A pre-screening or first-round interview is frequently used to vet candidates before arriving at a smaller pool of candidates they intend to bring on-site or move into second or third round interviews. It’s usually conducted via the phone or in a virtual format. Be prepared for 25-40 minutes of back-to-back questions, with 3-5 minutes to ask any questions you may have at the end. You may not make it to the next round, so be sure to prepare talking points and questions to ask the interviewer ahead of time. Try to align what you’ll be saying based on the qualifications they are looking for in the role, so it’s easy for them to understand why you’re qualified. It is also very possible you will receive a technical interview or assignment if you make it through this round.  

On-Site or Additional Rounds

Typically, second to third round candidates compete with very few other candidates. You could be asked to physically interview on-site or continue to participate in the interviewing process. Either way, you’ll want to know your audience, since usually at this point you are meeting with your future team, supervisor, etc. in either 1:1 interviews or in a panel format. The HR representative or recruiter who set up this round will usually tell you who you are meeting with, as well as any important logistics. Be sure to arrive 15 minutes early if you are interviewing on-site and ask questions regarding attire beforehand if you have any concerns.  



One of the reasons students are encouraged to keep a spreadsheet of the openings they apply to is because initial phone screenings can come out of nowhere. It’s important to know what role they are calling you about and if it’s not a good time to talk, be honest and see if you can call them back that day at another time. If it’s pre-scheduled, try and wear professional attire even though they are not seeing you, as it will help maintain your composure and not sound too relaxed. Try to take notes and circle or highlight elements of your resume you want to discuss in advance, as well as jot down any questions you want to ask them at the end. Keep in mind these interviews tend to go very quickly so be concise in your responses.  


You’ll want to make sure you have a quiet place to interview virtually if possible. The Career Center has interview rooms available for this purpose, you just have to schedule in advance. These types of interviews also tend to go by very quickly, so prepare for this as you would your phone interview, but make sure you’re smiling and maintaining eye contact when appropriate.  


On-site interviews typically consist of a series of interviews with your future team, supervisor, leadership, etc. or sometimes multiple people will ask questions in a panel format. Be sure to research everyone you can ahead of time and tailor the questions you want to ask them accordingly. It is very possible you will be asked the same question by multiple teams, so try and maintain your enthusiasm throughout the process.  

Interview Preparation

Do Your Research

Before any stage of the interview, you want to do your research. Be prepared to answer why you were interested in that particular role and that company, as well as concrete examples of why you are qualified for the position. Most job descriptions include some relevant information, but this is also where informational interviews can be useful. If you’ve previously spoken with someone at the company or in their field, the information provided will help you tailor your responses accordingly. 

Mock Interviews

It’s important to practice saying your responses to frequently asked interview questions out loud to build confidence and be more concise. Through the university, you have access to mock interviewing software, called Big Interview, that will let you record videos of mock interviews, as well as provide sample questions based on the type of role and industry. Be sure to sign up for it using your Pitt email so it’s free. You can also practice interviewing with your SCI Career Consultant during a scheduled appointment or drop-in office hours. There are some sample questions listed below.  


While many technical roles do not require business professional clothing, when you interview it’s important to look more polished than the current employees. You don’t necessarily have to wear a suit or dress, but just try to look your best. If you have any questions about attire or dress codes, be sure to ask the recruiter who set up the interview and they can provide further details beforehand. If you need interviewing attire, check out the Career Closet located in the Career Center, where you can rent out clothing for interviews, networking nights, and more.  

Sample Interview Questions


These are open-ended questions that do not necessarily have right or wrong answers. They’re designed to get to better know the candidate. Some examples include:

  • Can you tell me about yourself? 
  • Why are you interested in this role/company? 
  • What led to your interest in (your major/field)?
  • How did you like working at (x company)?  
  • What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
  • Can you name 1-2 strengths you’d bring to this role/team? 
  • Do you see any challenges with this type of role?  
  • What type of person do you find it difficult to work with?  
  • Are there any questions you have for me? 

Questions to ask the interviewer

It’s extremely important to ask the interviewer questions when they ask if you have any – this is your chance to learn more about the role and showcase your interest in it. Interviewing is a two-way street and you want to make sure you’re also a good match for the role and company. Some sample questions to ask include:  

  • What does a typical day for someone in this role look like?  
  • How would you describe an ideal candidate for this role? 
  • How do you define success in this role? 
  • What do you like the most about working for this company? 
  • How would you describe the company and/or team culture? 
  • Are their opportunities for advancement or professional development? 


Since past performance can be a good predictor of future performance, interviewers love to ask behavioral based questions. You’ll know you’re being asked one of these questions when they start off by saying ‘can you tell me about a time when…’ or ‘can you share an example of…’   

To be concise, it can be helpful to implement the STAR Method, which stands for Situation, Task, Action, Result. Try to provide specific information for each part of the method. For more information, check out this article here. Some example questions include:  

  • Tell me a time when a project didn’t go as planned 
  • Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and achieved it
  • Was there a specific time when you were working on a team project and someone didn’t do their fair share of the work? What did you do and what was the result?  


Technical interview questions can come up in any step of the interview process. Sometimes they are asked in an initial phone screening to determine a candidate’s comfort level with a particular skill, they can be an assignment, or be part of an on-site interview. While you are not meant to ace these interviews, it is important to show your work and how you arrived at your solutions. Here are some resources where you can learn more about technical interviews, as well as practice them:  


Case interviews are hypothetical situations that are more frequently brought up in consulting interviews. Here are some resources for preparing for them:    

Interview Follow-Up

Regardless of the type of interview or the format, be sure to send a thank you email 24-48 hours after each round. You can reiterate what made you interested in the opening, as well as any key points on why you’d be a good candidate. If you interview on a Friday, try and send an email prior to Monday. A well-written thank you email can really make the difference between two equally qualified candidates.