Your Guide to a Successful Interview

If your tailored application package successfully lands you an interview, you’ll need to be ready to market yourself effectively in person. This step-by-step guide will help you prepare for all aspects of the interview.

Main Objectives

As an interviewee, you have a few major objectives to accomplish during the interview process:

  • Demonstrate that you have done your research on the organization and the position you are interviewing for
  • Reinforce your skills and prove you are qualified by talking about your experiences as they relate to the position
  • Persuade the interviewer(s) that you can help solve their problems and meet the organization’s needs
  • Ask thoughtful questions to determine if the position and organization are a good fit for you personally

Before the Interview

Anything on your resume is fair game for an employer to ask about in an interview, so be sure you know how to articulate answers related to each experience you have listed. Be prepared to give specific examples and tell detailed stories about each of your qualifications and accomplishments. Have several examples ready and be able to draw from many diverse experiences to demonstrate how your education and background match the skills needed to be successful in the position.

Research the Organization and Position

Doing your research is a critical step in the interview process. By researching the organization, you will have a better understanding of their mission, vision, goals, how the organization is performing, what it prides itself on, and how your experiences align with the role. Read the “About Us” or “Who We Are” section on the organization’s web site and the most recent annual report if possible. By knowing what the organization values and what the position requires, you can tailor your responses to any questions asked accordingly. Your research may also help you develop a list of questions to ask at the end of the interview.


You may think you know everything you need to know about yourself and what is on your resume, but have you ever said any of those things aloud? It is very important to prepare answers to common interview questions in advance and to practice how you deliver your responses. . Review the Interview Prep Worksheet on the next page, use campus’s Big Interview tool to view common questions and practice responses, schedule a mock interview with your career advisor, sit down with a friend to practice, or write out sample responses to questions – whatever it takes you to feel more prepared. Never underestimate the importance of practicing before the actual interview.


Dressing appropriately for an interview – even virtual interviews – is important since appearance will be part of the first impression the interviewer has of you. Best practice is to dress conservatively with business professional attire (dress bottoms, blazer, dress shirt) and to keep fragrance, makeup, and accessories to a minimum. You should also have a notebook and pen handy to take notes and to have your questions ready. You’ll want to be sure to write down the name(s) and title(s) of your interviewer(s) for post-interview follow up.

Additional Tips

For in-person interviews:

  • Allow yourself plenty of travel time and plan to arrive at least 5-10 minutes early
  • Know where you are going – have the company address and room number on hand as well as the organization and/or interviewer phone number (just in case you are running late)
  • Bring extra copies of your resume and reference page

For virtual interviews:

  • Be attentive to the technical settings – know what platform you’re using and make sure software is updated beforehand, also confirm that video and sound is set up (have the organization and/or interviewer’s phone number handy just in case of issues)
  • Make sure you’re in a location with consistent internet and with an appropriate background. SoHE has interview spaces available to reserve – check our website for more information


School of Human Ecology Undergraduate Career Guide Copyright © by University of Wisconsin-Madison's School of Human Ecology Advising & Career Center. All Rights Reserved.

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