Interviewing

At every level of your career, the job interview can make or break an employer's decision to hire you. Find out how to begin strong in an interview, how to communicate your skills effectively, and how to follow-up after the interview. We offer a variety of resources and services to help you get prepared for all types of interviews:  job, internship, and professional school.  Use the following resources to learn more.

Interviewing Effectively for Jobs and Internships

Effective Interviewing for Jobs and Internships

Learn the elements necessary for an effective job or internship interview.

Before the Interview

  • Prepare for your interview by getting your career goals in focus, identify your main strengths related to the job, and gather specific accomplishments to back up your skills.
  • Research the company and review in advance the most common interview questions and behavioral interviewing techniques.
  • Find out the dress code in advance and dress appropriately.  Here are some guidelines.
  • Practice by yourself or with a friend.

During the Interview

  • First impressions count, so be on time, or even a little bit early, to allow yourself time to relax and feel comfortable.
  • Start strong by beginning on a positive note.  Listen for open-ended questions such as "Tell me about yourself" and respond with your main strengths and skills plus examples to back them up.  i.e.,
    • "I think the most important thing I can offer you is...(main strength)."
    • "One example of this is...(specific proof)."
  • Send the right body language by relaxing and being yourself.  Sit erect, use gestures if they come naturally, and maintain good eye contact.
  • Speak clearly and concisely.  Keep your responses specific.  Ask for clarification if needed.
  • Let the interviewer set the tempo but be prepared to take the initiative if you're not getting the opportunity to make your points.
  • Ask relevant questions (see sample questions to ask employers) to increase your understanding of the job.
  • Close positively, end the interview as you started it by emphasizing your main strength.

After the Interview

  • Write a thank you letter or email to all you interviewed with.  Add any pertinent information you might have left out of the interview and reiterate your interest in the job.  See a sample thank you note.
  • Keep an organized log of names and contact information along with interview dates.
  • Take any additional steps suggested by the interviewer, (completing an application, talking to others, sending a transcript or portfolio).
  • Ask about their timetable and follow up with a phone call.  Cordially inquire and reiterate your interest again.

On Campus Interviewing

On-Campus Interviewing

UC San Diego students and recent alumni have the opportunity to interview with a variety of employers on campus each term.  Interviews are for entry-level positions and internships.  Accessing On-Campus Interviewing (OCI) requires registration through Port Triton.

View the list of employers interviewing

  • Login to Port Triton.
  • Under Quick Links, Select All On-Campus Interviews.

Upload a resume

  • Receive assistance with writing your resume.
  • Login to Port Triton.
  • Select Documents
  • Select Add New to upload your resume/cover letter/unofficial transcript and/or other documents.
  • Assistance with uploading your resume is available in our Career Library on the first floor of the Career Services Center during open hours.

How to Apply

  • Click on Job Title of your interest and Under Application Status, review employer requirements and documentation necessary to be considered for an interview.
  • Review dress code.  Here are some guidelinesext.

If you don't meet the company requirements(major, graduate date, etc.)

  • Under Application Status, a message display why you do not meet the company's requirements.

Interview Day

  • Event type - Open - on a first-come first served basis, qualified applicants sign up for an interview time slot and submit a resume.
  • Event type - Preselect - applicants meeting the company requirements may submit a resume.  The company recruiter will review submitted resumes and an email will be sent to you.

Check your Email daily

  • Companies will use this method to notify you that you have been pre-selected for an interview.

Check to see if you have been pre-selected and to sign up for an interview

  • Login to Port Triton.
  • Select My Interviews, select Interview Requests
  • If you were pre-selected, sign up for an interview time slot within the established deadlines posted on the schedule.
    Note:  Most interviews last 30 minutes and may run over.  Take this into consideration when signing up for interviews held on the same day.
  • Seven Steps to Acing Your On-Campus Interview pdf.

Remove a sign up or resume from a specific interview schedule

  • Login to Port Triton.
  • Select Scheduled Interview and select the interview affected, and resubmit your resume or withdraw.
  • Note:  If the sign-up or resume submission deadline has passed, contact us at (858) 534-6710.

View a list of companies conducting presentations

  • Login to Port Triton.
  • Select Fairs/Employer Presentations and select Employer Presentation schedule to view presentations.
  • Select a company from the list if you want to reserve a seat (RSVP).

Interview Day

  • Go to the second floor of the UC San Diego Career Services Center at least 10 minutes prior to your scheduled interview time and wait in the lobby area for the recruiter to call your name.

Cancellation/No Show Policy

  • Failure to cancel your on-campus interview prior to the sign-up withdrawal deadline date, or not showing up for your scheduled interview time will result in the loss of your interviewing privileges for one full year.   Please contact (858) 534-6710 or email for additional instructions.

Need Help?

  • For other types of assistance, please call (858) 534-6710, or visit the second floor of the Career Services Center.

Informational Interviewing

Informational Interview

An informational interview is an interview you conduct with an individual in a job or profession of interest. Informational interviewing enables you to gain a better understanding of a particular field, job or employer. 

What you can gain from informational interviewing:

  • Learn how to best approach a job application
  • Learn how best to present yourself to a particular job or profession; practice sharing your interests and enhance your chances of receiving an interview
  • Make professional connections and tap into the large "hidden job market" - gaining an "inside sponsor" to speak for your qualifications
  • Become fluent in the language of the industry
  • Gather "inside information" to use when honing your resume and cover letter
  • Build your confidence in your career plan and ability to discuss your interests and how they match with a potential employer's needs

Once you have identified an individual you would like to talk to, make sure you are ready to make the most of their time and information.

Before the Interview

Research your field to gain a basic understanding of the occupation so you can focus on questions that can't be answered elsewhere.

Identify Professionals to Interview

Get referrals from family, friends, and UC San Diego alumni. Conduct informational interviews and gain access to UC San Diego alumni contacts and professional associations in a variety of career fields. Consider conducting several interviews in any one field to hear a wide range of experiences and viewpoints.

Setting Up the Interview

Call the professional to request an interview following these guidelines:

  • Make it clear you are interviewing for information only and are not job hunting.
  • Ask for only 20-30 minutes and then stick to it.
  • Be flexible about when you can meet and, if a personal meeting isn’t possible, be willing to accept a phone interview.

Conducting the Interview

Dress in a business-like manner and be on time. Be prepared with your questions and a notebook in which to take notes. Ask questions such as the following:

  • What attracted you to the field?
  • Describe a typical day on the job.
  • What personal attributes, skills, and qualifications are needed to be successful?
  • What are the satisfactions and disappointments in your job?
  • What are the possible career paths and salaries at various levels?
  • If you had a choice, would you still enter this field? Why or why not?
  • What trends and opportunities are developing?
  • What advice would you give to someone entering the field?
  • Who else could you refer me to who knows about this career field?

Write a thank you letter. Contact anyone you were referred to for more information.

Additional information on strategies surrounding the informational interview may be found in the WSDM - Career Communication Guide.pdf

Follow-Up Thank You Letter/Email

Follow-up

Interviewing to Succeed

At every level of your career, the job interview can make or break an employer’s decision to hire you. 

Follow-up is key.  A Thank You note should be sent within 24-48 hours after your interview.  This can be electronic or handwritten.  Not everyone sends a Thank You note.  Be the person who does.  Make an impact.

Sample Post Interview Thank You Letter

Your name
Address
City, State

Date

Interviewer's name
Title
Company name
Address
City, State

Dear Mr./Mrs.____________,

Express appreciation for the time the interviewer spent with you on (date).

Highlight a key point you learned during the interview about the position, organization or career field. Affirm your interest in the company, briefly restate your main qualifications, and add any important points you forgot to mention in the interview.

If applicable, refer to any enclosed or forthcoming materials (e.g., transcript, application, references) and state what you understand the next step in the selection process to be.

Sincerely,

Your name

Practice Interviewing

Practice Interviewing

  • Get interview practice with biginterview. (Port Triton login required).

With any webcam, MAC or PC, practice interviewing anywhere, anytime.  Simply create a free user account and start preparing for your job, internship or professional school interviews.

Behavioral Interviewing

Behavioral interviewing is widely used in most fields.  Review the following principles and sample questions to prepare for your interview.

Employers have identified specific behaviors/skills that are important to the job.  Their questions are designed to determine if and when you have successfully demonstrated those behaviors in your past.  Cite specific evidence/proof of your successes to demonstrate that your experience was pertinent.

Examples of behavioral questions 

  • Tell me about a time when you had to organize a project under tight time frames. How did it turn out?
  • Give me an example of when you had to deal with an irate customer/client. How did you handle it?
  • Describe the last time you used teamwork to solve a problem. What did you do and what was the outcome?

Sample Interview Questions

Prepare and practice for the interview by reviewing the most common interview questions outlined here.

Assessment

  • What are your long-range and short-range goals and objectives and how are you preparing yourself to meet them?
  • What rewards are the most important to you in your chosen occupation?
  • What expectations do you have in terms of earnings in five years?
  • What do you consider to be your strengths and weaknesses?
  • How would you describe yourself?

Attitude

  • What qualifications do you have that make you think you will be successful in this field?
  • What do you think it takes to be successful in our organization?
  • In what ways can you contribute to our organization?
  • Describe the relationship that should exist between a supervisor and employee.
  • What factors are most important to you in your job?

Your education

  • Describe your most rewarding college experience.
  • Why did you select your college or university?
  • What motivation led you to choose your major/field?
  • What college subjects did you enjoy least?  Why?
  • If you could, how would you have planned your academic study differently?  Why?

Knowledge of employer

  • Why are you interested in working for us?
  • What do you know about our organization?
  • Do you prefer a small, medium, or large organization?
  • What criteria are you using to evaluate the organization for which you want to work?
  • Do you have a geographical preference?  Why?

Behavioral questions

  • Tell me about a time when you had to organize a project under tight time frames.  How did it turn out?
  • Give me an example of when you had to deal with an irate customer/client.  How did you handle it?
  • Describe the last time you used teamwork to solve a problem.  What did you do and what was the outcome?

Sample Questions To Ask Employers

To ask questions during your interview, use the following questions as a guide.

  • What qualifications/personal qualities do you want in a candidate for this job?
  • What are your company's short- and long-term goals, problems, and challenges?
  • Will I be expected to travel?  How frequently and for what duration?
  • What computer/library facilities are available?  
  • What administrative and technical support will I have?
  • Will I supervise others?
  • How much supervision will I receive and who will my supervisor be?
  • What other departments and people will I be interacting with?
  • Will I receive formal or informal training?  Please describe.
For additional help, come into the Career Services Center for drop-in hours or schedule an appointment with a Career Advisor via Port Triton.