Prepare for Interviews


Once your résumé has gotten you to the interview, your goal is to use the knowledge you have gained about yourself and the organization to demonstrate a "match" between your qualifications and the employer's needs. You should familiarize yourself with the different types of interviews that employers use. The interview styles we hear about most frequently from students are screening, behavioral, and case. Try to learn which type of interview you're scheduled to have so that you can be ready for it.

To increase your effectiveness in your job interviews, you should:

  • Prepare for the interview: Obtain a detailed job description and review it carefully; research the organization; and understand how you fill the needs of the position and the employer. There are many resources available online through the Cornell University Library and the Johnson School Management Library as well as hardcopy materials in the Career Services Library in 103 Barnes Hall.
  • Practice interview techniques: Work on your communication skills; become used to talking about yourself, and come to OCS for a practice interview.
  • Perform in the interview: Your primary task is to convince the interviewer that you can meet the employer's needs and goals. Try to relax and smile, but maintain a professional demeanor. Demonstrate your enthusiasm and self-confidence. Don't do all the talking and don't be afraid of periods of silence; watch for cues that the interviewer is still with you. Additional tips on interviewing are available through our office.
  • Follow-up: After the interview, send a short letter of appreciation or a thank you email for the interviewer's time. In this letter you can emphasize any points about your qualifications that you might not have covered sufficiently or that you think are especially important and communicate your continuing interest in the company.

Before any interview, know your responses to the following questions:

  • "Why are you interested in this position?"
  • "What experience(s) do you think make you a strong candidate?"
  • "How does this position fit into your overall career path?"
  • "Do you have any questions for us?"

Practice Interview Program

In order to help you prepare fully for your on-campus and off-campus interviews, the ILR Office of Career Services provides a practice interview program. This program offers practice interviews with a trained volunteer or one of our staff members. You and the interviewer will spend 45 minutes role-playing an interview and going over feedback. This helps you learn what adjustments you need to make in your interview style.

We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to improve your interview performance. You will often find that this program also helps reduce your level of nervousness before the "real" interview with an employer.

Schedule a Practice Interview with on CHATTER. You may dress for the interview as you would for the real thing or in your everyday clothes, whichever you prefer.

Practice Interviewing Online

Optimal Interview offers a way to practice right from your apartment or residence hall. Optimal Interview is part of Optimal Résumé, so you will sign in via Optimal Résumé (click New User in the top right corner to create your login and password). Follow these steps after logging in:

  • Choose Create New Interview from the Interviews module on the right.
  • Name the interview (only you will see it).
  • You will come to a screen with Select Interview Type on the left. Near the bottom of the list, there are three Practice Interview Questions (sets 1-3).
  • Choose one of these sets.
  • You may do all 20 questions by selecting your preferred format on the right. Alternatively, you may select specific questions you wish to answer, and then choose your format.
  • Click Continue Interview at the bottom of the screen to go to the next step where you can see the questions and the suggestions by the online coach.
  • There is a Review Center menu option along the top of your Interview to share the recorded interview with Cornell Career Services. Please do not select that option. They are not currently reviewing them. You may, however, ask an ILR OCS advisor for feedback on one or two answers during Drop-in Hours.