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Washington State University


Seize the opportunity to show that you are skilled, well spoken, and a good fit for a company

Whether you’re having informal chats at a career fair or a formal, one-on-one interview, you need to prepare to represent yourself well.

Before an interview or career fair

Research companies of interest

For each company that interests you, know the basics:

  • Products, services, customers, markets, etc.
  • Organizational structure and size
  • Mission, goals, and values
  • Positions offered/career paths and types of jobs
  • Locations of offices, headquarters, etc.
  • Marketing campaigns and competitors
  • CEO and other upper-level management

Look for background information in the following places:

  • Company websites
  • Company’s annual report and press releases
  • Professional journals, magazines, and other publications

Determine how you could fit

  • If you are applying for a specific job, learn as much as you can about it.
  • Be able to articulate why you are interested in a specific company.
  • Match your qualifications to the company.

Prepare an Elevator Pitch

Prepare a 30-second introduction for yourself. Include:

  • Your name
  • Your year in school and major/minor
  • Career goals or interests
  • What makes you unique (club involvement, leadership, work experiences, etc.
  • End on a question specific to whom you are speaking with

Example for Creating a Winning 30 Second Elevator Pitch

  1. (Who are you?) Hello, my name is ______ (offer handshake)
  2. (Mention a link if you have one) ________ suggested I contact you.
  3. (Connect yourself to them by mentioning some personal information) I am a ______ studying _________. OR I am interested in ___________.
  4. (Schmooze a little – acknowledge that you know a bit about them or have a mutual interest) I see/understand that you ______. I admire what you have done with ____. The _____ with _______ is very interesting.
  5. (Ask a leading question) What can you tell me about ________? I would like to hear more about _________.
  6. Thank you for your time. (Get contact info!) Do you have a business card?  Here is my card.  (Offer your info) I would love to talk with you more about this.  This is great information.  May I contact you later?

Anticipate questions

  • Practice answering questions with a mock interviewer and/or yourself in the mirror
  • Prepare three or four stories/experiences that illustrate your past performance using the STAR approach:
    • Situation: Describe the specific situation that you were in. This can be from a previous job, a volunteer experience, or any relevant event.
    • Task: Describe the task you needed to accomplish. What was the goal?
    • Action: Describe the action you took and keep the focus on what you did.
    • Results: Explain the results you achieved. What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn?
  • Have two or three questions prepared to ask each representative individually.

Questions that interviewers may ask you

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What is your most important accomplishment to date?
  • What motivates you?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • Tell me about some of your recent goals and what you did to achieve them?
  • What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
  • What major problem have you had to deal with recently?
  • What is your greatest strength?
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • If I were to ask one of your professors or a boss to describe you, what would they say?

Questions that you might ask your interviewers

  • What do you like best about your job?
  • What do you like best about this company?
  • What is the most important quality you are looking for in a candidate for this position?
  • What are your expectations for the person you hire?
  • What do you see as the main priorities of this position?
  • What do you see as the main challenges for this position?
  • Do you offer a training program? If so, can you explain it?
  • What are the advancement opportunities for this position and the typical time frame for advancement?
  • What makes this company/organization different from others?
  • What would a typical day be like in this position?
  • Where do you see the company headed in the next 3–5 years?
  • Can you explain your organizational structure?
  • How would you describe your corporate culture?
  • I’m excited about this position. What are the next steps in the hiring process?
  • What is your timeline for making this hiring decision?

Follow up and Thank You Cards

Send the interviewer an email or handwritten thank-you card within 48 hours. Doing so solidifies your interest in the position, demonstrates your professionalism, and distinguishes you from other candidates.

  • Use an appropriate “business-style” card
  • Send the card so the employer receives it within two or three days
  • Thank the recruiter for their time and prompt consideration
  • Don’t talk about yourself (except to briefly mention something important you forgot to say in person)
  • Write in a professional and formal manner—no slang or abbreviations
  • Keep it simple and brief
  • Address the card to the specific individual you talked to using Mr. or Ms.
  • If you met multiple people, write to each of them an individual card
  • Have someone proofread your cards to avoid errors

Schedule a Mock Interview

Make an appointment with a CCB Career Consultant on Handshake to schedule a mock interview.