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Make the Most of Your Interview

Interview Date Marked on a Calendar

The job interview is a critical step to getting offered an internship or a job. Your resume—the presentation of your education, skills, certifications and work experience—will get you in the door, but your personality, attitude and the employer’s perception of how you’ll fit in with the team and their corporate culture is what will land you the job. Here’s how to nail it!

  1. Do Your Homework Before the Interview. Even if you had already researched the company before you sent your resume, refresh your information about the company’s history, mission, management personnel, primary business operations and, if possible, the position for which you are interviewing.
  2. Dress for Success. Even if the position you are seeking calls for more casual attire, plan to wear a conservative suit and tie (blouse for women) that conveys confidence and professionalism. Avoid strong perfumes or aftershaves, do not smoke before the interview and do not chew gum before or during the interview.
  3. Be Prepared. Bring extra copies of your resume, reference letters, skills certifications and other documentation that reinforce your credentials for the position you want.
  4. Plan to Arrive Early. Arriving late is not acceptable. Plan your route to the company and the time involved to make the trip so that you arrive about 10 minutes early. If you are delayed unexpectedly, call the company to explain.
  5. First Impressions Do Make a Difference. Always greet company personnel with courtesy and respect. Shake hands firmly, use good posture, make eye contact with the interviewer, speak clearly and succinctly and turn off your cell phone before the interview begins.
  6. Sell Yourself. When asked about specific aspects of your work experience, education or skills, don’t be shy about your achievements. If possible, be sure to relate your experience to the company’s operations and demonstrate how you can contribute to its current and future success. Even if you’re not sure how you can contribute, express the willingness to contribute to the company’s goals.
  7. Ask Intelligent Questions. Show off your knowledge of the company and your interest by asking questions about growth prospects and interesting projects or programs.
  8. Avoid Negativity. Never speak negatively about former employers, supervisors or colleagues. Work experiences that do not turn out as planned are learning opportunities, not failures. Be prepared to explain how you grew professionally from an unsatisfying or unsuccessful work experience.
  9. Never Lie or Avoid Answering a Question. If your body language doesn’t give you away, the facts of the situation will. Anticipate the question in advance of the interview and be prepared with a truthful answer that can be documented in a reference check.
  10. Don’t “Jump the Gun.” Unless information is offered about compensation, benefits and vacation, wait until after the position is offered before asking those questions.

After the interview is concluded, send “thank you” notes to each person with whom you interviewed highlighting your relevant credentials for the position and what you think you can contribute. Request a business card from each interviewer to be sure of correct name spellings and titles.

And don’t forget to breathe and be yourself! Everyone had to start somewhere!

And even if that company doesn’t have a job that fits you right now, you’re starting your industry network and you just never know what might come from a positive meeting.