Think of an interview like an audition - your appearance and performance are critical if you want to land the part. Your potential employer not only wants to know how your education and experience will benefit them, they want to ensure you're a good "fit" with their corporate culture. To make a great impression, the real you has to shine through. So don't try to be something you're not - just focus on putting your best foot forward.
Research the part
The key is to go into the interview prepared. Have a solid understanding of the company and the position.
- Look at the company's website and annual report, paying special attention to the language used in the vision, mission and goals. Begin to consider how your experiences and attitude reflect these attributes, and be ready to incorporate these thoughts into your interview answers.
- Search the Internet for any news about the company. Finding out about recent developments, such as new product launches or corporate expansions, could help you get the inside track on some great answers.
- To get started, read the job description carefully to see what type of experience and skills the position requires.
- Then, isolate five or six of the skills listed and match each one with a story that shows you have that attribute. Reference your schoolwork, summer jobs, extra-curricular activities and volunteer experience.
- If you are armed with these examples, you can handle just about anything the interviewer throws at you.
- Find out the dress code. Even if your interview falls on a "casual Friday", dress conservatively and professionally - aim for one level above the company standard.
- Be sure to bring copies of your resumé for each of your interviewers and a list of your references. Your interviewers may not need these, but being proactive will show how organized you are.
- Don't forget to bring a note pad and pen to record any information the interviewer may give you, as well as their contact information at the end of the interview.
- Remember, you have a few seconds to make a really good first impression with your interviewer.
- Stand tall, shake hands firmly, smile, make eye contact and speak with confidence. When the questions start, take your time answering them - it's not a race.
- Being prepared with answers shows your interest and enthusiasm, while being prepared with questions demonstrates your knowledge and foresight.
- Prepare questions to ask the interviewer. Use these to demonstrate your knowledge of the company and its products and services. Ask specifically about how these things relate directly to the position.
Surprisingly, only about 1 in 10 people follow up after an interview. If you want to make a lasting impression, here's your chance.
- After the interview, summarize the questions and answers all around. If there's something you want to clarify or expand on, make note of it. Consider calling, e-mailing, or sending a handwritten note to your interviewer.
- Thank them for their time, include any additional comments and indicate that you look forward to your next meeting. Send it that day.
Keep on trying
Even the best actors don't land every part, so it's OK if you don't walk out of each interview with a job offer. There will always be a next time.
Stay true to yourself, keep plugging away and you'll be playing a starring role in your own career before you know it.