Job Interview Basics

Before the Interview
Learn about the company or organization!

Be prepared to show your knowledge about the company during an interview. Most have websites that can help you learn about them. Find out:

  • What the company or organization does
  • The number of employees and locations in the Philadelphia area
  • Recent changes and new products or programs

Make an appointment with a librarian to learn how to use databases and online resources to research companies!


Getting to the Interview
No matter how you will travel to the interview, plan the trip in advance. Find out the exact interview location, including the correct address, floor, office, or suite number. Figure out how long the trip should take, and add extra travel time for possible delays.


What to Wear
It may be helpful to learn about the culture of a company or organization ahead of your interview. Not sure how formal to dress? Check out the company website or social media pages to look for clues about the appropriate dress code. Business casual is often a company’s default dress code, and is a good choice for most job interviews. A suit, sport coat, button-down shirt, or nice sweater are safe bets. Regardless of what you choose to wear, make sure it is clean, wrinkle-free and fits well!  


Best Practices

  • Arrive a little early and be friendly to all you meet.
  • Bring several copies of your resume and your list of references.
  • Try to relax and become comfortable with the interviewer.
  • Watch your body language! Sit up straight and look interested. Good eye contact, a warm and natural smile, and a firm handshake help you present a confident image.
  • Watch your grammar and mind your manners.
  • Emphasize the positive.
  • Be ready to describe what you can do for the organization.
  • Be prepared to ask questions. Almost all interviewers will ask if you have any questions, so have some ready. Questions about the company should relate to information you've learned from your research.


  • Don't chew gum, bring a beverage, or invite friends into the interview.
  • Don't leave your phone on, turn it off or silence the ringtone so it does not interrupt the interview.
  • Don't exaggerate or lie. You might be tempted to embellish your achievements in the interview, but it will come back to haunt you on the job!
  • Don't be afraid to think before you speak. Think first about what you want to communicate.
  • Don't speak badly about your former employer. If there were problems with previous experiences, try to put your answers in the positive rather than the negative.


Prepare for a Virtual Interview
These days virtual interviews have become increasingly common. Familiarize yourself with different video platforms, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts, and test your internet connection ahead of time.

Follow these virtual interview prep tips:

  • Choose a quiet spot, preferably in your home where you can control the environment, and set up in front of a neutral background.
  • Try and use natural light from a window that’s facing you. Your light source should be behind the computer, not behind you. 
  • Sign into the interview web link 10 or 15 minutes in advance to make sure it is working.
  • Make eye contact by looking at the camera of your webcam, phone, or tablet.
  • Sit up straight. Use good posture to convey engagement and excitement about the opportunity.
  • Wear the same interview outfit that you would choose for an in-person interview.
  • Practice with a friend!

Sample Interview Questions
Take a look over these sample interview questions below (adapted from Glassdoor). Practice answering them to become more comfortable and prepared before your interview.

  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Why are you interested in working for this company?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?
  • Why do you want to leave your current company?
  • Why was there a gap in your employment between [insert date] and [insert date]?
  • What can you offer us that someone else can not?
  • Are you willing to relocate?
  • Are you willing to travel?
  • Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
  • What is your dream job?
  • How did you hear about this position?
  • What would you look to accomplish in the first 30 days/60 days/90 days on the job?
  • Discuss your resume.
  • Discuss your educational background.
  • Describe yourself.
  • Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Why are you looking for a new job?
  • Would you work holidays/weekends?
  • How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?
  • What are your salary requirements? (Hint: if you’re not sure what’s a fair salary range and compensation package, research the job title and/or company first.)
  • Give a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.
  • What was your biggest failure?
  • What motivates you?
  • What’s your availability?
  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.
  • How do you handle pressure?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Are you a leader or a follower?
  • What was the last book you’ve read?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • What are some of your leadership experiences?
  • What do you like the most and least about working in this industry?
  • Would you work 40+ hours a week?
  • What questions do you have for me?

After the Interview
A thank you note email should be sent the same day after the interview. Thank your interviewer for the opportunity, remind them you are interested in the job and highlight the strong points of your interview and/or skills you possess that enhance your application.

You can find sample Thank You letters and more information on how to write them on websites such as The Balance Careers and The Muse.