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Prepare for Interviews

Now that you have been selected for an interview

Employers review job applications and resumes and
based upon the review, determine which job applicants
qualify. Applicants that appear qualified based upon
their application or resume are typically invited
to participate with a job interview. A job interview
may be in person with one employer representative
or a group, over the phone, or online through a video
feed. The interview provides the employer an opportunity
to learn more about the applicant and to select an
applicant to be offered the job. 

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, here are some tips for making it a success!

Research the company or organization

Do your homework. Research as much as you can about the company. Here are some specific items to review:
  • the overall size of the firm, its locations, and its history
  • the industry, market, and competitors
  • recent news about the company, awards it has won, and its community involvement
  • new products or services it is offering
  • its reputation among employees and in the community

Learn about the interviewer

If you can, get your interviewers' full names and titles BEFORE the interview. Don’t be afraid to ask if your interview will be one-on-one or in front of a group.

To help you keep track of important information about the interview, use an interview worksheet. Include information about the company and interviewer contact information. Keep track of the location of the interview.Write down date and time the interview is to take place.

Prepare answers to open-ended questions

The interviewer will ask open-ended questions to allow you to describe yourself in a unique way. Be prepared to start with “Tell me about yourself.” Here are some of the most common tough questions.

For each question, make sure to have complete yet short answers prepared.
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • List your three greatest strengths and weaknesses.
  • Tell me about an accomplishment you are proud of.
  • How would your professors (friends, coworkers) describe you?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our organization?
  • Tell me about your work habits.
  • Describe your ideal job.
  • Define success. Define failure.
  • What do you know about our company’s products or services?

You should also be ready to describe situations such as, “Tell me about an instance when you had a conflict with your supervisor. How did you handle it?” The employer will use this rule: past performance predicts future behavior.

Use the Personal Skills Checklist when preparing a resume or for an interview to help you identify your:

  • Job Content Skills (what you have done)
  • Transferable Skills
  • Self-management Skills (what you are like)

Alert your references

Tell your references that you’ve been chosen for an interview. Do this so they know that they may be contacted by the interviewer. Be sure to give all of your references an updated copy of your resume. This will help to remind them of your qualifications. Ask your references if they know someone at the company where you are being interviewed. If they do, try to contact that person before the interview. Do this to find out as much as you can about what it’s like to work there.


Contact a Local Resource Room near you and find out if they perform mock interviews. You could also ask friends or family members to ask you potential interview questions.

Dress for success

Make a good first impression. Dress neatly and conservatively. Remember you are being judged on your overall appearance. You should first research the business clothes suitable to the environment.

Remember, don’t chew gum or smoke. Take a notebook that has extra copies of your resume. Include recent news clippings about the company. And a list of written questions that you want to ask.

Be prepared to negotiate salary and benefits

Do your homework. Research the salary range for the position you are applying for in that industry. Know what you can reasonably accept.

Take into consideration:
  • your geographical location
  • experience
  • education
  • present monthly expenses
Below is a helpful worksheet of the do's and don'ts for negotiating salary and benefits. This includes a "Monthly Expense Worksheet" to better assist you in making good decisions in your job search.

During and after the interview

During the interview:
  • Be prepared to ASK a few questions during the interview.
  • You may want to complete this Interview Worksheet to help you stay on track.

After the interview:
Following up after an interview is a way of showing interest in a job.

  • Be sure to write a personal "thank you" letter to the employer.
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  • Statewide Interest

    Create a Great Resume!

    Illinois workNet Resume Builder The Illinois workNet Resume Builder is FREE to all Illinois workNet account holders. Log-in or sign up External link opens in a new window to:
    • Create or Manage Your Resumes.
    • Create or Manage Your Cover Letters.
    • Create or Manage Your Portfolios.
    • Create or Manage Your Assessments.
    • Create or Manage Your Interviews.
    • Create or Manage Your Video Resumes.
    • Create or Manage Your Resume Websites.

  • Illinois Department of Employment Security: Occupational Employment Statistics

    IDES Logo Find information on entry level, median, and experienced hourly (and annual) wages is available for Illinois, the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), Economic Development Regions (EDRs), counties and the Local Workforce Areas (LWAs) in both Excel and Adobe Acrobat formats.

    Please visit Illinois Department of Employment Security External link opens in a new window.

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