Make an Impression: Tips for Your Next Interview

Congratulations! You have made it past the resume review and have been selected for an interview. Now what?

The interview is one of the most important elements in the job search process. Interviewing for a position that you really are passionate about can be quite nerve-racking. Think of an interview as a highly focused professional conversation. This article will hopefully help you evaluate if a position is the right fit for you and for the company.

Dress for Success and Make a Good First Impression

Dress for success. Clothing is a very personal preference, and I believe you should wear something that makes you feel like yourself and that will make you feel comfortable during the interview. With that being said, while a suit is the standard interview attire in a business environment, it might not always be appropriate. I suggest wearing one if you think the interview will take place in an informal environment- you can even call before and ask! Regardless, you can never be overdressed if you are wearing a tailored suit.

Arrive ten minutes early to the interview- no more, no less. Many job-seekers don’t realize that showing up too early often creates a poor first impression. Arriving more than ten minutes early for an interview can place pressure on the employer to quickly finish what he or she is working on so they are not keeping you waiting.

Shake hands firmly. The three-second handshake that starts the interview is your first opportunity to create a great impression.

Smile, smile, smile!   Smiling sends a signal that you are open and approachable.

Interviewing Tips

Research the company. It is to your advantage to carefully research the job and the organization. There are many ways to do this. You can request printed materials from the employer, such as annual reports and job descriptions. This is an entirely appropriate request, so don’t hesitate to make it. Ask colleagues, friends, and faculty about the organization, and about any personal contacts at the organization they might have. Look at the organization’s website. Knowing about the job will help you prepare your qualifications so that you can show why you are the best candidate!

“Practice makes perfect.” Practice answering questions with a friend, or in front of a mirror. Ask your friend to give you constructive criticism on your speaking style, mannerisms, and poise. As you practice, avoid using transition words, such as “like” and “um.”

Know yourself. An interview gives the employer a chance to get to know you. The best preparation is to know yourself well enough to be able to concretely describe yourself. Come up with five to seven skills or qualities that you possess that you would use to describe yourself. You may be asked, ‘‘What three words would you use to describe yourself.’’ If you are prepared, you have a set of five to choose.

Be Alert and Listen. Stay in the moment and listen closely to questions. Make sure you are actually answering the question that was asked. If you did not hear the question clearly, it is appropriate to ask the interviewer to restate the question.

Follow-up after the interview. You should write a thank you note within 48 hours after an interview, even if the interview (or the interviewer) was not productive and/or you are not interested in the position. 

Interview Outtakes – Also known as things to avoid

“Someone once blew her nose and lined up the used tissues on the table in front of her.”

“Someone hugged me at the end of the interview.”

“Someone answered their cell phone during the interview and had a conversation with her mother.”

“Someone kept giggling through a serious interview.”

“Candidate said he really didn’t want to get a job, but the unemployment office needed proof that he was looking for one.”