Congrats! You were chosen for an interview. It’s quite the accomplishment to be picked out of hundreds of applicants based on a piece of paper. But now what? The imminent interview approaches and it can sometimes cause more stress than it should.
Because employers take interviews very seriously, you should too. This is your one chance to make the best impression–but talking about yourself and what you have accomplished isn’t always easy.
In my current position, I help manage the intern program at my company. This part of my job gives me the opportunity to be on the other side of the table and has made me realize what is important to cover in an interview. No matter what position you’re applying for, intern or managing level, these tips can help you prepare and give your best impression during an interview.
Practice makes perfect
The more interviews you participate in, the more you learn from your experiences. If you aren’t involved in many interviews or have never been in one, I would suggest doing mock interviews. While I was in college, I met with the career counselor to go over my resume and practice answering questions that could potentially come up in interviews. Because I knew this was a practice interview, the pressure was not as intense and I could clear my mind to think about the answers I wanted to say. It seems crazy just practicing interviews or maybe even embarrassing, but in the end, you will benefit from practicing talking about yourself and your resume.
Know your resume
If you are like me, you feel like resumes are one of the most simple yet frustrating documents you will ever create. Constantly needing updates and formatting, your resume is ever-changing. It is crucial to keep your resume updated throughout your career because it needs to reflect your most recent experiences.
If you have an interview, bring printed versions of your resume on resume paper. In my opinion, bringing your resume printed on quality paper and providing enough to give to everyone a copy shows that you are prepared and organized.
However, it isn’t enough to just have your resume updated and printed for your interview–you must know what is on it. This seems obvious, but as you update it and write descriptions of your experiences, you must be able to recite it without looking at your resume. Nobody knows what you have accomplished better than yourself. Don’t let your nerves get the best of you and make you forget all of your accomplishments!
Do your research
There is one pet peeve that interviewers dislike more than anything, and that is asking questions you can find out on their website. For example, I interviewed someone recently and they asked me what types of clients we serve. That is something you need to know going into a job interview. If you don’t know what type of work you are getting into, how can you tell an interviewer why you want to work for them? It just doesn’t look good on your part to come unprepared in any way.
Here are a few things I suggest looking at prior to the interview:
- Company website: Click around on the website to see who they are and how they portray themselves.
- Social media profiles: Look at all of the usual profiles–LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.
- Offerings: What does the company offer to clients and what departments do they have.
- Customers/clients: Research what their client names are and what those clients do. If there are any case studies, look over a few to get a better picture on what the company has accomplished for their clients.
- Employees: Is there anyone on LinkedIn that you know who works at the company? It’s always helpful to have some type of connection to someone who currently works at the company. If you don’t have any connections, look at your interviewer’s LinkedIn to see if you have anything in common to bring up in the interview–these are good icebreakers.
Prepare questions in advance
If there is one lesson I have learned from practicing in school and doing multiple interviews after graduating, it’s to bring questions to your interview. Even if your interview is thorough enough to where you have a good idea of what the position holds and who they are as a company, always have some backup questions. Interviewers want to answer questions because it shows them your level of interest and could lead to a greater and longer conversation. These don’t have to be serious business questions either–lighten the mood with some fun questions about the interviewers!
Don’t be afraid to show your personality
No matter what you have on your resume, one of the most important parts of your interview is the culture check. They want to determine if you will mesh well with the people who currently work there. Show your personality without straying too far from professionalism. Whenever I am in an interview, I try to make them laugh or at least smile at what I have to say. As I mentioned earlier, find common ground because it eases the level of tension when you can relate to the person on the other side of the table.
Not only will potential employers be looking for a right fit with the other employees, you should also look to see if you would fit. Remember that you are there to interview them as well (another reason to have questions prepared). Make sure you can see yourself working there and with the people you have met during that interview.
No relevant experience? Make your experiences relevant
The HARDEST thing to do after graduating is gaining experience. I am the biggest example of this. After graduating, I applied everywhere I could and had a really hard time finding a job. For two years after graduating I was waiting tables and still applying places. After a certain amount of time, I had to sit down and really think about what I wanted to pursue. My resume was short, with small experiences semi-relevant to what I was applying for. I had to make each job I had relevant in some way to the position I was applying for. Always adjust your resume to the job you are applying for and be able to talk about how it relates in your interview. Even if you have nothing on your resume and you get the chance to interview, be ready to tie back all of your experiences to the position.
Dress to impress
I only have one thing to say about this: No spaghetti straps or short skirts/dresses. This isn’t the time to show some skin, okay? If you are unsure of what to wear, take a look at the company culture and determine their dress code from what you find. Are they corporate or financial? Keep it professional with a nice suit set. Maybe they are an agency or are a bit more casual. Wear a nice blouse and some fun pants. Having a hard time determining the dress code? Play it safe with a professional black dress and a sweater.
Follow up right away
After you have impressed the interviewer with your resume, conversation, and shining personality, follow up! Don’t be afraid to reach out. This shows you really want the job and they need you! I always made it a point to follow up with a thank you later that day or the next morning. The more they see your name the more they will remember you.
Now put on your power suit or dress, radiate confidence, and crush your interview!