The Job Interview – Tips for Success
1. Preparation and Practice are Key
Preparation: Research thoroughly the job and the company for which you are interviewing.
- Research the company online. Gain some insider knowledge by talking with friends, faculty, or staff who may know about the company. Show your knowledge of the company to the hiring manager. Have a grasp on the variety of questions that you might be asked.
- Spend some time before the interview generating some academic, work, or leadership/co-curricular examples that showcase your abilities to contribute to the position in a multitude of ways. When asked a question, you want to be able to pull from your personal collection of transferable experiences.
Practice: Take part in a mock interview. Utilize your campus career office to conduct a mock interview for your specific job. Not only can you practice, but you can also get feedback in real-time, which will benefit your “real” interview.
- Extend beyond your comfort zone and practice interviewing while dressed in interview attire if possible. Practice your elevator pitch and answers to possible questions often - while walking to class, running on the treadmill, or taking the elevator in your residence hall.
- Interview questions should be answered in a way that is both comprehensive and concise. You want to showcase your transferable skills by adding an example without going on and on (and on and on.) Practice, practice, practice!
2. First Impressions Matter
Your credentials are the reason you have the interview in the first place. Yes, you definitely need to continue to sell yourself and what you would bring to the job, but know that first impressions matter. Many employers / hiring managers make up their mind as to whether or not you would be a good fit within the position during the first few minutes of the interview. Everything beyond that is just selling yourself that you would not only be a good fit, but the best fit for the position.
So, knowing that first impressions matter, here are some tips:
- Dress for success. Error on the side of more professional over trendy. If your mom would question what you are wearing, there is a good chance you shouldn’t wear it.
- Do not come empty handed. Buy or borrow a Padfolio. Bring a pad of paper, pens, and some peppermints. You will want to bring extra copies of your resume and have a place to put materials they may give you. In addition, show your professionalism and interest by having a place to jot notes. Use the pens to also write down the names of the people you meet with so you can send a follow-up thank you note. Enjoying a peppermint candy (a natural stimulant) before you start will not only provide fresh breath, but also give you some added energy.
- Multi-Task your introduction. In addition to a nice firm handshake (not too tight, nor not too limp), make sure you stand up, look the interviewer(s) directly in the eye, smile, and say something welcoming. “It is really nice to meet you, I am excited for this opportunity” while shaking hands and smiling gives off a good first impression that you are friendly, welcoming, enthusiastic for the position, and professional. As a bonus, insert their name into the introduction (i.e., It is really nice to meet you Sally, thank you for this opportunity.)
3. Market Yourself
Assuming you have made a good first impression, now is the time to sell your value and your passion.
Your value: What would you bring to the job?
- This is your chance to give your elevator pitch. Talk about your education, your experience, why you want this job, and what you would bring to it.
- Market yourself and the value that you would add to the position. Do not just restate what they can see on your resume; provide real examples that showcase qualities employers look for: interpersonal and effective communication skills, proven leadership, initiative and motivation, an ability to work with others, work ethic and dedication, and contributing to a team, for example.
- Go beyond talking about what you have done in college, and talk about what you will do in the job and the value you will add. Be confident but not conceited and show why they should hire you, without putting others down.
Your passion: Be passionate. Most candidates know they should show their passion for the job for which they are interviewing.
- Demonstrate your passion for your major, your college, and your co-curricular experiences (i.e. study abroad, past internship, student organization involvement). Talk about why you loved doing what you did where you did. This also will demonstrate to the hiring manager that you make good decisions and believe in yourself and what you put your mind to.
- Go one step further and link this passion to what you could bring to the job. For example, maybe you are a religion major applying for a position at a big company - talk about your passion for learning about significant differences in beliefs, and then the opportunities you had to engage in civil discourse with others, and how this passion will help you work with co-workers and with clients engaging across difference. Candidates who are positive, enthusiastic, and passionate are more likely to get hired.