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Developing Your Interview Skills

After multiple candidates have
applied for a job, the employer will
review the applications. They will
select the best applications for interviews.

Manager – Hi Jack, this is Bill from ABC Child Development. I’m calling to let you know that you have been selected for an interview. Could you come in on Monday at 10:00? 

Jack – Wow, really? Awesome! Yes, I’ll be there. 

Manager – Great, we’re looking forward to speaking with you. 

Jack – I’m looking forward to it as well. Thank you.



Always remember, the interview experience is a conversation, not a quiz. 


When you receive an offer for an interview, it is crucial to prepare ahead of time. The content in this lesson will help guide you through preparing for an interview. 

Multiple Interviews

It is important to note that some employers require multiple rounds of interviews for a job posting. The structure for multiple interviews will vary among companies. Sometimes the interview structure will vary based on the positions within the company. In either case, if a potential employer talks to you about a multi-step interview process, you should ask them for information about what to expect.

One-on-one Interview

A one-on-one meeting is the most common type of interview. You will meet with your interviewer alone, usually in their office or a conference room. The interviewer will ask you questions about your education, skills, and experience.

Panel Interview

A panel interview is a meeting format with several interviewers and one candidate. Panel interviews are typically used to get in-depth information about the candidate from several different perspectives for an important or competitive role. You might be asked to attend a panel interview after a phone screen or initial interview. Each interviewer will ask questions from their unique background that pertains to their role at the company. The panel is typically made up of people from teams you will be working within the position.

Group Interview

A group interview is when an employee or team of employees interviews multiple candidates at the same time. It is often used when employers are hiring for more than one position on a short timeline. You can often find this interview-style in industries like food service, retail, and hospitality. If you are applying for a seasonal retail job over the holidays, for example, you will likely be asked to join a group interview so they can staff up quickly. 

Group interviews allow you to interact with others. Be polite and friendly to the other candidates despite the competitive nature of the situation and listen to their input. Some of it may be useful.

Multiple Rounds

Some positions require you to attend multiple rounds of interviews, each with a different employer. The exact number of interviews will depend on the position and company you are applying for.  Entry and mid-level positions may only require one or two interviews where manager or senior level positions may require three or even four interview rounds.  The exact number typically depends on the specific company’s hiring practices.

The First Four

The First Four Step 1

Greet the Interviewer

While you are waiting for the interviewer to arrive, take a few deep breaths, and relax. When the interviewer arrives, stand up and greet them with confidence. Introduce yourself with a short statement about who you are and what role you are applying for.

The First Four Step 2

Shake Hands

As you are introducing yourself, extend your hand to shake theirs. Handshakes should be slow and firm, but don’t grip too tightly.

The First Four Step 3


You are here for an interview because you want the job, so smile. Smiling makes you appear confident and comfortable, attributes you want to convey to a prospective employer. Smiling also makes your eyes appear more relaxed and at ease.

The First Four Step 4

Maintain eye contact.

While you should not be staring at the interviewer, maintaining eye contact makes you appear interested and serious about the position you are interviewing for. 

The First Four

Arrive a few minutes early for your job interview. Take time to familiarize yourself with the location. Use the restroom if you need it. Check-in with the receptionist or someone to let them know you are there for an interview. You will likely be seated in a room to wait for your interview.


Use Examples: 

During the interview, don’t just tell the interviewer you have important skills and qualities. PROVE IT by using examples from school, home, work, and after-school activities to demonstrate valuable job skills like leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, and organization.

Jack’s Example: 

  • I was the captain of my soccer team this year. We went all the way to State and won in overtime. 
  • My science partner and I developed a science fair project analyzing reaction time. We tested classmates’ reaction time and compared it with teacher reaction times. The project won third place in the high school science fair.
  • I volunteer with my mom at church every Sunday. I help her teach the preschool Sunday school class.

Relate to the Job

The purpose of each question is for the interviewer to decide whether you are right for a specific job. Help the interviewer picture you in the position. Think hard about the job responsibilities, choose your examples carefully, and explain to the interviewer how the experience has prepared you for this type of work.

Jack’s Example:

My mom teaches the preschool class at church on Sundays. There is a kid in her class who is also named Jack. He asked me if we were brothers since we had the same name. Ever since then, I’ve been helping my mom teach her class. I help her write lesson plans, and I help the kids complete their craft projects. I am going to study elementary education in college, all because of little Jack. I want to work at ABC because I think it will give me more experience working with kids. 



Give the Details

Share enough information to allow the interviewer to understand what you’re talking about. Use the CAR technique (see below)to keep your response organized and easy to follow.

Let’s listen

Jack has examples to prove his skills in the sections above, even though he has not had a job before. Now let’s listen in as Abby and Liz respond to the same interview question.

What are your key skills?

What are your key skills? 1

Abby’s Response

What are your key skills? 2

Liz’s Response

You Have Work Experience!

You are involved in many activities that give valuable work experience. Examples from home, school, after-school, community involvement, and work help prove to the interviewer that you can do the job. Before your job interview, make a list of activities you are involved in, then list related work experience or skills and qualities you gained to help you on the job. Use these examples in your interview. 

Jack’s Examples

Captain of the Soccer team

  • I showed up on time to daily after-school practices and meetings. 
  • I kept my uniform clean and ready for games. 
  • I  worked with other team members to plan gameplays and prepare for tournaments. 
  • I listened to instructions and feedback from the coach.

Volunteered at Church

  • I showed up on time for Sunday School. 
  • I dressed appropriately for Sunday School. 
  • I worked with the classroom teacher to develop age-appropriate activities for the preschool class.

Now it’s your turn.

Download and complete the work experience activity. Share it with your mentor and ask for feedback. Keep it for your next job interview.





Take a mental picture of the situation and describe it to the interviewer. Provide details about what was going on, who was involved, and what needed to be done. 


What did you do in response to the situation? Why? Try to provide the interviewer with two good examples of actions that you took.


What was the outcome of the situation? Most importantly, what did you learn?

Now let’s listen as Liz puts CAR in action during her interview for an internship. 

Using CAR 1


In the first part of her answer, Liz describes the situation by creating a mental picture of the situation and describing it to the interviewer.

Using CAR 2


In the next part of her answer, Liz describes her actions and why she acted the way she did.

Using CAR 3


Liz finishes her answer by explaining what the results were and what she learned from the situation.

Now it’s your turn.

Download and complete the CAR activity. Share it with your mentor and ask for feedback. Keep it for your next job interview. 


“Why do you want this job?”

The interviewer will almost certainly ask why you want the job – be prepared! The question is likely to come near the beginning of the interview. Nailing it sets you up for an impressive performance from start to finish! 

When considering your answer, think about these two questions:

  • What made you interested in this type of work or career? 
  • How does this job fit with your future plans?

Jack’s Example: 

Ever since I started helping my mom teach Sunday school I’ve been thinking about becoming a teacher. I have really enjoyed working with the kids in her classroom and watching them learn. 

While working with her I’ve learned a lot about child development and writing lesson plans. I’m hoping to gain more experience while working in the daycare. Right now I’m trying to decide between Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education for my college major.

In Jack’s example, he told the interviewer about his experience in the community, telling the interviewer what made him interested in childcare. Next, he explained that he is trying to decide between two related majors, and he feels this position will help him decide. Doing this relates the position to Jack’s future plans. 

Candid Responses Gone Wrong

Below are some common candid responses that can leave an interviewer nervous about considering you for the position. 

I need the job

What  you shouldn’t say:

  • I need a job to help pay for college, and this one looked interesting.
    • This response may make the interviewer nervous about hiring you. They may believe you will be quick to leave the company if another opportunity arises.

Instead, try this:

  • I will be starting college soon, and I am interested in studying food safety. I think this position would provide me an opportunity to apply my skills in a real-world environment.
    • This response lets the interviewer know you are sincere in your interest in the position and that you are not planning to leave anytime soon.
Pay and Benefits

What you shouldn’t say:

  • I’ve heard this company offers good pay and benefits.
    • While pay and benefits are essential things to consider when searching for a job, companies do not want to hire someone who appears only to be interested in these items. They want to hire someone who is sincerely interested in the position.

Instead, try this:

  • I have heard great things about this company, and I feel like I can benefit from the experience other team members have to share.
    • This response lets the interviewer know you have confidence in the company and its employees. 
Stepping Stone

What you shouldn’t say:

  • I see this as a step to bigger and better things.
    • This response, similar to the first one, leaves the interviewer feeling like you already have one foot out the door and that you will leave the company as soon a something “better” arises. 

Instead, try this:

  • I believe I have the necessary skills to do well in this position, and I know that I will continue to learn new skills while in this position.
    • This response lets the interviewer know that you are interested in the position you applied for and that you are not planning to leave anytime soon. 

Step 1

Establishing Her Interest

In the first part of her response, Liz establishes her interest in the Graphic Arts field.

Step 2


In the second part of her response, Liz tells the interviewer about her background in the field.

Step 3

Getting to the Why

In the final part of her response, Liz explains how her experience relates to the position, and what she hopes to gain form it.

Now it’s your turn.

Download and complete the  “Why do you want this job” activity. Share it with your mentor and ask for feedback. Keep it for your next job interview. 


Do you have any questions?

Asking thoughtful questions is one meaningful way to prove that you want the job. The questions you ask will vary by the company and the person conducting the interview, but here is a list of common questions to ask during a job interview.

Questions About The Job:

  • What does a typical day look like for this role?
  • What are the skills and experience you are looking for in an ideal candidate?
  • What are the biggest challenges that someone in this position would face?

Questions About The Company:

  • What are the current goals that the company is focused on, and how does this team support hitting those goals?
  • What gets you most excited about the company’s future?

Questions About The Team:

  • Can you tell me about the team I will be working with?
  • Who would I directly report to?
  • What other teams work closely with this team?

BE PREPARED by preparing a list of good questions to ask the interviewer and take it with you to your next interview.

Warning: Avoid questions about pay, time off, and details of the job you are expected to know (for example, information that appears in the job description).

The Final Five

Step 1

Thank the interviewer

Thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet you and consider you for the position. Let them know you look forward to hearing from them soon.

Step 2

Shake Hands

Just as you did at the beginning of the job interview, shake the interviewer’s hand firmly and slowly.

Step 3


Smiling makes you appear confident; therefore, you should be smiling at the end of your interview to convey your confidence. Portraying confidence makes the interviewer more confident in you as a prospective employee too. Plus, smiling makes your eyes sparkle.

Step 4

Maintain eye contact

Your eyes convey your interest and confidence levels. The sparkle brought on by your smile carries with it an indication of interest and engagement.  When you maintain good eye contact, you appear more likable as a candidate.

Step 5

Make a final statement.

Reiterate your interest in the position and that you are qualified for the position. Doing this leaves the interviewer with a firm idea of why you are a good candidate for the job.