Before leaving college it is imperative that you know how to interview to put your best foot forward.
Below are some quick tips that will teach you how to prepare for your interview and knock it out of the park.
Types of Interviews
When preparing for an interview, it is first important to determine what kind of interview it will be. Each format has its own unique set of preparations, so make sure you are ready for each format.
Phone interviews are usually conducted by hiring managers to screen multiple applicants. These interviews can last between 30 minutes and one hour and are often scheduled beforehand via email.
To prepare for your phone interview:
- Find a distraction-free space to take the interview.
- Get yourself a glass of water.
- Have printed copies of your resume and the job description in front of you.
- If called out-of-the-blue, quickly stop what you're doing and move to a quiet space.
- Face-to-Face Interview
Face-to-face interviews will occur the most when applying for jobs. In most situations, the human resources representative will conduct the face-to-face interview but, you also might interview with your future boss or sometimes even the CEO.
When preparing for a face-to-face interview:
- Map out what your drive to the office will be. If you're unfamiliar with the area, consider testing out your route the night before. Look for any potential delays (such as construction) so you can plan the amount of time it takes to get there.
- Arrive to your interview about 15 minutes early.
- Bring extra copies of your resume and a padfolio for note-taking.
A video interview is conducted using a web-conferencing software such as Skype, Zoho, or G Suite. These types of interviews are typically used if you are applying for an out-of-state job. These types of interviews can be a little more nerve-wracking. Being vigilant about your preparations and practicing with your College's career center will help.Remember when preparing:
- Make sure you have a webcam and know how to use it.
- Make sure you are in a quiet, distraction-free space.
- Jump on a video call with a friend to check your audio levels beforehand.
- Make sure there is nothing distracting on the wall behind you where you plan to take the interview.
PRO TIP: For this type of interview, make sure that the window is located directly underneath your webcam on your computer screen (as pictured below).
Your eyes will naturally want to focus on the face of the person you're speaking to. If the window is at the top of your screen, it will be easier for you to practice making eye contact with the camera.
Career Fair Interview
The Career Fair Interview takes place at a job fair and usually only lasts about 10-15 minutes. Because of the duration of each interview, interviewees should strive to make a memorable impression.
Make sure to take meaningful notes during this type of interview to ensure your follow-up will resonate with the recruiter.
How to Prepare For Your Interview
Research the Company
Researching the company that you are about to interview with is probably one of the most important things to do to prepare yourself for a job interview.
Not only because it will make you seem knowledgable about their organization, but also because it will give you insight into what it is like to work for that organization.
When researching a company be sure to check out the following resources:
- Company Website
- Company Blog
- Company Social Media Accounts (this will help you plan your outfit later!)
- Company Photo Galleries (this will help you plan your outfit later!)
- Company Press Releases
Make sure to take note of any big changes or advancements that might have recently occured within your department so that you can reference it during your interview.
Plan Your Outfit Ahead of Time
For most interviews, interviewees should dress in Business Formal wear, but if you're applying for a specific trade such as construction or welding, most employers would find it acceptable to wear Business Casual wear.
Andy Teach, author of From Graduation to Corporation, and host of the YouTube channel FromGradToCorp, explains in Forbes that dressing for an interview is all about walking a fine line between fitting in, dressing too casually, and dressing too formal.
... Over the years, our society has become less conservative when it comes to dress code. Certain industries still require dressing conservatively but others have a more collegiate atmosphere and it's not unusual to find employees wearing shorts, T-shirts, and flip-flops to work. You probably don't need to wear a suit and tie to a job interview at a laid back company, but that doesn't mean you should dress too casually, either.... It’s imperative to check out the office attire prior to showing up for the interview.
When researching the organization, check out their social media accounts and photo galleries to understand the dress code that is required for that company.
Once you have determined how formal you will be dressing, take the extra time the night before to pull together all of the pieces of your interviewing outfit and make sure that everything is ironed and clean. This will help to alleviate some of those pre-interview jitters.
If all else fails, use this infograph as a cheat sheet for the differences between business formal and business casual:
Practice Sample Answers For Common Interview Questions
When preparing for your interview, you should spend a good amount of time preparing questions and sample answers for the interview.
Start by spending some time reviewing your resume and comparing it to the posted job description. This will help you to focus on examples and experience when talking to your interviewer.
Below are some sample questions that might come up during your interview:
- What interested you in working for this company?
- Give an example where you showed leadership and initiative.
- Give an example of when you were able to contribute to a team project.
- Give an example of how you solved a problem in the past
You can find more commonly asked interview questions here.
When crafting your answers, remember the following tips:
- The interviewer is asking these questions selfishly - They want to know how you can help them achieve their goals for that position. Make sure that you relate your answers to the job description.
- Be specific and concise - If you have adequately prepared for your interview you will have examples prepared to answer most questions. Be sure to convey accurate timelines, and a quick summary of the challenges, project, and the final outcome of the situation.
- Keep it positive - Even if you left your previous position on bad terms, DO NOT EVER bad-mouth a former employer in an interview.
- Stick to the facts - When possible avoid opinions and use numerical data to back up your responses. This will provide a legitimacy to your previous roles and impact.
The final step to prepare for the interview is to prepare some questions for the interviewer. Remember, the interview is a two-way street where you are both evaluating if the position will be a good fit.
Expect questions to come up naturally during the interview, but in case they don't here are a few places to start:
- What is the history of the position? (i.e. Is it a new position or is someone leaving? If so, why?)
- Where does the company excel? What are its limitations?
- What aspects of this job would you like to see performed better?
- What are the key challenges or problems of this position?
- Where can I go from here, assuming that I meet/exceed the job responsibilities?