Texas Tech University

The Interview


The interview is the single most important aspect in job hunting. Good grades, an excellent degree, lengthy experience, and a sharp-looking resume won't compensate for a poor impression made during an interview. You must be able to sell yourself effectively. More often than not, it is the small details such as appearance, handshake, etc., that spell the difference between being selected or rejected for a job. Be thorough in your preparation. Since each interview is unique, the more you interview the more confident and skillful you will become.


  • Conduct a Self-Assessment (Take an honest look at yourself focusing on such factors as:
    • Personality - What kind of person are you? Strengths? Weaknesses?
    • Interests - What do you enjoy doing?
    • Abilities/Skills - What do you do well?
    • Values - Why do you want to work?
    • Goals - Where would you like to be in five years?
    • Experience - What have you accomplished?
  • Study the Organization.
  • Review company literature.
  • Prepare important and relevant questions for the interview sessions.
  • Ask others about the organization.
  • Develop a clear understanding as to why you have selected them.
  • Develop a clear understanding as to why you have selected them.
  • Try and discover problems the organization may have and reflect on how you might be able to help them.
  • Check Appearance.
  • If possible visit the organization.
  • Notice how employees are dressed.
  • Pay attention to grooming, styles, etc.

Initial Interview

  • Be Yourself. Your attitude is going to influence the interviewer's evaluation. Don't try to be someone you aren't...just be yourself. Emphasize your strong points and remember that the recruiter is looking for inherent personal energy and enthusiasm. The interview is your opportunity to sell a product and that product is you.
  • Dwell on the Positive. Try always to dwell on the positive. While past failures and shortcomings need not be volunteered, don't try to cover them up or sidestep them. Should the recruiter ask about them, try to explain the circumstances rather than give excuses or blame others. Remember, the recruiter is human, too...and probably has made a few mistakes. You'll create a better impression by being honest and candid.
  • Ask Questions. When Indicated. If appropriate, ask meaningful questions, particularly if you're not clear about the details of the job, the training program, or other job-related concerns, but don't ask questions just because you think that's what is expected.

Stages of an Interview

Stage 1: First Impressions
Topics: Introduction: light conversation about sports, weather, traffic, etc.
Interviewer Expectations: Good, firm handshake; eye contact; proper interview attire/grooming.

Stage 2: Your Qualifications
Education: grades, choice of school and major, special interests, and achievements.
Work: Types of jobs held, level of responsibility experienced, tasks enjoyed most and least, what was gained.

  • Which of your experiences has been most rewarding to you?
  • What type of work environment appeals to you?
  • What skills have you developed?
  • Activities and Interests: Role in campus organizations, fraternities, sororities, extracurricular activities, hobbies, sports, cultural interests.
  • Are you active in any organizations or clubs?
  • What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
  • Interviewer Questions:
    • What led you to choose your field of study?
    • What subjects did you like best? Why?
    • Do your grades accurately reflect your capabilities?
  • Ask others about the organization.
  • Interviewer Expectations:
    • Intelligence
    • Knowledge
    • Interests
    • Willingness to work
    • Maturity
    • Ability to handle responsibility
    • Leadership
    • Attitude
    • Enthusiasm

Stage 3: Career Goals
Topics: Immediate and long-term objectives, interest in the company, geographical preferences.
Interviewer Questions:

  • Immediate and long-term objectives, interest in the company, geographical preferences.
  • What are your long-range and short-range goals and objectives?
  • When and why did you establish these goals?
  • How are you preparing yourself to achieve them?
  • What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
  • What qualifications do you have that make you think that you will be successful?
  • In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our company?
  • Do your grades accurately reflect your capabilities?
  • Ask others about the organization.
  • Interviewer Expectations:
    • Realistic knowledge of strengths and weaknesses
    • Knowledge of opportunities
    • Interest in the company
    • Serious interest in career

Stage 4: The Company
Topics: Company opportunities, training programs, corporate structure, benefits and educational opportunities, chances for promotion.
Interviewer Questions:

  • Why did you decide to seek a position with this company?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • What are your geographical preferences?
  • Will you relocate?
  • Willing to travel?

Interviewer Expectations:

  • Informed and relevant questions
  • Sincere interest in the company
  • Appropriate but not undue interest in salary and benefits

Stage 5: Conclusion
Topics: What you should do next (fill out applications, send transcripts, forward references), further steps the company will take, when you will be notified of interview results, cordial farewell.
Interviewer Expectations:

  • Candidate's attention to information as a sign of continued interest.

Questions to Ask the Interviewer 

  • What personality traits do you consider critical to success in this job?
  • Describe typical first year assignments on the job?
  • What is the best part about working for XYZ?
  • What is the timetable for filling this position?
  • What parts of your job are most challenging?
  • What recent changes have forced your company to re-focus its efforts?
  • What has the impact of these efforts been?
  • What are the most important personal satisfactions connected with your job?



  • Act naturally
  • Be prompt, neat, and courteous
  • Bring copies of your resume
  • Carry out promises
  • Ask relevant questions
  • Allow employer to express himself/herself
  • Read company literature
  • Examine company ratings
  • Evaluate objectively
  • Follow procedures
  • Make yourself understood
  • Listen to the other person
  • Present informative credentials
  • Keep an interview file with all the stuff you need in it. Take notes if you feel like you need to remember important info from the interview
  • Follow up with personalized thank you letters


  • Criticize yourself
  • Be late for your interview
  • Freeze or become tense
  • Present an extremist appearance
  • Become impatient
  • Become emotional
  • Talk too much or too little
  • Oversell your case
  • Draw out interview
  • Make elaborate promises
  • Come unprepared
  • Try to be funny
  • Unduly emphasize starting salary
  • Linger over fringe benefits




Dr. Bill Bennett Student Success Center
Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources
Texas Tech University
PO Box 42123
Lubbock, Texas 79409-2022
(806) 742-2808

University Career Services
Texas Tech University 150 Wiggins Complex
Lubbock, TX 79419
(806) 742-2210
Career Services Web Site