Back to Career Corner

Interview Prep
The best thing you can do to be ready for a job interview

By Dan Gomez-Palacio
Director of the Grossnickle Career Services Center
Published Summer 2016, Affinity magazine

Interviewing is a difficult experience, whether it’s your first or one of many. The staff at the Grossnickle Career Services Center often gets asked about what is the best thing a candidate can do to get ready for an interview. The answer is simple to say but harder to do: prepare.

There are two main ways that you can prep for an interview, and both are equally important.

The first step is to research the employer. At the interview stage, the employer is usually convinced the candidate can physically and mentally perform the job, so he or she is looking for the best cultural fit. You can accentuate your strengths with knowledge about the organization. What is its business model? What is the history of the organization? What has made the business successful and innovative? What community partnerships does it support?

Go beyond the company’s website to get a broader scope of information. Look at local print and online resources to see not only how the business describes itself, but how others talk about the organization. Showcasing your knowledge about a business tells interviewers you are going to be a great addition to the team and that you are excited about this opportunity. 

Secondly, think through examples of your success. In so many interviews, a candidate will talk through his or her strengths but, without demonstrative examples, you are asking the interviewer to wonder whether these are real situations or just empty statements.

Think through examples from past experiences where you can prove and exhibit your strengths. To do this, we suggest the “S.A.R.” method. S.A.R. stands for “Situation – Action – Result.” Essentially, these are anecdotes that support the strengths you are trying to get across.

To do this, start by thinking about an accomplishment or situation that you handled professionally. Next, sketch out the situation — what was happening at the time? Then, describe the action you took. What did you do specifically to alleviate the issue? Finally, describe the result. The result doesn’t have to be earth-shattering, but finish the example.

If you come prepped with four to six S.A.R. examples, you should be able to prove your strengths and express value you bring to the employer.

Dan Gomez-Palacio is the director of the Grossnickle Career Services Center. Career counseling, networking and resumé assistance are available free of charge to all students and alumni. To get started, contact Career Services at (800) 231-2391 ext. 7425 or visit