Interviewing—Top 5 do’s and don’ts

Author name
Alicia Rhodes, Assistant Director, Duke University Career Center

The majority of us have this bitter sweet feeling when we know we have an upcoming interview. The excitement and joy knowing that we are moving one step

forward in the hiring process and then the anxiety of the actual interview. What should I do? What should I not do? Those are the questions that are sometimes left unanswered. The Career Center hosted a Practice Interview Day in January, we actually host the event once in the fall and once in the spring semester, and an overwhelming amount of the feedback from students was that you would like a general do’s and don’ts list for interviewing.

You ask and you shall receive, please take a look at the top 5 do’s and don’ts of interviewing!


1. Research the company/organization

Make sure to do your research on the company/organization and position prior to the interview. You may be asked “why would you like to work for this company” or “tell us what you know about our company” and you want to be prepared to answer those questions and speak with confidence about your knowledge of who they are and what they do.

2. Arrive 10-15 minutes early to your interview

Arriving early will give you time to get settled before your interview and it also shows that you are taking the position serious and being respectful of the time of others. This also sets a good example, as if you are late to the interview, the potential employer may think you are unreliable.

3. Come prepared

Bring a padfolio with you or something to hold copies of your resume, something to write on, and a pen to take notes. Always bring copies of your resume to your interview, they may have it printed out, but sometimes they may not, and it looks great for you to have a copy to share.

4. Offer a firm handshake

As you greet your interviewers, greet them with a smile and offer a firm, but not aggressive handshake. This may set the tone for the rest of the interview. If you need to, practice your handshake with a few people before your interview.

5. Ask questions

At the end of the interview, the interviewers will provide you an opportunity to ask questions. Please take this opportunity to ask questions, however be intentional about the questions you ask, and do not ask questions which are easily searchable or available on their website.



1. Don’t dress casually

Wear office-appropriate clothing to your interview. You will want to refrain from wearing jeans and sneakers. If you need assistance with what you should or should not wear, remember you can always schedule an appointment with a Career Adviser to guide you through interview prep or visit us during Drop-in Advising to ask your quick questions.

2. Don’t stand out for the wrong reasons

You can stand out for the wrong reasons by wearing too much perfume/cologne, bright colors, and big jewelry. This can be a distraction from your wonderful interview responses.

3. Don’t use filler words

As you are responding to questions and sharing your story, be mindful of the filler words you may use due to nervousness or needing time to think of a response. Some of the most common filler words are ah, uh, um, like, you know, I mean, actually, basically, ok, and right. Practice your responses and take a small pause instead of using those words. It may be extremely helpful to practice your responses and record them, so you can play them back and hear what your most common filler words are.

4. Don’t answer questions with just yes or no

As you are preparing for your interview, go over sample interview questions and provide responses to them. As you are doing so, think of experiences which you can use to elaborate on your responses and provide the interviewers with an overview of your skills and how you have used them in various situations. If you answer with simply a yes or no response, you are not showcasing your skills or letting them know just how awesome you are. Use the STAR method to guide you with crafting your responses.

5. Don’t ghost the interviewer

If you are unable to attend the interview due to an emergency or illness, please notify the company/organization as soon as you can via phone or email. If you decide you are no longer interested in interviewing, notify the organization that you will not be interviewing as soon as you can. If you ghost the interviewer by not calling, emailing, or showing up, you are engaging in unprofessional actions and are burning bridges. You never know who your interviewer knows or who they may be connected with, your actions can impact you in the future.

As always, if you would like to schedule an appointment with a career adviser for interview preparation, you can do so in CareerConnections. Keep in mind, if this is your first appointment with an adviser, we will require an initial 30-minute consultation and then we can schedule an interview prep appointment for 45-minute to 1 hour. Before your appointment, read all of the Career Center’s Interviewing Guide.

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