This is the first post in a three-part series of “Job Interview Basics” that will help you feel confident, prepared, and ready for career success. Next up: Tips on answering tricky interview questions and how to ace the most common questions.


Preparing for an interview can feel overwhelming, but don’t stress! Capella University Career Counselor Sue Fransen Way gives the inside scoop on how to interview like a pro, no matter what the job is.


1. Keep Your Answers Short.

To accommodate short attention spans and to make your point quickly, shoot for concise, 30- to 60-second answers. Think of them as little commercials about yourself. But be warned—a verbal minute is actually a lot longer than you might think. Get familiar with how much you can say in that timeframe by timing yourself as you practice.


2. Know Your Audience.

Make sure you spend some time researching the industry, the company, the position for which you are interviewing, and its responsibilities. This will help you cater your answers to the specific interview. It will also help you identify questions you might have for them.

(Yes, you can—and should—ask questions in an interview. See tip #4.)


3. Sound Natural, Not Scripted.

When you’re answering questions, be sure you don’t sound like you are reading from a script. You should definitely spend some time writing out your answers to common questions, but practice saying them aloud without actually reciting them word-for-word. It’s all about practice, practice, practice.


4. Remember: An Interview Is a Two-Way Conversation.

Interviews are meant to determine if you are a good fit for the job, and that the job is a good fit for you. Be careful not to answer questions with what you think the interviewer wants to hear. Answer honestly and ask your own questions so that you can both determine if the job suits you.


The Capella Career Center offers networking tips, job search tools, career counseling, and more. Its mission is to empower students and alumni to proactively manage their careers and make meaningful, and effective, career decisions.