The Basics

What is An Interview?

Whether you’re applying for your first internship or an entry-level job after graduation, starting a job search is all about finding out what you need to succeed. Once you’ve created a strong resume and written a great cover letter, it’s time to learn about the next step in the process: the interview.

Even if you’ve never had an interview before, chances are you have some idea of what it involves — meeting with an employer and convincing them that you’re the best person for the job. That’s definitely the gist of it, but there’s more to it than that. Interviews are also a good opportunity to assess whether you’ll be happy in the role and working at the company.

Here are some other things you need to know about the interview process.

Why you’re being interviewed

Being invited for an interview is an honor in and of itself. It means that the employer is impressed by your resume and thinks you’re probably qualified for the position. The interview is the next step in the hiring process and a chance for them to find out whether you really are a good fit for the company and the role.

The best way to think of an interview is as a focused conversation where you and the hiring manager are exchanging information in order to come to a decision. For the interviewer, this means learning more about your experience, skill set, and personality. For you as a candidate, it means finding out about the employer’s needs and showing how you can add value if they decide to bring you on as part of the team. It’s also a chance to you to determine whether the role is right for you and whether the company is a place where you would really learn to thrive.

How to prepare for an interview

Whether it’s your first interview or your 10th, preparation is key. This involves knowing how to talk about your experience and skills, and also being aware of questions the interviewer is likely to ask. Since employers are essentially trying to find out things that weren’t included in your application, like whether you’re a good communicator or natural leader, the questions they ask will focus on these main points. While you can’t anticipate every question, you should prepare answers for a few of the most common ones like “Tell me about yourself” and “What are your strengths?”

Doing your research on the company and the position is also extremely important. This will allow you to show how your skills align with the role and to ask the interviewer in-depth questions that will help both parties come to a decision. For example, this is a great chance to learn about some of the challenges the company has encountered and what gaps they’d like the ideal candidate to fill.

Pro Tip: Interviews are a two-way street with you and the hiring manager mutually evaluating each other. Although it’s important to be enthusiastic and eager about landing the job, don’t be afraid to ask questions that will help you assess how well the job fits you.

Although it’s normal to be a little nervous if you’ve never had an interview before (or even if you have), with the right research and preparation you’ll be able to handle yourself with confidence and prove that you’re the best candidate for the job.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Be a Team Player and find answers to common interview questions such as Tell Me About a Time You Failed.