How To Prepare For A Successful Job Interview

Did you know only 20% of job applicants make it to the interview round? Preparing for an interview in advance can help you ace the interview and secure a job offer. RVC’s Career Services Team recommends several steps before (and after) the interview to ensure that you make a terrific impression on your potential employer.

Research the company before your interview to learn more about the company and its product, service, or primary function. Visit the company's website for new initiatives and recent news, in addition to researching the company. Find out as much as possible about the position for which you are applying. This research will help you learn what they are looking for in a candidate and allow you to share what you have learned in your upcoming interview. Since the start of COVID, some interviews are still conducted through online conference tools such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Be sure you are familiar with these products, eliminate distractions, and have access to reliable Wi-Fi. If the interview is in-person, ask if they require masks. It's better to know than to show up without one. 

Be on time for your interview. Punctuality says a lot about a person. If an interviewee is on time for an interview, they will likely be on time to work. Give yourself plenty of time to get there and find the company. 

Prepare your responses for interview questions commonly asked. As a rule of thumb, it is recommended that you spend just 20% of your preparation time researching the company in question and 80% of your time focusing on yourself and your relevant skills and experience. 

Common questions can include:

  • What makes you a qualified candidate for this position?
  • What talents you possess will help you succeed?
  • Describe a situation in which something did not go as planned.
    • How did you react?
    • What steps did you take to resolve the situation?

Ask yourself what aspect of this position would challenge you the most.

Tailor your interview responses to the specific position and company for which you apply. “Practice answering these questions while looking in the mirror while noticing your body language and word choice,” said RVC Career Services Specialist Cindy Smaha. “Practice with a friend, family member or better yet, the Career Services Specialist at RVC!” 

Use the company research you conducted in your personal and professional experiences and relate them directly to their job qualifications. Be specific in your examples and use numbers and percentages when applicable. For instance, if asked to describe a situation where something did not go as planned or went wrong, begin by describing the situation, followed by the specific actions you took to resolve the problem. Close your response by describing the results of your actions.

Present yourself by dressing professionally according to the position you seek. Arrive early and greet the interviewer in a friendly manner with a firm handshake. Project your voice and speak clearly while maintaining consistent eye contact. Turn your cell phone completely off or leave it in the car. Demonstrate confidence by smiling, showing interest, and being enthusiastic about the position. 

Conclude the interview process with at least three questions prepared to ask the interviewer. One of the questions you may ask is about the time frame for filling the position. Get the contact information for each person in your interview and send them a personalized thank you note or email. If it has been more than a week since your interview, it is appropriate to follow up if you have not received any communication from the organization. 

Evaluate your interview performance and review aspects that need to be improved. 

Our Career Services Department has skilled professionals ready to assist you with interview techniques and practice! We're located on the second floor of the Student Center on Rock Valley College's main campus, or you can schedule an appointment at 815-921-4100, option 2.

The Career Services, Advising, and Placement department at Rock Valley College serves as a clearing house for off-campus part-time/full-time employment listings and provides job search skills counseling and career advising. Special attention is given to graduates in all phases of securing employment. Services are available to anyone who has ever taken a class at Rock Valley College.