An interview is the one chance you get to make a great first impression. So, you want to be prepared and arrive approximately 10 minutes early! The interviewer will assume that you know something about his or her organization and the position for which you are interviewing, and will respond warmly to students who have "done their homework." Before your interview, identify and analyze your interests, strengths, skills and abilities, so that you can present yourself favorably. Questions, even probing ones, are welcomed if they show that you have read up on the company and have been thinking intelligently about how you might fit. Schedule a mock interview with a staff member in the Office of Career Service to get some tips.
Dress to Impress
A significant part of a hiring decision is based on nonverbal elements in an interview—handshake, eye contact, body language, posture, listening skills, clothing, grooming and accessories. Don’t overlook the power of a good first impression. People make amazing assumptions about your professional credibility and potential performance based upon your appearance during a first meeting. If you come to an interview dressed professionally, you will feel a sense of confidence and others will sense your self-assurance.
Men: Wear a suit, tie, leather shoes, dark socks and a matching belt.
Women: Wear a suit or nice pants with tailored blouse and a jacket, plain pumps, hose and little or no jewelry.
What is the Employer Looking For?
The selection criteria will vary according to the type of employing organization and the type of position for which you are applying. Personal qualities are every bit as important as academic preparation. Employers look for evidence that a candidate can perform the tasks of the initial or entry-level position and do they have important soft skills, such as interpersonal communication skills. Qualities employers evaluate during the interview include:
- Assessment of abilities and strengths
- Mature behavior and judgment
- Communication and teamwork skills
- Leadership potential
- Enthusiasm and confidence
- Patterns of accomplishment
- Problem solving and analytical ability
- Interest in and knowledge of career field
- Good work ethic
Before responding to a question, try to determine what information the interviewer really wants to know. Often times when a technical question is asked, the interviewer is more interested in your thought process than a "right" answer.
You should also be prepared to ask questions about the organization, so that you can make an intelligent decision about accepting a job offer (This is where that prior research of the organization and the field comes in handy!). The following are suggestions of questions that might be appropriate to ask:
- What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this position?
- Exactly what kind of background are you looking for?
- Do you have a formal training program? If so, how long is it and could you describe the type of training provided?
- How will my performance be evaluated, and how often?
- What would be a typical career pathway for an employee like myself entering your organization?
- What are your plans for expansion in terms of product lines, services, new branches, etc.?
- How is the present economic situation affecting your organization?
- What new products will be introduced in the near future as a result of research and development?
- How would you differentiate your company from your major competitors?
End It Gracefully
At the end of your interview, don’t linger. Ask if there is anything else the interviewer wants to know or anything he or she wants you to do, such as fill out an application or take any special tests. Make sure you reiterate your interest in the position, and if the interviewer doesn't indicate, ask when you may expect a decision. Thank the interviewer for his or her time, and be sure to note the interviewer's name and business address.
Thank You Card
Always remember to send a thank-you letter to every person who grants you time.