A-Z Index


PREPARATION and PRACTICE are the keys to a successful interview. Preparation encompasses knowing yourself and your skills as well as an understanding of the position and the organization/employer.

The interview is one of the most important parts of your job/internship search. It will usually be the employer’s first chance to have a conversation with you. Likewise, it is your opportunity to convince the employer that you are the right person for the job/internship. The employer wants to learn about you, your experience and qualifications. You will want to learn about the organization, job opening and the duties/responsibilities of the job/internship. PREPARATION and PRACTICE are the keys to a successful interview. Preparation encompasses knowing yourself and your skills as well as an understanding of the position and the organization/employer.

Regardless of the format (phone/video or in-person, one-on-one or panel), most interviews take place in this common sequence:

Information: This includes introductions and a few minutes of small talk to set the tone of the conversation
to follow. Often includes a brief summary of organization and position.
Qualifications: Questions and answers about your qualifications for the position.
Conclusions: Explanation of the next steps in the selection process.

Interview Tips

The following links will provide you with some basic information on interviewing and tips for success.

Interview Attire

Dress for success infographic

Tips to Ensure a Positive Impression:

  • Be polished and professional: clean and wrinkle-free.
  • Wear properly fitting clothing that is not too large or too tight.
  • Wear a matching two-piece suit in black, navy or dark grey.
  • Wear dark polished close-toed shoes.
  • Make sure your hair is clean, well-groomed and out of our eyes.
  • Limit exposure of tattoos and piercings.
  • Bring a portfolio or briefcase for your documents.
  • Avoid large amounts of cologne/perfume.
  • Avoid wearing too many accessories and jewelry.
  • Avoid complex and wild patterns.
  • Avoid plunging necklines and bare shoulders.
  • Be sure to take care of your personal hygiene.
  • Clean and trim your nails, look for chipped paint.

When in doubt opt for the more conservative and formal side. It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed.

Links for additional information:

Northwest has created a Career Closet to help students have access to professional dress at no cost. Learn more at

Phone Interviews

Why do employers conduct telephone interviews?

Many employers will conduct first-round interviews by telephone in order to determine which applicants they wish to see face-to-face.   Phone interviews may last anywhere from 15-60 minutes and are generally less expensive and time consuming for both candidates and employers.

When does a telephone interview occur?

A telephone interview may result from several different situations:

  • You are networking and the employer begins a screening process immediately because you seem interesting.
  • You are called because you applied for a position or internship.

What are the guidelines to follow during a phone interview?

  • Should an unexpected call occur when you are in a situation that would make it difficult to converse, let the call go to voicemail.  You can then return the call when you are in a quiet and private place for conversation.
  • Take a moment to compose yourself if the call comes unexpectedly. Ask the caller for a moment while you go to a quiet room, or turn off background music, for example. Take a deep breath and return to the phone with a smile. Remember, this is a REAL interview.

 How do you prepare for a telephone interview?

The unexpected interview:

  • While you are conducting your job or internship search, be prepared for the “unexpected” telephone interview. A call could come at any time.
  • Check the outgoing message on your voicemail. Is it professional? Is it the type of greeting that you would want an employer to hear? Remember, first impressions are important.
  • When you receive a call, it is appropriate to ask the interviewer what type and length of interview (behavioral, technical or both) they expect to conduct.  It is acceptable to ask about setting up an appointment for another time and date.
  • Important - Maintain easy access to your resume and your calendar whenever possible. Have a notepad and a pen to take notes during the conversation. If accessible, you may want to have copies of correspondence you have sent or received from the employer.

The scheduled interview:

  • If your telephone interview is scheduled in advance, be at your phone early, turn off call waiting, if possible, and be prepared to be available for a longer period of time than originally scheduled (e.g., call may be scheduled from 5:00-5:30, but might actually take place 5:10-5:40)
  • Whenever possible use a landline instead of your cell phone in order to ensure a good connection and eliminate dropped calls during an interview! 
  • Access your resume and any notes or questions that you have for the interviewer.
  • Those involved in technical interviews should consider a headset.  Some technical employers will ask you to check your email for a link to complete a coding challenge during the interviews as the screen is shared with the interviewer. 

What to expect in the telephone interview? 

Conducting a Successful Phone Interview PDF

Tips to prepare for Virtual Interviews

Video interviewing is a convenient and cost-effective alternative to the traditional in-person interview for potential employers. However, there are format-specific elements that students and new graduates need to understand and consider when preparing for a video interview.

Here are some recommendations for preparing for video interviews:
    • Understand the technology and be comfortable with itDon’t sign up for a video interview until you’re comfortable with the process. Learn what you can and can’t do with the audio and video controls. Find out what your image looks like—and how to look your best—and where to look once the interview begins. Being adept with technology gives you credibility as an “online professional.”
    • Consider the image and the interview environmentDress professionally as a video interview is an interview. Ensure the background of the interview area is consistent with the image you want to portray to recruiters. Remove or silence all distractions, such as cell phone ringers, e-mail alerts on the computer, music, pets, roommates, and more.
    • Test all settings and connections beforehandMake sure the settings are optimized and all connections are working prior to the interview to avoid any issues during the interview.
    • Be prepared for a system hiccupAnd even though you’re thoroughly prepared, have a Plan B ready in case the technology fails during a video interview. For example, have your cell phone ready to use in case the connection is unacceptable or drops. Being prepared in such a manner and making a smooth transition to another method in light of unexpected problems can impress an employer.
Courtesy of the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Big Interview

Big InterviewNorthwest has a new online tool for students to learn about and practice interviewing. Use your Northwest credentials to create an account and start learning today!