone for the duration of the interview and keep noises to a minimum.
  • Dress professionally—it will put you in a professional frame of mind even though the interviewer can't see you.
  • Have a glass of water nearby to sip if your mouth gets dry.
  • During the interview, answer all questions truthfully and concisely, be positive, be specific, and ask questions.
  • Ask for clarification if you don't understand what the interviewer is asking.

Virtual interview

  • Set yourself up for the interview in a clean and tidy room that won't create a negative impression for the interviewer. If you use a virtual background, choose something simple.
  • Try to limit distractions—if you live with other people, ask them to leave you alone for the duration of the interview and keep noises to a minimum. Turn off the ringer on your phone.
  • Have a glass of water nearby to sip if your mouth gets dry.
  • Make sure the technology is working! At least 30 minutes before the interview, check your internet connection and check the link you were provided. Test your video and audio quality.
  • Sit up straight and try to place your face is in the middle of your screen. Smile and greet the interviewer confidently.
  • During the interview, answer all questions truthfully and concisely, be positive, be specific, and ask questions.
  • Ask for clarification if you don’t understand what the interviewer is asking.
  • Be aware of your body language and facial expressions throughout the interview.

After the Interview

  • Follow up with a thank-you message to the interviewer within 24 hours.
  • If the interviewer asked you for any additional information that you did not have available during the interview, provide it in a timely way.
 

Engineering Career Resources & Employer Relations

College of Engineering

117 Hammond Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4710

Phone: 814-863-1032