Congratulations on making it to the interview stage! The steps below will help you prepare, so you can confidently convince any interviewer that you are the right person for the position.
Before the interview:
- Schedule a mock interview: The Office of Career Development offers mock interviews throughout the school year for students applying to internships, part-time and full-time jobs. This is a great, low pressure way to experience an interview for the first time and brush up on your presentation skills. Be sure to schedule this at least one week prior to your actual job interview so that you have plenty of time to digest the information learned in the mock interview and make adjustments. Keep a lookout for employers coming to campus to offer these, or contact the Director of Career Development to set up a customized interview.
- Know Yourself: Be prepared to share stories of your past experiences (from professional experience, part-time work, internships, campus involvement, or volunteering) and be sure you can relate what you learned in those past experiences to the job you are applying for. Know your strengths and be able to translate your weaknesses to accomplishments and triumphs.
- Know the Company: With the amount of information online, there is no excuse not to have a good understanding of the company in which you are applying. Research items like the company's mission statement, how long has the company been around, what are its primary target markets, what are its main products or services, how many employees does it have, and who are its competitors. Knowing this basic information ahead of time will make it much easier to focus on presenting yourself during the interview. It will also help for you to have questions readily available in the next step.
During the interview:
- Don't Be Late: Be sure to arrive 10-15 minutes early and know where you are going. It is always better to get there having plenty of time to spare since this is another vital component of your first impression. Make sure you plan for traffic in certain cities too. If you arrive more than 20 minutes early, grab a cup of coffee and relax before the interview. The employers have busy schedules too and you may catch them off guard by arriving too early.
- Dress Professionally: Dress for the position you eventually want. You may find out later that a company has a more relaxed dress code, but you never want to arrive to an interview under-dressed. (Be sure to check out the professional dress info below.)
- Proper Body Language: A lot can be told (or assumed) about a person based on their body language. You may be nervous going in, but it is important to display a composed and confident demeanor. Make eye contact, nod your head, speak clearly, and display good posture. All of these can show an employer that you are interested, attentive, and confident.
- Listen and Ask Questions: You should be prepared to ask 4-7 questions at the end of an interview. Even though you may not be able to ask them all, there is a chance that some of your questions may be answered during the interview so it is always good to have back-ups. Questions about the work environment, professional development, management styles, or challenges/strengths of the company can really show your interest and also help you decide if this is the right fit for you.
After the interview:
- Follow-up: A hand written thank you letter or thank you note can go a long way. Be sure this is done within 48 hours of the interview.
- Keep Your Options Open: It is great to shoot for your dream job or company, but keep in mind that both you and the employer are looking for a perfect fit. Don't let a bad interview bring down your confidence. Treat it as a learning and preparation experience for the next one.
The collegiate apparel of hoodies, gym shorts, and flip-flops is completely fine for hanging out with your friends. However, it is very unacceptable when entering the workplace or attending professional networking events. According to CareerBuilder.com research data, over 50% of hiring managers have stated inappropriate dress is the top mistake an interviewee can make. Take a look at the tips below to help you prepare for your next career fair, interview, or internship. Dress for the position that you one day aspire to have. Most places of employment have a dress code policy or guideline. Be sure you find out what those are so that you don't find yourself in an awkward situation. Workplaces can be made up of a very diverse set of employees, and you do not want to end up offending someone. Keep in mind that you want others to notice your work quality and professionalism. When going for a professional full-time or internship interview:
- Wear a well-fitting, dark colored suit (blue, black, grey, or brown). You are trying to sell yourself and want to look your best. Also be sure that your clothing is comfortably fitting so that your confidence will shine through.
- Wear your hair in a neat and clean style. Men: be sure to be clean-shaven or have a neatly trimmed beard
- Wear polished dress shoes (men) or professional looking low heels/flats (women)
- Women - you never know how much walking/touring of a facility that you may end up doing during an interview so you do not want to wear tall heels
- Make sure you fingernails are short and professional
- Conceal tattoos and body piercings
- Wear dark socks that coordinate with your suit
- Carry a small, professional-looking portfolio/padfolio/briefcase to keep your resume in and to take notes
- Wear small, simple jewelry and watches
- Wear bright, flashy clothing or accessories/jewelry
- Wear strong perfume or cologne
- Wear anything tight-fitting, low-cut, or too short. Always keep a "classic" look in mind
- Wear an overly trendy or extreme hair style
- Carry a backpack to your interview
- Wear heavy make-up or overly long, brightly-colored fingernails
- Wear casual loafers, sandals, flip flops, or sneakers
- Wear anything that is wrinkled, has stains, or is torn
- Wear white socks or socks that are too short
- Have tattoos or body piercings blatantly visible
Working within your budget:
Looking your best in an interview doesn't mean that you have to spend a ton. Employers know that college students and recent graduates don't have a large budget to work with, but it is still extremely important that you look professional.
Explore stores that have lower price clothing such as T.J. Maxx, Marshall's or Belk. When selecting clothes, try to stick to some staple items in neutral colors that will be easy to mix and match. If you want to avoid the dry cleaning expense, purchase clothes that are easy to clean and iron on your own. If you're in a tight bind before an interview, see if you can borrow a suit from a friend or family member. By the time you graduate though, you should have a nice professional suit of your own.