Do Your Research:

Before going to your interview you should always do research on the company you are interviewing for. This will help you learn how the company operates, know how to dress for the interview and help you plan ahead so you are ready for the big day.

• Use the company’s website to gather as much information as possible on your interviewer and the interview itself.

Learn your interviewer’s name so when you introduce yourself and greet your interviewer appropriately.

Put your interviewer’s name into Google to see what comes up. Often professionals have an online presence where they share information about themselves that could be useful to know during the interview. This is also an opportunity to see what your interviewer looks like. 

Know the job position you are interviewing for before going to the interview. You may need to go to the company’s website or possibly call the company to find out. This is important so you know what skills and characteristics your position involves.

• When it comes to dressing for the interview, every company has its own idea of what is appropriate and inappropriate to wear. Some companies prefer formal dress and others prefer more casual dress.

Look at the company website or brochures to know what your company expects. It may be helpful for you to see what current employees wear.

If this is not possible, talk to someone at the Career Center. They can give you advice about typical interview clothing and suggestions for your specific interview.

• Before the day of the interview, find out where the interview is taking place. Visit the company’s website and get the address so you know where to go as well as how long it will take to get there.

• Plan out your method of transportation prior to the interview

- Drive yourself

- Get a ride from a reliable friend

- Take the bus

• Have an alternative method of transportation just in case of an emergency.

Quick Tips: Leave before you think you have to. You want to be on time even if you run into some traffic.

Adding an extra thirty minutes to your travel time is a good place to start.

The most important part of an interview is being natural. The best way to be natural on the big day is to practice. A lot. There is no such thing as too much practice. It will help keep you calm and relaxed when you actually have to perform. Luckily, GVSU’s Career Center can really help.

• Mock interviews are the best way to get comfortable with the style of interviews in the US.

Don’t wait! Go straight to the Career Center after you know you have the interview and set up a date and time for a mock interview.

Practice with your friends – get someone to sit with you and ask you common interview questions until you feel comfortable in your own skin. Practice is key to feeling natural in the actual interview.

• Figure out some questions of your own to ask at the end of the interview – this shows you are interested and have thought about it.

- Keep in mind that, while you are interviewing you for the job, you are also interviewing them in a way because you have to like and know you will enjoy the opportunity. 

• Anticipate possible interview questions.

- Think about your own career goals, long-term plans, past successes, and work strengths. Most questions have something to do with one of these things, so be prepared.

- Remember that employers can ask deceptively, simple questions. Know the “good things” about yourself – think of some things that you like to do in your spare time, perhaps. 

- Search the Internet for “common interview questions” Look through more than one site and think about how you would answer each question.

Quick Tips: See what all the possible questions have in common.

Relate them back to your career goals and long-term plans.

Don’t Panic:

Job interview are always stressful. We hope that this booklet has helped you feel prepared.

If you have any other questions, don’t be afraid to talk to the people at the Career Center. They are a great resource. Look around for other international students who have already interviewed in the US and see what they have to say. Maybe they will have some advice. You have done great things to get this far. Keep it up and you will be just fine.


Before the Interview:

• Research: Take the time to research various aspects of the company and the specific position before your interview. Make sure to know what the company does, what they value (try to find their mission statement), and what exactly the requirements and functions of the job you are interviewing for are.

- The more research you do before hard, the more intelligent you will sound in the interview, and you can use this information to make your answers more relevant to the position and company.

• Practice: Look up practice interview questions online and compose answers that you could use. Remember to incorporate your relevant experience and characteristics to what they are asking and looking for.

Grab a friend and have them pretend to be the interviewer. They can ask you the practice questions and you can get practice answering just as you would during the interview.

- When you are answering interview questions, both in practice and in the interview be sure to always BE TRUTHFUL AND BE YOU.

• Prepare: Prepare questions that you would like to ask the interviewer. These questions may include things like, what is their company culture, or how does the interviewer like working for the company?

- Do not ask questions regarding pay in a first interview.

• Present yourself appropriately: Dress for success, meaning in a professional and presentable manner. It is better to be over dressed in an interview than under dressed. Consider wearing a traditional suit and tie or skirt with a dress coat for women. Pick an outfit that makes you look and feel great.

Make sure your hair is pulled away from your face so you are not tempted to touch it during the interview. For men, make sure to groom yourself beforehand (shave your facial hair so that it is clean and professional looking).

Do not wear clothing or accessories that too flashy. Items that are very large, bright or make noise when you move may be distracting to the interviewer and could take away from what you have to say.


During the Interview:

• Arrive 15 minutes early

- Employers look for punctuality

- Think: on is late, early is on time

- Being early allows time for preparation

• Greet your employer

- Verbally acknowledge your interviewer (always follow the interviewer’s lead)

- Firm handshake shows confidence

- Wait until invited to sit 

• Show Confidence 

- Although interviewing can be nerve racking try to display confidence in your words and actions. You were selected for an interview because they company has an interest in you, so express yourself and don’t get nervous.

• Use “small talk” to show communication skills

- Stick to simple topics like the day’s weather 

- Listen and look interested (words to avoid: um, like, so, uh, I don’t know, sure, kinda, hate, what, no.)

- Keep it short and simple 

• Actively Engage in Conversation

- Relax and participate in the conversation. When asked questions do not simply respond with yes or no answers, try to use real examples from your life and experience. This will make the interview run more smoothly, and will give the interviewer a better understanding of whether you are the person for the job.

• Watch body language

- Eye contact is expected

- Upright posture

- If sitting, keep hands on lap 

• Answer Interviewer’s questions

- Use complete sentences 

- Turn interview into conversation

- Demonstrate skills and experiences

• Ask your own questions

- Find out about a typical workday (The interview is not over until you left the building. Anybody can be asked about your behavior)

- Learn about company values 

- Keep questions open-ended


Following Up:

• Show your interest

- Continue to research company

- Stay in contact with interviewer

- Send thank you note to interviewer

• Send references

- Give information to company as soon as possible 

- Let references know they may be contacted (References are usually people who have worked with you and can speak positively about your personality)

• Continue networking 

- Start with existing connections

- Befriend others in same field 

- Check social media and email consistently 

The selection process does not end when you leave the interview. A simple Thank You note to your interviewer can make a huge impression. Send an email or type a letter to the person that interviewed you within 2 days of your interview. This gesture will show that you appreciate the time they spent with you and that you are serious about the position.

Include the name of your interviewer and the company. Thank the person for taking the time to meet with you, and include one statement about what you learned or enjoyed about the interview. You may also briefly discuss why you think you are the best candidate after meeting with them and hearing more about the position and company. Finally close with a statement about looking forward to hearing from them soon.

- Make your note short and succinct. Include the necessary information, but do not go into too much detail. This is supposed to be a quick note, not a lengthy letter.

- Be personal and specific. Make sure to address the specific person you met with during your interview and their company. If your note sounds too generic, the meaning and positive perception may be lost.

CAUTION: do not accept a position without first consulting Padnos International Center for international student work guidelines.

Interview 101

Professional Identity

Page last modified May 12, 2015