College is a land of opportunity, and what's a better opportunity than getting an internship or job? But before you can get there, you must go through the interview process, which can be daunting to some people. To make your interview go smoother, here is what you should have prepared before heading into your interview.
1. Bring an extra copy of your resume to the interview.
Most students tend to forget this, especially if they submitted an online application with their resume attached. Bringing an extra copy of your resume to your interview isn't being extra. It's for back-up in case your interviewer needs to reference or ask any follow up questions regarding your resume. Another pro-tip regarding resumes that I picked up from my communications professor is that you should print out your resume on thicker, nicer paper than standard printing paper. This is extremely important if you're submitting a paper application with a hard copy of your resume. Think about it — the person reviewing applications must have a stack of resumes on their desk ready for review. A nice, thicker, glossy or matte resume in a pile of papers will surely make your resume stand out from the rest.
2. Pick out an outfit the night before.
You don't want to be stressed out on the day of your interview. You don't want to wake up in the morning and get dressed only to find out that your blazer has a hole in it or that your dress pants don't fit you anymore. Use your time the night before your big day to put together a professional outfit that is presentable and (more importantly) comfortable.
3. Think of three interesting stories to tell.
A common thing interviewers might ask you is to recall an experience you had, whether it be a time when you resolved a conflict or something along the lines of what you learned during your past jobs. To avoid blanking out when asked this, think about some past experiences that you'd like to share if a relevant question gets asked.
4. Be aware of your eye contact, body posture and smile.
This is pretty much common sense, but can also be easily forgotten if you're nervous during an interview. Remember to make eye contact with the interviewer when speaking and listening to them. In the back of your mind, be aware of your body posture and body movements. Don't slouch and don't play with your hands. Lastly, through any nervousness you might have, just take some deep breaths and remember to smile!
5. Practice introducing yourself.
Most interviewers tend to start off with the question "Can you tell me a bit about yourself?" While this question sounds plain and simple, it can actually be pretty tough to answer. Where do you start? What should you mention about yourself? What does the interviewer want to know? Think about what personal qualities you want to highlight and then think about how you want to present them. For example, if you're interviewing for an internship at your college, it would make sense to state your name, major, year in college, why you're interested in the field you're applying to and why you want the internship. If you're applying for a job at a company, you might state your name, the college you go to, what past experience you have and what you can offer to the company.
6. Practice interview questions.
You shouldn't go into an interview blind. Look up some common interview questions and think about how you want to answer them. This practice is going to help you feel more confident during the actual interview and help you speak more smoothly since you've practiced what you want to say.
7. Research the company or organization beforehand.
If you're applying for an internship or a job at a certain company or organization, the interviewer is going to expect that you know what their purpose and goals are to see if you're a good fit. I suggest going on their website and reading about what their purpose is. Stalk them on their social media to learn more about what they're currently working on and what they've done in the past. This not only helps you find out more about what you're applying for but it also shows you've done your fair share of research when the interviewer references their company.
If you want brownie points, then research your interviewer if you know his/her name. Try looking on the company's site to see if there's a page with their staff and a short blurb about them. Try searching for any social media accounts they might have. This probably sounds slightly creepy, but this will let you know more about them, their position in the company and will prepare you to meet them in person.
8. Remember to ask questions.
From all the advice I got when I was preparing for my internship interview, if there was one thing I took away, it would be to ask questions. Usually, at the end of an interview, the interviewer will finish off by asking if you have any questions for them. Your answer should be yes. This shows you're really interested in the position and being a part of their company. Ask the interviewer things like, "Can you tell me what a typical day in this position is like?" or "Can you describe this company's work culture?" Any questions that show your interest in working for the company or organization is great to put out there.
9. Don't forget to follow up.
After you leave the interview, don't just go home and wait for the results. Within an acceptable time frame (usually 24 hours), write a thank you email to your interviewer thanking them for the opportunity to speak with them. This is also a great time to once again express your interest in potentially working with them and the company or organization. Some people suggest writing thank you emails because they're more timely; others suggest sending handwritten thank you cards in the mail because they're more personal. My suggestion is that you should choose the communication method that you find most fitting, based on the company and your talk with the interviewer.
10. Get enough sleep.
You should get enough sleep nevertheless, but we are college students after all. The night before your interview, make sure to get enough rest so you show up ready to snatch that position.
In the end, an interview is a two-way street and the interviewer is just as lucky to have you working with them as you are to have the chance to work for them. So remember to just be yourself, walk into the room with your head up high, resume in hand and go ace that interview!
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