What's On This Page?

Interviewing for Jobs Beyond Academia | Negotiating for Jobs Beyond Academia
Action Steps Checklist | 

Interviewing for Jobs Beyond Academia

InterviewingThe purpose of the resume and cover letter that you spend hours working is to get you an interview, and so it is the interview itself that helps you get the job. Interviews come in all shapes and sizes. There are the screening-type interviews over the phone or video. There are very structured interviews where each candidate is asked exactly the same questions so their answers can be directly compared. And then there are informal interviews that feel more like a conversation, where there don't seem to be any questions asked at all. Types of interviews include case interviews for consulting roles, technical interviews for tech roles, and behavioral interviews for most industries. The type of interview you might get depends on the type of role you are applying for, and the type of organization you hope to get an offer from. 

In most cases, the preparation for any of these interviews is much the same. You must know as much as possible about the organization and the role you are interviewing for. That means that you'll want to investigate the people you will be speaking with at the interview beforehand (Google-stalking is encouraged), and you should be excited to answer the questions that are typically asked in every job interview, or if no questions are asked, to share the same information with the employer that you would have done if they had actually asked you these questions.

InterviewingIndeed, a good strategy for any upcoming interview is to think about what you want the interviewers to know in terms of your skills and experiences, come up with examples that illustrate these, and then look for every opportunity to use these examples in your interview answers. If you have come up with 3-4 examples of your skills in action, and have practiced talking through these examples out loud before the interview, then you can easily adapt the examples to answer a wide range of questions.

As you prepare for interviews, take a look at our Guide to Interview Preparation, as well as our webpages on question types, sample questions by industry, etiquette/appearance, and interview practice & resources. Don't forget to book a mock interview appointment with a Career Advisor via Handshake and to review this mock prep sheet before your appointment.

Negotiating for Jobs Beyond Academia

If you've received an official offer letter from a potential employer, congratulations!

Let's face it, most people aren't taught how to negotiate. For many people, the first question they have as they proceed in a job search is: when should you negotiate? You should only negotiate after you've received a written offer! Not during the first round of interviews, not during the last round of interviews. That's because you don't want to start making requests when the institution hasn't offered you the job yet, otherwise, they might not make you the offer. The next question people often have is: should you negotiate your job offer? We believe that there are many opportunities to negotiate. You may want to negotiate because you'd like more time to consider your job offer, the salary offer is lower than what you expected, the start date doesn't give you enough time to move to a new city, or any other reasons you may have.


Once you've decided that you'd like to negotiate with your potential employer, do your research if you haven't done so already. Research and understand your own needs and desires (for example, what's your financial "bottom line"? Will this job allow you to pursue your larger career goals?) as well as the organization's culture, context, and resources. Next, prioritize the list of things you'd like to request and practice asking for those things out loud. You'll then want to have a phone call with your potential employer to negotiate because it's much easier to convey your enthusiasm for the job offer while making your requests in a polite conversation than it is to do in writing, where tone can easily be misread. In your discussion, be sure to speak with confidence, respect, and optimism. After your conversation, it can be helpful to send a brief note summarizing the discussion and thanking your potential supervisor for the phone call.

Before you receive or accept a job offer, it's a good idea to chat with a Career Advisor about how you might approach negotiations. Just make an appointment via Handshake.

Action Steps Checklist

Below are some suggested steps for you to take as you begin the process of interviewing for jobs beyond academia and negotiating offers. Make an appointment with a Graduate Student & Postdoc Career Advisor via Handshake to discuss your specific plans for interviews and negotiations.


Make an appointment with a Career Advisor via Handshake to conduct a one-hour mock interview.


Reach out to professionals in your network to help you prepare for interviews.


Review the mock interview prep sheet before your mock interview with a Career Advisor.


Use InterviewStream to select interview questions related to your career fields and record your answers in preparation for your interview.


Attend Career Services' Job Search Series workshops and to learn about interviewing and negotiating.


Make an appointment with a Career Advisor via Handshake to discuss your strategy for negotiations.


Q: What does a mock interview at Career Services look like? How should I prepare for one?
A: When you make an appointment for a mock interview, we ask that you send all job materials along with the job announcement to the advisor that you're meeting with. What we do is review your materials and then draft interview questions that you'll likely encounter during your real interview. During the mock interview, we play the role of interviewer asking you questions, and we have you play yourself answering those questions. We usually record this mock interview, and then debrief with you by reviewing the videos of each of your answers together and discussing ways you can strengthen your answers. Before your mock interview, we recommend that your review this mock interview prep sheet so that you can make the most of your mock interview.
Q: I just had an interview with an employer, and they told me they'll get back to me in a week. It's been over a week, and I still haven't heard back. What should I do?
A: It's perfectly fine to follow up, especially if they haven't contacted you in the timeframe they've provided. Assuming that you've already sent a thank you note within 24 hours after your interview, take this opportunity to reiterate your strong interest in the role and how you might contribute to the organization. You can then ask if they might have further updates about the search process that they can share with you.
Q: I've just been made an offer! However, the employer is only giving me five days to decide if I
will accept it, and I need more time to decide since I am still interviewing with other organizations that I'm interested in. What should I do?
A: We encourage you to ask the employer for the time you need to make a good decision, since it is the first thing you can negotiate for. Some will be flexible. If they are unwilling to give you more time, you will likely need to weigh the pros and cons of the offer and decide if it is an opportunity that you would be relatively happy accepting. If you are feeling unsure of your decision and overly pressured by the employer, we encourage you to factor those feelings into your evaluation of the offer and consider how happy you would ultimately be working there. While Career Advisors are here to help you weigh your options, ultimately this decision is yours and we hope that you will think carefully about it. Please remember that when you accept an offer, even verbally, you have committed to the employer and should stop interviewing immediately and withdraw any other applications.