It’s time for you to get a job. How often have you heard that sentence? It’s either a broken record in your mind, one you hear constantly from your parents, or both. If you’ve graduated and finding a “real” job has become an urgent endeavor, perhaps these tips can help. It’s your job to score the interview, but once you get that call, we can help you from there.
We’ve discussed what we think you should avoid in an interview, so now we will talk about what you should do. These tips will help you pass the interview with flying colors. The rest is up to you!
1. Do Your Homework
Go into the interview knowing everything you can possibly find about the company. Know when it was founded, by whom, how it has evolved and transformed, the culture, the number of employees, the various departments, etc. Anything you can dig up on the company is your greatest asset. The more you know, the more intelligent you will come across, naturally. AND, the more interested you will seem. Employers love it when you display your knowledge. It shows that you are determined to obtain the position, and you’re serious about your professional career.
2. Plan Your Visit
This seems logical, right? Well, you’d be surprised. A few days prior to your interview, get directions, and get yourself to the location (around the same time of the actual interview time if possible). Make note of how long it took you to arrive, and add a buffer of about 20 minutes so you can arrive early (or nearly on-time in case there are any delays). What’s the parking situation like? Will you need quarters for the meter? You’ll have your fair share of surprises during the interview; try to minimize them before you actually get there.
3. Be Professional
Be conservative in dress, and behavior. Ladies and gentleman, invest in a suit at this point in your career. It’ll be worth it. If you’re a female like me and dislike suits, get a two piece dress suit, or a three piece skirt suit. Avoid costume jewelry, heavy makeup, and crazy hair styles. Gentlemen, your best bet is to shave and get a haircut. Remember, employers want their employees to take care of themselves. If you can portray a more positive and healthy image of the company, you’re more likely to get hired than the next candidate if all else is equal.
4. Prepare your Materials
This means your resumé, cover letter, and maybe even your letters of recommendation. No matter how many times you’ve sent these materials to your prospective employer, bring them with you anyway. Presenting them in a nice folder or portfolio would be even more professional. If you know you’ll be interviewed by more than one person, you may want to bring extra copies for the others as well. However, take caution. This could backfire if you’re dealing with a company who’s main focus is reducing paper usage or is heavily focused in environmental conservatism. They may think you’re wasteful if you bring extras! This goes back to point number one…research the company!
5. How will you Respond?
You should have a general idea of what some of the interview questions will be, so practice your responses to them. The interviewer will likely ask you about your strengths, weaknesses, what you want to improve about yourself, how you work as a leader and/or as a team player, what your greatest accomplishment has been, where you see yourself in five years, etc. These questions and more could potentially be asked, so have something prepared and you won’t flounder.
Better yet, ask a friend if he or she will help you with a mock interview. Have your friend ask you a series of questions, and give you feedback on your responses after each trial. If you are really serious about knowing how you’re performing, video tape yourself. You’ll get to see what you’re really like! Are you fidgeting? Are you crossing your arms? Are you saying “ummmm”…?? Well, stop that. The only way you can is by continuing to practice.
6. What Will YOU Ask?
This is more important than you might think. Part of you researching the company is to get an understanding of what they value, endorse, believe in, etc. Well, is there anything in your research that conjures up some questions? Write them down. You will always think of something to ask. And if you can’t, make it up. Don’t ever go into an interview without prepared questions for the company. At best, they won’t notice. At worst, they’ll think that you don’t care enough to ask questions about them. In my opinion, this is the no-brainer part of the interview; the easiest part, so don’t screw it up!
The time will come when they ask if you have any questions for them. If it doesn’t and you are getting the sense that they are ready to conclude, try to interject politely and ask your question. Trust me, it won’t hurt-especially if it’s an intelligent one!
7. Thank Them
Always, always, always thank your interviewer. I’d suggest a hand-written thank you, although an email will suffice. Thank them for their time, mention any memorable moments that occurred, re-iterate very briefly why you think you’ll be a good fit, and tell them that you look forward to hearing from them at their earliest convenience. It’s always worked for me; don’t see why it wouldn’t for you!
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