Assuming you’ve taken my advice from my previous article about resumes, you visited the career development center, brushed up your networking, and have been applying for jobs left and right. Then comes that blessed day: your email pings, reminiscent of church bells ringing. A lovely soul in HR or a recruiter has finally contacted you about setting up an interview. You’ve wowed them with your resume and cover letter, now they would like to meet in person.
I know it might come as shocking, considering how eloquently and effortlessly my writing flows together on these brilliant Edge articles, but I am not good at speaking in public, like, to actual important people. I am especially not good at trying to convince Very Important People that I am wonderful and a joy to work with and should be hired ASAP without sounding narcissistic.
Seeing as how I registered for a job fair and still get the nervous blotches when speaking on the phone ordering Chinese food, I decided it would be wise to contact good ol’ Tim Wince (wince001) at the Career Development Center for some interview advice. Of course, I’m forwarding you all of the information!
1.Practice, practice, practice
We live in an age where we have access to information right at our fingertips! Research common interview questions (like the dreaded “Tell me about yourself” or “Where do you see yourself in five years?”). Formulate some intelligent responses and run them by your friends, family, pets. The more practice the better! Bonus points: You can also schedule a mock interview at the Career Exploration and Development Center. Career counselors can give you a whole list of questions and help you form the best responses!
2. Suit up!
There’s the old saying “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.” The same idea applies for an interview. You should generally treat the interview as an opportunity to really show your best self. Dress nicer than you think you should. Ladies, pull out the Hillary Clinton pantsuit. If you are questioning whether something is too short or low cut, then you probably shouldn’t wear it. Guys, wear a nice suit with an (ironed!) button-down shirt underneath. It’s also important to pay attention to your shoes! Make sure they’re comfortable, yet professional. Also, clean off any dirt or scuff marks prior to your interview! Another tiny detail that will make you feel like a million bucks, is your hands–you’ll be shaking hands with your future boss! Make sure your hands aren’t scaly and your nails are trimmed. Nail biters, try to withhold from nibbling at your nails at least a week before an interview! If you choose to polish your nails, don’t opt for the cool holographic nail art–understated colors are best. To sum it up, if you have any questions about your outfit, you can ask one of the counselors at the career center their thoughts on your ensemble or snap a pic of it to your mom. They’ll always know what to do.
3. Body Language
Ursula the Sea Witch was right. “Don’t underestimate the power of body language.” As soon as you step foot in the building for your interview, everything you do should exude confidence. This includes how you carry yourself. Sit up straight and attentive in your chair, make eye contact with your interviewer. Avoid fidgety motions and “talking with your hands.” Try not to play with any jewelry or pick at your nails. Breathe. This is just a conversation with another person, right? They’ll understand that this is a nerve-wracking time, but you should try to feign confidence until you make it!
4. Use your youth to your advantage!
Being fresh out of school and on the cusp of entering the workforce is the best! Hear me out on this one. You just completed your education where you received the most current knowledge on your field. You have all these ideas and enthusiasm bubbling around in your head. You offer a fresh, new perspective to a corporation. So let that enthusiasm shine through during your interview! Talk about your love for your field work, discuss your future plans, say how excited you would be to start your career at this institution. Generally, people see new grads as inexperienced or naive. I personally believe it’s time to challenge that stereotype. Use your inexperience as an advantage and soak up as much information as you can! Experience can be built over time, a genuine love for your field of work cannot!
5. Follow up with a thank you
People underestimate the value of a simple thank you note. As soon as you get home from your interview, jot a quick email to your interviewer expressing your gratitude for their time and consideration. This is a Super Adult Move. As a general rule of thumb, any instance where someone takes time out of their day to help you, you should send a thank you note. Soon, you’ll level up to a Mega Adult, get excited over stationary packages at Target and look forward to writing thank you notes. Even if you don’t land the job, you’ll feel a warm fuzzy knowing you did the mature thing and expressed gratitude.
I’m no interview guru, but I can say that meeting with Tim Wince and completing a mock interview at the Career Exploration and Development Center made me feel 100% more prepared for that fateful day. Good luck, my friends. You got this!