How to Stand Out

What should you wear? What questions will you be asked? What questions should you ask? We’ll help you prepared and stand out during an interview.

On this page:

What to Bring

Being prepared is the number one way to impress during an interview, and that includes not showing up empty-handed. Here's a list of things you might want to bring to your interview.

  • Multiple copies of your resume/CV
  • A pen
  • A notepad
  • List of references
  • Notes with talking points/examples of your experiences
  • A list of prepared questions to ask
  • Portfolio (if you have one) or examples of your work
  • Folder/Briefcase (optional)
  • Business cards (optional)
  • Directions and contact information
  • Driver’s Licenses or Passport
  • A smile and positive energy
Map Out Directions Ahead of Time

Take the time before your interview, to get directions and even practice finding your interview location. There's nothing worse than looking sharp but showing up late because you got lost on the way to the interview.

What to Wear

When it comes to dressing for an interview, think trendy, but conservative. Choose a classic suit coat, dress, shirt and pants or skirt. Wear clothing that is clean, wrinkle-free and fits you properly. This will show that you mean business.

Jackets

assorted men's and ladies professional suit jackets

Shirts

assorted ladies blouses and men's button up shirts with ties

Pants/Skirts

assorted men's dress pants, ladies dress pants and a ladies knee length shirt

Shoes

men's black and brown dress shoes, ladies gray flats and black high-heels
A new suit isn't in your budget?

Try visiting local thrift stores for a slightly used one.

What to Say

What you talk about and how you say it can make or break your chances of getting hired. Here's how you can describe your skills and experiences.

What skills do you bring? No matter your field of study, it’s important to speak their language and demonstrate how your academic experiences translate to workplace performance.

Good news—you’ve likely already started to develop important skills that employers seek through your academic and extracurricular activities.

Based on nationally recognized criteria from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

Skill Sets

Critical Thinking/Problem Solving

Exercise sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions and overcome problems. The individual is able to obtain, interpret and use knowledge, facts, and data in this process, and may demonstrate originality and inventiveness.

How to Develop Critical Thinking/Problem Solving Skills

  • Interpreting data through an experiment or survey
  • Identifying inconsistencies in presented arguments
  • Performing textual analysis
  • Learning a computer programming language
  • Conceptualizing models from open literature
  • Preparing a literature review
  • Conducting archival research
  • Organizing, interpreting, distributing, archiving and publishing research findings

How to Describe Your Critical Thinking/Problem Solving Experiences

  • Define a problem and identify possible causes
  • Design an experiment, plan or model that defines a problem, tests potential resolutions and implements a solution
  • Synthesize large amounts of information
  • Form and defend independent conclusions
  • Identify sources of information applicable to a given problem
  • Understand and synthesize large quantities of data
  • Design and analyze surveys
  • Develop organizing principles to effectively sort and evaluate data

Oral/Written Communications

Articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms to persons inside and outside of the organization. The individual has public speaking skills; is able to express ideas to others; and can write/edit memos, letters and complex technical reports clearly and effectively.

How to Develop Oral/Written Communications Skills

  • Writing research papers, reports, grants and proposals
  • Presenting at local, regional and national venues (e.g., poster or conference sessions)
  • Organizing, interpreting, distributing, archiving and publishing research findings
  • Preparing a literature review

How to Describe Your Oral/Written Communication Experiences

  • Explain complex or difficult concepts in basic terms and language
  • Write effective grant proposals
  • Debate issues in a collegial manner and participate in group discussions
  • Prepare concise and logically written materials
  • Use logical argument to persuade others
  • Organize and communicate ideas effectively in presentations to small and large groups
  • Design and analyze surveys
  • Understand and synthesize large quantities of data

Teamwork/Collaboration

Build collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, religions, lifestyles and viewpoints. The individual is able to work within a team structure and can negotiate and manage conflict.

How to Develop Teamwork/Collaboration Skills

  • Organizing, interpreting, distributing, archiving and publishing research findings
  • Presenting at local, regional and national venues (e.g., poster or conference sessions)
  • Take a personality assessment

How to Describe Your Teamwork/Collaboration Experiences

  • Explain personal contributions to the team
  • Collaborate to define a problem and identify possible causes
  • Design an experiment, plan or model that defines a problem, tests potential resolutions and implements a solution
  • Facilitate group discussions or conduct meetings
  • Teach skills or concepts to others

Digital Technology

Leverage existing digital technologies ethically and efficiently to solve problems, complete tasks, and accomplish goals. The individual demonstrates effective adaptability to new and emerging technologies.

How to Develop Digital Technology Skills

  • Learning a computer programming language
  • Interpreting data through an experiment or survey
  • Organizing, interpreting, distributing, archiving and publishing research findings
  • Writing research papers, reports, grants and proposals

How to Describe Your Digital Technology Experiences

  • Understand and synthesize large quantities of data
  • Design and analyze surveys
  • Identify sources of information applicable to a given problem

Leadership

Leverage the strengths of others to achieve common goals and use interpersonal skills to coach and develop others. The individual is able to assess and manage their emotions and those of others; use empathetic skills to guide and motivate; and organize, prioritize and delegate work.

How to Develop Leadership Skills

  • Teaching as a TA, instructor, tutor, trainer or facilitator
  • Leading a research project team
  • Volunteering in student governance and professional associations
  • Collaborating with different groups
  • Leading and structuring research projects
  • Organize a group of students to do a community service project

How to Describe Your Leadership Experiences

  • Facilitate group discussions or conduct meetings
  • Effectively mentor team members and/or peers
  • Motivate others to complete projects (group or individual)
  • Collaborate on projects
  • Respond appropriately to positive or negative feedback
  • Teach skills or concepts to others
  • Navigate complex bureaucratic environments

Professionalism/Work Ethic

Demonstrate personal accountability and effective work habits, e.g., punctuality, working productively with others, and time workload management, and understand the impact of non-verbal communication on professional work image. The individual demonstrates integrity and ethical behavior, acts responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind, and is able to learn from his/her mistakes.

How to Develop Professionalism/Work Ethic Skills

  • Organizing and prioritizing study schedule
  • Balancing academic and personal responsibilities
  • Managing the workload of several courses
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Designing and executing surveys
  • Leading and structuring research projects

How to Describe Your Professionalism/Work Ethic Experiences

  • Work effectively under pressure and to meet deadlines
  • Learn or comprehend new material and subject matter quickly
  • Work effectively with limited supervision
  • Manage a project or projects from beginning to end
  • Identify goals/tasks and create a realistic timeline for completion
  • Prioritize tasks while anticipating potential problems
  • Maintain flexibility in the face of changing circumstances

Career Management

Identify and articulate one's skills, strengths, knowledge, and experiences relevant to the position desired and career goals, and identify areas necessary for professional growth. The individual is able to navigate and explore job options, understands and can take the steps necessary to pursue opportunities, and understands how to self-advocate for opportunities in the workplace.

How to Develop Career Management Skills

  • Organizing and prioritizing study schedule
  • Balancing academic and personal responsibilities
  • Managing the workload of several courses
  • Meeting deadlines
  • Designing and executing surveys
  • Leading and structuring research projects
  • Teaching as a TA, instructor, tutor, trainer or facilitator
  • Leading a research project team
  • Volunteering in student governance and professional associations
  • Collaborating with different groups
  • Writing research papers, reports, grants and proposals
  • Presenting at local, regional and national venues (e.g., poster or conference sessions)
  • Organizing, interpreting, distributing, archiving and publishing research findings
  • Take a strengths-based assessment

How to Describe Your Career Management Experiences

  • Work effectively under pressure and to meet deadlines
  • Learn or comprehend new material and subject matter quickly
  • Work effectively with limited supervision
  • Manage a project or projects from beginning to end
  • Identify goals/tasks and create a realistic timeline for completion
  • Prioritize tasks while anticipating potential problems
  • Maintain flexibility in the face of changing circumstances
  • Respond appropriately to positive or negative feedback
  • Teach skills or concepts to others
  • Navigate complex bureaucratic environments
  • Explain complex or difficult concepts in basic terms and language
  • Write effective grant proposals
  • Debate issues in a collegial manner and participate in group discussions
  • Prepare concise and logically written materials
  • Use logical argument to persuade others
  • Organize and communicate ideas effectively in presentations to small and large groups
  • Design and analyze surveys
  • Understand and synthesize large quantities of data

Global/Intercultural Fluency

Value, respect and learn from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and religions. The individual demonstrates, openness, inclusiveness, sensitivity and the ability to interact respectfully with all people and understand individuals’ differences.

How to Develop Global/Intercultural Fluency Skills

  • Presenting at local, regional, and national venues (e.g., poster or conference sessions)
  • Volunteering in student governance and professional associations
  • Collaborating with different groups

How to Describe Your Experience

  • Teach skills or concepts to others
  • Organize and communicate ideas effectively in presentations to small and large groups
  • Facilitate group discussions or conduct meetings
  • Collaborate on projects
  • Navigate complex bureaucratic environments
  • Learn or comprehend new material and subject matter quickly

 

What's Next

Shine like a star when you answer those experience questions.

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