Interview Tips

The Optimum Way:
"Put your best foot forward"

Remember not to try too hard to impress your interviewer. You don't have to be brilliant and witty. You need to appear competent and mature.

The employer is trying to determine whether you have the ability and training to do the job. He or she wants to know whether you can adapt to that company's work environment. They'll likely try to get a handle on whether you can be a punctual, reliable and productive addition to their work team.

Credibility is key

Be prepared to answer questions related to your past work experience, education, likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, as well as future goals. Don't pretend that you know more than you do. If caught, your credibility will be lost.

You should also prepare yourself before the interview with information about the company you seek to join. Ask questions about its products and services. Seek information about the job for which you are applying. A sense of awareness and curiosity will let them know that you are not just going through the motions, but have taken the time to think about their company.

Other useful tips

  • Presentation
  • Listen carefully and respond only when asked a direct question.
  • Maintain eye contact with your interviewer.
  • Do not discuss salary, benefits or vacation on the first interview
  • Be prepared to discuss salary expectations, at any time if asked.
  • Be cheerful and don't be afraid to smile.
  • Thank your interviewer for his or her time and interest.
See resume tips


The most commonly asked questions at job interviews, according to a site found at

What follows is an excerpt from the site, together with the questions and the type of responses you might think about giving. Among the characteristics highest on a company's list are teamwork and innovation. They may not ask whether you are a team player, or creative, -- that doesn't mean you shouldn't go ahead and tell them. But then again, a lot of interviewers will ask you outright: tell me why your personal traits will work here.

1Why are you applying for this position?
Probably the most commonly-asked question at job interviews. You need to convince your interviewer that you are enthusiastic about the job.
2Tell me about a time when you used initiative/Give me an example of when you came up with an innovative solution/Give me an example of a time you exceeded expectations.
In this ever-changing world in which we work, employees are supposed to be innovative, to be able to "think outside of the box." Questions like these (such as the way the "initiative" question and "exceeded expectations" questions are worded) can be used as opportunities to talk about creative faculties -- pick an instance when showing initiative meant coming up with an out-of-the-ordinary solution.
3I see on your resumé that you served as chairperson of a committee. What was that experience like?
Along with innovation, employers often look for leadership ability. In general, interviewers are looking for evidence of a willingness to listen, an ability to give feedback, and a firmness when it comes to getting things done.
4What would members of your basketball team/business school cohort/ butterfly catching expedition say about you?
Tell us about a time you had to deal with a difficult team member. Teamwork is another highly valued trait these days, companies are looking for employees who work well in groups. If your interviewer doesn't bring up teamwork, do it yourself. These questions are similar to the leadership questions - interviewers are looking for both an openness to ideas and a willingness to nudge team members toward a goal.
5Why did you decide to switch careers/Why did you decide to go back to school/Why did you take time off during college?
Be prepared to walk through your resumé with your interviewer, especially at companies that like to promote from within. They want to know that you're committed to the industry and will be loyal to their company.
6Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
You don't necessarily need to say that you want to work for the company forever, but you should express how you think the position to which you are applying will help you grow.
7So you just graduated. How did you like school?
Loved it. Learned so much. And let me tell you a little bit about what types of activities I was involved in.
8What do you consider your biggest fault?
Interviewers love this question, even though it sort of invites introspection to the highest degree. You may say something like: "I'm a perfectionist." Or: "I tend to work too hard." You may want to prepare a more thoughtful answer, but you should at least anticipate this question.
9If you could go anywhere for 24 hours, with an unlimited budget where would you go?
Sometimes, interviewers will ask off-the-wall questions just to get a better sense of who you are as a person.