Interviewing can be stressful, exciting, and overwhelming. However, preparing ahead of time will make all the difference when the moment comes that an employer calls you for that interview. Interviewing is a skill, and therefore, takes practice. There is no such thing as winging it! Employers will be able to tell the difference. Research shows that within the first four to nine minutes of an interview, recruiters decide whether or not they will seriously consider you for the position. Below are a few pointers to help you create a positive first impression.
Dress for your Industry
Your appearance is an important factor in creating a first impression. You need to research the company and industry to know what attire is appropriate. Many work environments are still business professional, which means suit attire, for both men and women. Dark suits are preferred. However, it can be confusing to decide what to wear with many industries adopting a casual environment. If in doubt contact the Center for Student Professional Development for advice.
Word of Caution
Should you be invited to dress in business casual attire, keep in mind that first impressions last a lifetime, and subconsciously, you are often judged by them. Therefore, be sure to maintain a neat appearance at all times including attention to your nails, hair, facial hair, use of strong perfume/cologne. Casual dress style depends largely on the industry, so if in doubt, ask about the dress policy before the interview.
What to Bring
A briefcase or leather portfolio is a recommended accessory that will communicate a professional image. Women should only bring a small handbag along with their portfolio. Stay away from big bulky bags or backpacks. Less is more. You do not want to have to fidget through bags to retrieve your resumes, pens, etc...
Bring multiple copies of your resume and familiarize yourself with everything on it. Remember that the interviewer can ask you about anything on your resume, so be sure to provide honest information about yourself at all times.
If you are interviewing for a design or teaching opportunity you may need to bring your portfolio and be ready to talk about it.
It is wise to have a reference page with you with three professional references listed with their name, relationship to you, title, and contact information. Always be sure to get permission from your references before using them.
Be sure to arrive at least 10 minutes early. Sometimes you are required to fill out forms before the interview, so arriving early can be to your benefit. Additionally, this gives the interviewer an indication of your possible future behavior. In the event of an emergency, notify the employer within 24 hours of the scheduled interview, if you need to cancel the appointment. It is always wise to bring the phone number of the interviewer with you in the event of traffic or delays.
Preparation cuts down on your amount of uncertainty and will boost your confidence. Therefore, before the interview, make sure that you have researched the company using the company's web site, the career library, newspapers and research tools. Another way to obtain information on the company is through its annual reports or other company booklets. Use this information to formulate questions that will show the recruiter that you are up-to-date and interested in the organization.
Be confident, and show enthusiasm and interest for the position. Give a firm handshake at the beginning and end of the interview. Be sure to maintain eye contact with all the interviewers, not just the person who asks the question. Sit up straight, but be relaxed with your arms and hands above the table. If you are not seated at a table, place your hands on your portfolio in front of you. Do not place anything on the interviewer's desk unless given permission to do so. Try not to fidget, and keep your hands away form your face and hair. Do not chew gum or smoke!
Most importantly, the interviewer wants to know that you can do the job. Therefore, being able to market yourself is the key to a successful interview. Present organized answers with specific examples to support them. Be clear and concise and always concentrate on your qualifications. Focus on the positive at all times and avoid using slang or jargon. Be sure to listen carefully and answer the question that is being asked. Do not be afraid to pause and ask for time to better reflect on the question. If you are not sure of what the interviewer is asking, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for clarification. Finally, be honest and assertive - let the interviewer know you are the right person for the job!