Interviews are nerve wracking at best. You’re in the hot seat, and you know if you don’t meet a potential employer’s expectations, you won’t get the job. Well, relax; it isn’t all that bad. Sure, you are in the hot seat, but even the most jaded hiring manager has, at one point or another, been in your shoes. Prepare for your interview ahead of time and you’ll do fine.
So, what should you do to prepare?
First, research the company. More and more often, interviewers are testing candidate’s knowledge of their company by asking questions that test whether or not you know what you’re applying for.
Most companies now have a website. Visit it before your interview. Learn as much as you can about the company itself: what it does, what it considers important, what it values in its employees, its corporate culture, etc. Hiring managers love job candidates who do their homework.
Second, know where you’re going and be there on time. A few days before your interview, make a dry run. Travel to the interview location at the same time you’ll need to be there on the day of your interview. This way, you can gauge traffic and parking; conditions that, if not accounted for, may make you late for your appointment. Plan on being at your interview at least 10 minutes before you are scheduled.
Third, dress professionally. Even if you are applying for a job at McDonald’s, you should be dressed for success. Although a suit may not be necessary for a McD’s interview, a clean, button-down shirt and a nice pair of khaki’s are. Never wear jeans, shorts, or any item of clothing that is too tight, too short, or that shows too much skin. If you are applying for a professional position, wear a suit (skirt or pants) with a jacket.
And, don’t arrive for your interview empty handed. Take at least two extra copies of your resume. You will often be asked to meet with more than one member of the hiring team and each individual will need to refer to a copy of your resume. Bring a list of professional references and any other documentation you feel is appropriate. But, don’t just hand over a literal book. Don’t hand over references and documentation unless asked. The first interview is just a getting-to-know-you process. Many companies will bring you back for a second interview if you make the cut. Be prepared to provide one. And, have a nice-looking pad of paper on hand to take notes. Don’t forget your pen!
The Follow Up
After your interview, make sure that you shake hands with your interviewer(s) and thank them for their time. It is ok to ask when they may be finalizing their decision, but don’t nag. When you get home, or the next day, send a thank you note to the interviewer telling her how you appreciate her time and how much you are interested in the position. Again, don’t nag. A quick thank you note may set you apart from other applicants, but constantly calling to inquire about the position will just make you look desperate.
The Rejection Letter
Any professional organization will not keep you waiting for months, wondering if you got the job. Most will either call or send you a formal letter offering the position, or send you the dreaded rejection letter. Don’t take this to heart. You will be competing against a lot of very qualified individuals for any given position and there is often no rhyme or reason for why employers hire who they do. Just keep plugging away and you’ll soon snag a position that you love.
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