Practicing & Preparing for Interviews

Think you know all of the questions an interviewer will ask during your upcoming interview? Maybe you do – or maybe you’ll be surprised! Practicing for your interviews is extremely important to your success in an interview process and should be well thought out.

There are many ways to prepare for an upcoming interview and we will dive into the specifics of them. Remember, there is no one perfect way to prepare and no interview will be exactly the same.

Once you have secured an interview with a company you will want to learn as much about that company as possible.

It is important to know information like: 

  • what their mission statement is.
  • what their company culture is like.
  • what products they sell.
  • what services they provide.
  • who their competitors are.

It may also be helpful to research employees at the company, especially ones that may be interviewing you to come to the interview fully prepared. 

If there’s information you cannot find during an online search – plan to ask them questions about that topic during the interview.

This list is just a small sampling of the most common interview questions. We encourage you to use different tools to your advantage to search for questions that may be more relevant to a position you’re applying to.

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • How would you explain your strengths as they relate to the position?
  • What are some of your weaknesses?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What motivates you?
  • How do you prioritize and organize your to do list at work or school?
  • What type of work environment do you enjoy?
  • How would you describe your best boss, teacher or coach?
  • How do you deal with stress under pressure?
  • Do you prefer to work independently or in a team?
  • What are your salary expectations?

You should also be aware of questions that are not allowed to be asked. Access more resources related to this topic.

Look over typical interview questions and practice how you would answer them. There are many ways you can get your interview practice in including: 

  • Practicing Alone: look in a mirror and answer the questions.
  • O’Brien Center: stop by for a Preparing for an Interview Workshop. 
  • Practice with another person or use a digital mock interview tool.

It is important during an interview to remember to maintain eye contact, use clear complete sentences and to try and avoid using words like “umm” or “like”. Think about why a company should hire you when answering questions and be your true and authentic self. 

Mock interviews are a practice interview for an interview that simulates the real-life interaction between you and a hiring manager. In this safe, simulated environment, you can test your skills in answering tough questions, create and improve strategies and enhance your communication skills and delivery of your answers. Feedback and discussions on how to improve often follow this exercise. 

Mock interviews can take place in person or virtually – with another person such as your career advisor or with a virtual tool. Certain programs have made mock interviews part of a class requirement. It is highly recommended you partake in at least one mock interview before a planned interview.

  • Use Quinncia – our virtual mock interview tool which records your responses to interview questions using it’s AI tool “Quinn” and provides feedback to each question. This is a free tool for Merrimack students.
  • Schedule an appointment with an advisor to have a mock interview. Provide them with information about the types of positions you’re applying to so they can prepare appropriate questions.
  • Ask a friend, family member or other trusted individual to practice with you. In this case, you may need to put together the list of questions you wish to practice.

How you present yourself is very important. Employers will pay attention to how you showcase your personality and professional style through how you speak, the clothes you’re wearing and accessories you choose.

Be sure to confirm the normal office attire which is usually either business casual or business professional. Ensure your clothing is well-fitting, not wrinkled, and fits the industry expectations. Candidates are very rarely penalized for over-dressing, but will often be judged for under-dressing to an interview.

Be friendly, smile often and show interest in what people are telling you. Make sure to show you value the work people are doing there.

Be on time and courteous to everyone you meet from the time you enter the space. This could be in person or over a virtual interview.

For in person interviews, it might be wise to take a test run to the office you will be interviewed at to make sure you know exactly how long it will take to get there and where to park.

What to Bring

  • The name of the person you will interview with. Sometimes you will interview with the recruiter you have been communicating with and other times it will be a hiring manager. Make sure you have a note of who you should mention upon arrival.
  • Extra copies of your resume and cover letter. Even if you have submitted electronic copies ahead of time, it is always great and looks professional to show up with extra copies and offer to everyone in the room by asking, “Would anyone like a copy of my resume or cover letter before we begin?”
  • Professional padfolio/folder for your resumes and a notebook with pen to take notes during the interview. If you require an electronic device for taking notes – please state this to your interviewers at the beginning to let them know your intentions.
  • Turn your phone off or to do not disturb to avoid being interrupted by notifications. This suggestion may apply to a smart watch as well.
  • Questions for the interviewer – ask them about their company, their experience or other topics of interest.

Make sure to thank everyone in person for taking the time out of their day to interview you, but also send a thank you email to everyone who was at your interview thanking them. It is typical to send a thank you email within 24 hours after the interview.