Applying for a job or internship seems mundane. You send a nicely worded email, you submit your resume and cover letter, and then you wait. You have to go through the bittersweet feeling of checking your email every day hoping to hear back from a possible employer.
Then boom. It happens. You get called in for an interview, and then panic consumes you. Don’t worry though. You’ve made it this far and you’re going to make it all the way. Interviews can be very intimidating, but I'm going to give you a few tips on how to nail it.
For my current job, I had to fill out an intense application and make it through THREE rounds of interviews. The first was with a phone interview with a recruiter from the organization’s corporate office. The second was a phone interview with the hiring manager and the final was in person with the hiring manager and his team.
The organization flew me out for the final interview and people told me I already had the job since they paid for me to travel, but I didn’t want to assume that. A lot of organizations have money to fly candidates out for interviews. That shows their dedication to filling their role with the perfect candidate. I was not only shocked I made it that far, but I was also extremely nervous.
Over the course of those several months where I sold my abilities to the organization and landed the job, I learned that these things can put you above the competition and help you land your dream job.
1. LOCATION IS KEY
Make sure that the place you pick for the phone interview is quiet. A library isn’t ideal because you need to be able to speak clearly and concise. If you’re whispering it may affect the call. For those of you in college, try having the call in your dorm or apartment and just communicate to your roommates that you need that space to yourself at the designated time.
You should also sit somewhere that looks professional, whether that be a desk in your room or at your kitchen table. Regardless of location, the area needs to be well put together and organized. You may be the subject of the interview, but the interviewee is trying to get a sense for who you are and sloppiness won't help and will be distracting.
2. DRESS FOR SUCCESS EVEN ON THE PHONE
You should get up and put your Sunday best, even if the interview is just on the phone and not a FaceTime or Skype. The better you dress, the more confident you are in yourself. The confidence you have from your appearance will translate well through the call.
3. GRAB THOSE NOTES
The good thing about a phone interview is that you can have notes written out in front of you without the person knowing. You don't have to be nervous about having papers sprawled out with information.
PRO TIP: Write down the company/organization's history, code of conduct, mission statement and/or purpose so that you can add that information into your answers. For example, when you are asked why you want the position, you can say "I know that my goals align with the values of your organization." or "Your mission statement mentions your commitment to innovation and I align with that because ___________________."
4. WRITE IT DOWN
Don’t just sit idly while the interviewer is speaking about themselves. Write the information down and use it to your advantage later on in the call. You want to make sure the person sees that you are interested, listening and retaining information.
IN PERSON INTERVIEW
1. DRESS PROFESSIONAL
This may seem obvious, but for many people, it is not. Go for conservative colors like black, gray and blue, unless the position is in the field of the arts. If so, don’t be afraid to express your creativity with a pop of color. Your hair should be well groomed and make up minimal. Remember, this is their first impression of you so it should be intentional down the the pen. A simple notepad and pen will do the trick. Leave the sparkly notepad that says “Babygirl” or the old spiral notebook from your high school biology class at home. Show them that you are a professional in every sense of the word.
2. GET THERE EARLY
To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late and to be late is to be left. Your timeliness is one of the first impressions you'll leave. This will also give you a moment to sit and go over your notes, look at your resume again and calm your nerves.
PRO TIP: The interviewee may run a little late in the interview time. Be gracious and patient.
3. BRING EXTRA COPIES OF YOUR RESUME
If your resume has been updated since the time it was submitted, bring extra copies for the selection committee. It's always good to have additional copies in case the interviewee brings in other people. This will show that you are prepared at all times.
4. THANK YOU CARDS
A thank you card is the icing on the cake after a good interview. Come with them already written and present them to the interviewer after. If you're too nervous to give it to them, give it to their secretary or someone at the front desk.
1. SEND A FOLLOW UP EMAIL
If you don’t have the opportunity to give the person a physical card, send an email thanking them for their time and consideration.
2. BE CONFIDENT
Interviews can be scary, but it's an obstacle that you can and will conquer. If you made it to the interview then there’s something they like about you. You just have to let your skills and personality shine through the nerves. Try finding a secluded place and practicing some positive self-affirmations before heading into the interview.
3. BE YOURSELF
The interviewer wants to know that they are hiring a human being and not a robot. Let your qualities, passions, and interests show in the meeting. You do not need to engage in small talk like the weather or traffic, engage in real conversations with the selection committee and interviewer. If you’re hired, you’d be a member of your staff and it helps if they can hold a great conversation with you.
4. ALWAYS HAVE QUESTIONS
After the interview is over, you may feel overwhelmed with information and emotions and want to run out of the room as soon as possible. Make sure that you ask at least one question before scurrying out. Here are some good ones to try.
1. What does a typical day in this position look like?
2. The company values describes a dedication to _______________, how can I ensure that continues in this role?
3. What opportunities for growth does this position have?
Now that you have this information, go and be great! You are going to nail the interview and accomplish many great things!