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Student Blog: Preparation for your Interview
Kyle Catarata – OWINN Special Projects Coordinator
Weeks of waiting after you’ve submitted your job application, you receive a notification inviting you to a job interview. What do you do now? A job interview is a supplement to your application and an introduction to who you are. At the interview, employers get to know who you are, what you want to achieve, and if you’re the best fit for the team.
To nail the job interview process it isn’t just about arriving on time and dressing professionally, it’s more than that. It takes time, practice, and dedication to perfect the best portrayal of yourself to the employer. In this blog I will discuss key elements and best practices that can help you succeed at your job interview and hopefully land the job.
Research about the Company
Seeing that you have landed an interview with a company you probably know little about, it is essential to learn more about them before heading to the interview.
Take time reading the history of the company, their vision, goals and how they align to your own interests. Doing so, you are indirectly engaging yourself with the company and simultaneously, you’re able to gain an understanding of what you wish to accomplish with the company.
Though you may not know what all of the job responsibilities entail, review your desired role in relation to the company. What is the main focus of the position and how will it benefit the company’s team as a whole? Understanding the role like the back of your hand gives you a sense of certain skills, talents, and unique character traits that are required for the position and will help you to determine whether you have these qualities, or even skills you’d like to develop.
Reviewing questions tailored toward your specific job position is a great way to prepare yourself for the actual interview. Questions could range from a general stance like, “tell me more about yourself,” to specific questions like, “describe a time where you faced adversity and steps you took to overcome it.”
Common Interview questions would include:
- Tell me more about yourself.
- How did you hear about the company?
- What do you know about the company?
- Why do you want to work with us?
- Describe your strengths and/or weaknesses.
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
Questions for the Interviewer
Often times at the end of an interview, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions for them or the company. This is a great segue to demonstrate your interest toward them. Prepare a few questions you have about the company that is not covered on their website and bring it to your upcoming interview. Albeit it is not required to ask questions at the end, it will give you a leg up in that you invested time in perusing through their website and showing curiosity toward the company.
Practice speaking in front of a mirror or a family member
Once you have all your interview questions set, begin practicing by answering them in front of a mirror. Doing so you’ll be able to visualize your mannerisms and how you speak. Are you barely smiling? Are you not maintaining eye contact with yourself? Are you fidgeting a lot? By visualizing how you act while you speak can greatly help to improve your interview skills.
After you practice in front of the mirror, find a family member that has time and have them ask you the interview questions. Feel free to even let your family member make up some questions on the spot that you did not prepare prior to test your skills!
Dress for Success
Dressing appropriately for your interview is not only a sign of professionalism but illustrates who you are and what you stand for. Most employers do not list what you should wear to the interview, but always assume if it is an interview, it will always be business professional.
Attached below are recommended business professional attires for both women and men.
Professional Attire- Women
- “Solid color, conservative suit with a coordinated blouse, moderate shoes, tan or light pantyhose, limited jewelry
- Neat, professional hairstyle, manicured nails, light makeup, little or no perfume”
Professional Attire- Men
- “Solid color, conservative suit, long sleeve shirt, conservative tie, dark socks, professional shoes
- Neat hairstyle, trimmed nails, little or no cologne or aftershave”
So before you leave your house, make sure you dress professionally to get the best first impression from your interviewer. Dress for success!
Prepare any items needed for the interview
Though you’ve probably submitted your application with your resume and/or cover letter, it doesn’t hurt to bring one of each to the interview. Just in case the interviewer forgets their copy!
You may bring a briefcase or shoulder bag to keep any other additional documents you may want to carry with you. Additionally, bring a pen and notepad if there is ever a time during the interview when you want to jot down notes.
Arrive on time
Whether your interview is in the morning or later on in the day, always arrive before your scheduled interview time. Preferably, arriving 15-30 minutes before your interview time is beneficial in case you get lost finding the location.
If you are driving or taking the public transit, allot time for traffic as it may delay your time of arrival. Thus, planning ahead and calculating how far the location is from your house is essential in getting there on time.
Once you leave your interview, feel free to follow up and thank your interviewer no later than 24 hours after the interview took place. Not only will this give you a good word to the employer, but the interviewer will recall your name and who you were after the interview as you simply followed up with them!
You never know! You may have been another application number in the stacks of interviews they've held, so a simple gratitude wouldn’t hurt as it will likely make you stand out from the rest of applicants!
In the end, the interview is paramount to whether you’ll gain employment. It will give your employers a sense of who you are, what you can do, and if you are the best fit for the company.
If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to contact OWINN and we’ll be happy to assist you with your endeavors in getting employment!