So, you landed an interview – CONGRATS!

Getting an interview ​brings you a step closer to getting the job or internship, but your work is not done yet. Interviews take a LOT of preparation – you should treat the interview as an exam and the preparation like studying.

Career Connection has put together this guide to help students know how to prepare and what to expect for upcoming interviews. Each company will have a different interviewing style, so it is very important that you do your research before the interview. If you have specific questions, please visit Career Connection at North Hall 2119.


You have received an interview offer. Now what?

Consider both your schedule and the employer’s timeline.

Usually the employer gives you some sort of frame of reference (i.e. “Could you let us know when you are available next week?”). If your schedule permits, you should try to put the interview as far in the future within the employer’s timeline as you can to allow for the maximum amount of preparation time. 

Think about timing.

You should consider what type of person you are and what time of the day you tend to do your best work.

  • Are you a morning person? Is it better to get the interview done in the morning so you are not stressing about it all day?
  • Are you an afternoon person? Is your mind clearer after you have been awake for a certain amount of time?
  • Do you have a busy week coming up? Will you have enough time to study before the interview?

Get back to the employer as soon as possible.

As soon as you have decided on the right time and dates for your interview, get back to the employer immediately.

  • Try ​your best to ​stay within the employer’s suggested interview timeframe. This might mean canceling coffee with friends, but it is important to understand how difficult coordinating can be for employers.
  • In the case that you cannot make the interview (you have an exam, you are having surgery, etc.), do not be afraid to say you are unavailable in a friendly manner. The employer already wants to interview you, requesting a different time is not going to make them revoke the interview offer. That being said, if you cannot do a time they suggest, you should suggest a time or two in response.
  • If you can pick the time, give the employer multiple options; often they have to coordinate with multiple interviewers who are also busy.

Once you have set your interview time and date, it is time to get to studying!

How do you prepare for an interview?

Know the company you are interviewing with.

You should know the company’s mission statement, culture, what they do and who they are. A common question is “Tell us what you know about the company?” or “Why [company]?” You should be able to answer those without hesitation.

Know the position you are interviewing for.

You should review the job description and know it intimately, as well as the surrounding division or department the position is in. Your answers should relate back to highlighted desired attributes outlined by the job description. 

Practice out loud.

Sometimes it is useful to write down the answers you want to give to certain questions, but it is most important that you practice your answers out loud. It is also helpful to practice in front of a mirror to see the types of faces and hand gestures you make, and if you come off as nervous.

What do you wear to an interview?

Dress for the job that you want.

If you want to be an Investment Banker, you need to dress like one who is about to meet with a client.

Dress for success.

Make sure you are comfortable in what you are wearing. You have a million other things you will be thinking about, you do not want to be focusing on how your shoes are too tight or your skirt is too short the whole time.

When in doubt, dress up.

First impressions are everything. You never want to walk into an interview and be the most casual dressed person in the room. You want to show that you are taking the opportunity seriously.

Do not let your clothes distract from your personality.

Your clothes should not do the talking for you. It is fine to show off your own style but do it in an understated way.

See Career Services’ Interviewing Page for more information on what to wear for interviews.

First Interview

The first interview could be in person, virtual, or on the phone.

In almost any position, the first interview is usually behavioral: the company is trying to find out more about you, your personality, and how that fits with the culture of the firm. That being said, you should be ready for a couple of technical questions; they are trying to gauge whether or not you should go on to the next round.

If possible, try to use websites like Glassdoor to see if you can find interview questions for your particular position at that company. It is also helpful to just Google “popular interview questions” and practice answering as many new questions as you can.

Second Interview

The 2nd interview is usually in person, at the firm’s office. If the firm is far away, they may pay for a flight and a hotel for the day of your interview.

 Second interviews are usually longer, with senior staff, and are typically much more difficult than the 1st interview. Often, second interviews are with several different staff members from different departments or divisions of the firm; people you will be working with in the position.

In preparation, your studying should be much more technical. You may have to complete a challenge or solve a problem in this interview; the firm wants to see how you can work under pressure and your capacity for problem-solving.

Third, Fourth, & Fifth Interviews

Many firms have more than just a couple of interviews. It is incredibly expensive, labor intensive, and time consuming to train new employees, and so they really want to be sure that you are the right fit.

Financial and Consulting firms often have interviews called “Superdays” where they fly all candidates out to the office headquarters and put interviewees through an intensive day full of interviewing, problem-solving, and networking to really test the candidate.

If you are on a 5th interview and do not feel any closer to getting the job, there is an appropriate way that you can inquire about when you might hear about the position and if there is anything else that the firm needs from you. That being said, patience is the best policy; there is often a lot of red tape involved in hiring because it is such an expensive and time-consuming process.

Additional Resources

Hopefully this guide will give you an idea of what to expect in an interview. Keep in mind that every company is different and has a different interviewing style.

Below are some additional resources for interviewing:

UCSB Career Services’ Interviewing Page and Big Interview



Accounting Article on Big 4 Interview Questions

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