An interview is the one chance you get to make a great first impression. 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.
The Career Guide (PDF) contains a valuable section on interviewing in person and on the phone. There are cheat sheets available in the Career Center to give you tips for technical interviews and case interviews given in the consulting field. Schedule a mock interview with a staff member in the Office of Career Services to get some practice.
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
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.