Interviews are a common practice that give the hiring organization an opportunity to assess whether the candidate is the right fit and allows the candidate to make an informed choice of whether the opportunity fits their expectations. Interviews can be daunting — but you don’t need to be afraid! Read below a step-by-step tutorial about how to familiarize yourself with the interview process and some tips to put your best foot forward.  Don’t hesitate to meet with a CNS Career Coach for an interview prep appointment or mock interview.

Step 1: Research

Before going into the interview, you should allocate some time to learn more about the company you’ll be interviewing with and how the scope of your experience fits into the job description’s requirements.

Learn About the Company

This step involves understanding the company culture, values, and mission. Not only does it enable you to better understand what might be expected of you and how you can better put your foot forward, but it can also help boost your confidence. Showing that you have adequate knowledge about the company demonstrates that you are prepared, and excited for the role and allows you to ask better questions for the hiring manager.

  • Review the company’s website, especially its mission, values, and products.
  • Google the latest “news” about the company.
  • Talk to others in your network who have interned or worked for the company.

Review the Job Description 

Be knowledgeable about the position you’re interviewing for and the skills that the employer is looking for. Think about how the combination of your work experience, personal qualities, and academic or co-curricular activities make you uniquely qualified for the position. Identify your skills and connect them to the position requirements.

Step 2: Know What to Expect and Strategize 

Be informed of the organization’s interview process. Is the interview in-person, over the phone or virtual? Who is conducting the interview? Will there be multiple interviews on the same day? Talk to any friends or connections that work with the company and visit Glassdoor to gain valuable insight

Modes of Interviews

Interviews are usually conducted in the following ways:


These are usually 15-30 minute short interviews conducted by a recruiter in the early stages of your application. Their purpose is to screen candidates and ensure that they meet the minimum requirements set by the hiring managers, such as work eligibility, start date and relocation availability. It’s common to have one before you’re moved forward in the hiring process, but it’s possible additional phone screens may be requested. 


In-person interviews put you in direct communication with the hiring manager and other stakeholders in the hiring process. They can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours depending on the company or role you’re applying to. The varying length is dependent on how many members from the hiring organization need to meet with you. You may also be asked to complete a series of in-person interviews during the hiring process. For example, you may meet with one stakeholder for 30 minutes and have back-to-back interviews with 3 stakeholders in total. Since this is an in-person interview, it’s essential to be mindful of body language and professional etiquette.


Virtual video interviews are often substituted for an in-person interview and have the same intentions as the in-person ones. You may be asked to do a series of video interviews with various members of the hiring organization or with a committee. Video interviews may occur via Zoom, GoogleMeet, Microsoft Teams or a similar app. Make sure you practice using the app with a friend before your interview and check that your camera is properly positioned at eye level and your background is tidy.

You may also experience a recorded virtual video interview through a service called HireVue. This type of video interview allows candidates to record themselves answering a set of interview questions and then the video is sent to the employer for review. This is often used early on in the hiring process. Be sure to understand how many attempts you have at recording your answer to each question and when the deadline for submission is before starting your interview.

If it is your first time doing these kinds of interviews, check out the etiquette guide below to make sure you know what to expect and how to act in order to have the best interview experience. It can also be helpful to network with people who work or have worked at the company you are interviewing for to gain more information about the interview process and possible interview questions.

Types of Interviews

It’s very important to know what kind of interview you’re being called for so that you can prepare answers to potential questions accordingly. Explore the different interview types below to understand what to expect and how to prepare for an effective interview:

Step 3: Be Prepared with Questions

Remember that an interview is an opportunity for a two-way conversation: you’re there to determine whether this job is a good fit for you just as much as the employer is there to determine if you’re a good fit for their position. It’s important for you to ask questions at the end of the interview to showcase your interest in the role, understand how the company aligns with your own values, and to get a better understanding of the role. Be sure to:

  • Generate insightful questions to ask the interviewer about the company based on what you’ve researched. Don’t just ask questions for the sake of asking them – make them count!
  • Stay away from questions that can be answered based on the company’s website. Instead, you should ask detailed questions that help you gauge the culture of the company, the projects you’ll get the chance to work on, and the position’s responsibilities.

Sample Questions to Ask an Interviewer

Step 4: Practice, Practice and Practice!

Interviewing can be incredibly stressful for most of us and practicing ahead of time will help you build your confidence. Big Interview is an excellent platform for you to do just that. It allows you to participate in mock interviews with AI-generated feedback, review common questions and how to answer them, and evaluate your responses. Check out our Interview Day Guide for some tips on preparing on the day of your interview.

Step 5: Reach Out After the Interview

Congratulations! You completed your interview. However, the story doesn’t end here. It's a common and appreciated practice to follow up after the interview for many reasons: 

  • Email a thank you note to the interviewer — if you don’t have access to their emails, you can ask the recruiter to forward your thank your email.
  • Provide the interviewer with updated contact information if it has changed since you last communicated
  • If you’ve received other offers or have deadlines and need to hear back from the company, contact the recruiter or interviewer to give them an update and explain your timeline. If you’ve accepted an offer, email them to politely remove yourself from their consideration promptly.

Not sure what to say? Read our professional correspondence guide:

Ethical Recruiting Guidelines for CNS Students

The College of Natural Sciences Career Services Office strives to provide services and programs to empower students in career exploration, professional development, and networking opportunities to connect with employers. It’s important for the professional development of students that they learn to conduct themselves in an ethical manner. Failure to honor agreements with recruiters reflects poorly on the student as well as the university. 

All students are expected to read and understand these guidelines in addition to the consequences of violating these guidelines. 

Want Help Preparing for an Interview?

Book an appointment with a CNS Career Coach