For all you juniors and seniors out there, we have entered full-blown interview season. I am by no means an expert on the interview process, but I have been through them. There are some tips and advice I have picked up along the way that I believe will be beneficial to anyone who does not know where to start when it comes to interviews. Follow these 12 tips to increase your chances of getting that dream job.
1. Research the Company and Position You are Applying For
You do not want to be in a situation where the interviewer asks you “Why do you think you would be a good fit at _____?” or “What part about ____ Company interests you the most?” and you don’t have an answer for them. It only takes a few minutes to do a quick search on the company you are applying for. Simply visiting the company’s website will give you a better feel for their culture and environment and can help you better prepare yourself for the interview. If the company website is bright and inviting, you know that you can let your personality really shine through on the interview. Also learning more about the position you’re applying for will allow you to tailor your answers and skills toward what specifically the company is looking for.
2. Arrive Early
You should plan to arrive to your interview 10-15 minutes before your scheduled interview time. This shows the interviewer that you take their time seriously and that you would be a dependable employee. This extra time may also protect you if you encounter unforeseen delays such as traffic or road construction. Although you should plan to physically be in the office 15 minutes early, having those extra few minutes can be the difference between being on time for the interview or being late.
3. Come Prepared with Copies of Your Resume
Although most employers will likely have your resume already printed out for you interview, it is better to be safe and have a few copies ready to go in your binder or portfolio. You should print more than one in case you are handing them out to multiple interviewers. You want each interviewer to have their own copy of your resume so they can read through it and write down any quick notes they take during the interview.
4. Say Hello to Everyone and Be Polite
While you are waiting for the interviewer to call you in to begin the meeting, say hello to the other employees you encounter. Be polite to everyone that you come across, especially if you are speaking with the receptionist. The receptionist decides whether or not your message actually gets passed along to the boss, so you definitely want to start off on the right foot.
5. Do Not Bring Anything Unnecessary
The interview should focus on you and the information on your resume. You should avoid bringing in a water bottle or a cup of coffee to the interview because it can become distracting. Having a drink in your hand when you first enter the interview space can also make you look unorganized while you fumble around with your papers to give a proper handshake. You should also arrive to the interview alone and should be sure that if any of your friends or family came along with you, that they stay in the car. Gum, candy, and any type of food should be avoided so that you are not mumbling your words or loudly chewing your gum without noticing. Your phone should stay tucked in your pocket or in your bag and you should double check that it is on silent before the interviewer calls you in.
6. Shake Hands
As soon as the interviewer calls you in for your interview, offer your hand for a firm handshake. If you initiate the handshake rather than waiting for the other person to extend their hand, it shows you are confident, professional and friendly.
7. Maintain Eye Contact
This may seem like a given, but it is often overlooked by candidates. You may think you are giving good eye contact, but are you really? The only thing you should look down for is to reference a written work such as your resume. Now, you don’t want to be uncomfortably staring at the interviewer the entire time, but you should definitely try to maintain comfortable eye contact when you are providing an answer to their question. This shows that you are confident in yourself and that you know what you are talking about. After all, the interview is about you, so you should be able to answer questions without constantly referencing your resume or notes.
8. Show Yourself Off
You will likely be in competition with other candidates, and your interviews may even be scheduled on the same day. Be sure to highlight the points that sell you, whether it is your involvement in a club, your experience, your vision, or the classes you are taking in college. You really want to stand out and offer any information that will make you a better candidate than the person after you. It is okay to be proud of your accomplishments and you should want to talk about them.
9. Be Positive
I am definitely very guilty of being my own worst enemy. During the interview process, it is easy to become overwhelmed or discouraged. It is important to remember that even if you are up against 30 other candidates for the same position, somebody will get that job. You have just as much of a chance as anyone else, and you should be confident in yourself and your abilities. Having a “grass is greener on the other side” mentality will only stop you from reaching your highest potential. Stay positive, and don’t sell yourself short.
10. Have Questions Prepared to Ask the Interviewer
When the interview is coming to a close, the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions for them. This is your opportunity to show them your interest in the position, so don't ever go in without preparing a few questions to ask. It can be something as simple as “What is the most important trait you look for in a candidate?” or “What does a typical day look like for this position?” These questions should be something you are genuinely curious about, and you should take written notes on the interviewer’s answer so you have the information for later.
11. Send a Thank You Message
Once your interview is over, be sure to send a thank you message to the person or people who interviewed you. They took time out of their day to meet with you, and you should show your gratitude for their time and interest. In your message, address the interviewer by name, mention any key points that were made during the interview, summarize again why you would be a good fit, and say thank you. Tell them you look forward to hearing them, and be sure to leave your contact information at the end. You can send this message through email or LinkedIn messenger. You should send your thank you within 24 hours of your interview appointment.
12. Most Importantly - Be Yourself!
This one might sound a bit cliche, but the whole point of an interview is for the interviewer to get an idea of who you are. Interviewers likely don’t really care about a time that you experienced a difficult situation and how you overcame it, they just want to get a feel for what type of person you truly are. Rehearsing your answers too much or memorizing answers you think the interviewer wants to hear will only make you look phony. The questions interviewers ask on your first interview will not be earth-shattering, and you need to be true to yourself and answer honestly and professionally. You obviously have something of interest to the company if you made it to an interview, and you just need to believe in yourself.
Interviews can be scary, but they don’t have to be! Stay positive, showcase your skills, and always thank those who are communicating with you throughout the process. Be professional, prepared, and genuine and hopefully you will land that dream job.