Before an Interview

Preparation and planning before an interview will help you feel confident when you speak to an employer. Not all interviews will follow the same format, but the conversation will typically be divided into an introduction period, time for main questions and conversation and then a closing.

Types of Interviews

Understanding the various styles an employer may use in an interview will help you maintain confidence during the interview. 

The most common interview types are:

  • Structured:  The interviewer will usually have a focused agenda and a list of specific questions.
  • Unstructured:  The interviewer may ask broad, general questions and will not take charge of the interview. The applicant is encouraged to present qualifications without specifically being asked for them.
  • Group:  A group interview features several candidates at one time.  This style is used to determine how the candidate interacts in a team and is typically used by organizations that hire in large numbers.
  • Panel:  More than one interviewer, or a search committee, questions a candidate. Direct eye contact is important in establishing rapport with each interviewer.


Interviewers will be able to detect how much you know about their organization. Conducting research in advance will help you to confidently answer their questions and show that you’re organized and prepared.

Review the company’s website and look for articles about them in industry journals and newspapers to learn about their:

  • Mission and goals
  • Products and services
  • Organizational hierarchy, including possible career paths
  • Current news
  • Organizational culture, including dress code and professional development
  • Industry trends


Confirm the exact location when you make arrangements for the interview and plan to arrive 10 to 15 minutes prior to the scheduled time.

Consider conducting a test-run to the interview site to avoid getting lost or being late.

What to Wear

You should always wear a suit to an interview, regardless of the organization’s dress code, as it shows that you’re professional.  Watch the short video clips on this page and review our “Dress for Success” boards on Pinterest to see examples of professional business attire for job interviews.

What to Bring

Print several copies of your resume and bring a pen and paper to take notes during the interview. Carry these items in a professional portfolio or folder and be sure to have a list of questions you want to ask the employer.

Review tips to follow during an interview to ensure that you do your best.

Practice Your Interviewing Skills

Use Interview Stream to complete a virtual mock interview or review an interview tutorial. Access thru your Handshake profile.