Here’s the thing about interviews: they are stressful, scary, intimidating and a lot like a first date. You spend hours planning your outfit, you spend extra time on your hair and you even practice what you will say in front of a mirror. You give yourself pep talks and tell yourself that you can do this. When you get there with sweaty palms, you ask yourself, “What if they don’t like me? What if I’m not what they’re looking for?” Finally, you sit in front of the interviewer, smile and wait for the ice-breaker and get-to-know-you questions. They’re checking you out; you’re checking them out. You’re trying to see if it’s something you could see yourself doing for a long time, looking to see if it could go somewhere. And when it’s over, you wait for them to call you, with an offer or a second interview.
Just like when you go on a date, you always want to prepare yourself for an interview. You can’t just throw on a nice outfit and wing it. You wouldn’t do that on a date, and you definitely shouldn’t do it in an interview. Here’s a list of things to help you be successful in your interview so that you land that dream job.
1. Write down the details of the interview
Write down the date, time and the person you are meeting with, the location of the meeting, contact information and the job title that you are applying for. If you write down the specifics, there is no chance of confusion and knowing that you know exactly what you are doing and where you are going will help to ease the stress of interviewing.
2. Bring helpful materials
When I go on a date I always pack my purse in case of emergencies. I pack things like gum or mints of some sort, a small bottle of perfume, money, lipstick, and pepper spray (a girl can never be too careful). So just like on a date, you want to pack helpful materials for an interview. Bring extra copies of your resume and the original copy of the cover letter that you sent them. Print out a copy of the job description so that you can address points from the exact posting in case there is any confusion as to what you are applying for. Bring some samples of your work as well as a reference sheet with contact information of references that the company can call. Finally, bring a notepad and a few pens to write down anything you feel is necessary, a bottle of water, and breath mints.
3. Know your skills and qualifications
You always want to talk positively about yourself when you’re on a date, and you want to do the same thing in an interview. Not in a sense that you’re bragging, but know what you’re capable of. When they ask you what you will bring to their company, know the answer. You should know what your skills are and how you can benefit the company. In addition, you should be able to explain how your past experiences and your skill sets apply to the position that you are interviewing for. By showing confidence while explaining your skills, you will instantly look and feel more confident, and that will definitely come across to the interviewer.
4. Do your research
Facebook stalking is a major thing when it comes to dating nowadays. When you meet someone new you always do your research and try to find out as much as possible about them. It’s the same for jobs. Do your research on the company. Look them up. Find out what their mission statement is. Are they international? How big is the company? When was it founded? Find interesting topics to discuss with your interviewer. Ask questions and make yourself seem extremely interested. While on a date, you might look creepy for admitting to stalking that person, but in an interview you will look more promising because you actually took the time to get to know the company. Not only will you seem interested, you will seem both dedicated and passionate.
5. Have questions
Let me say that again; HAVE QUESTIONS. When you go on a date, you have millions of questions about that other person. You’re thinking about a relationship, or wanting to see that person again. Therefore, you have to ask questions to get to know that person and find out if they are worth seeing again. You have to do the same thing in an interview. Employers expect you to ask questions. Not asking questions makes it seem like you’re not interested in the job, or that you didn’t care enough to put any time or thought into the interview. So think of questions that are important to you; what will the job entail? What does the interviewer like most about the company? What does he/she like most about her job? Ask things that make you seem interested in not just the job but the company as a whole.
After a date you give yourself a second to reflect. Was the person nice? Do you like them enough to go on a second date? What did you like most about that person? You should do the same thing after an interview. Go to a coffee shop right after the interview, sit down and write down your thoughts. Do you need to follow up on anything? Was there anything they asked you to send that you need to send immediately? Who do you need to send an email or thank you note to? Did you think that the interview went well? Why or why not? Most importantly, ask yourself, “if offered the position, do I want it?” Your initial reaction to the interview will tell you what you really think about working there. Make sure you follow up and ask yourself these questions, because a week later when you get the job offer, you’re going to need to know if you want the job or not.
7. Send a thank you note
Make sure you thank the company for taking the time to see you. You always thank a date after the night is over regardless of how it went, and you should do the same for an interview. It’s polite. Not to mention employers will really appreciate the fact that you took the time to thank them. It speaks highly of you if you can recognize that they are busy, but they took time out of their schedules to meet you.
The interviewing process is scary, but it doesn’t have to be. If you can handle a first date, you can handle an interview. Be confident. Be excited. But most importantly, be yourself.
Caitlin Munch is a junior professional writing major with an emphasis in publishing and editing. Her list of books she wants to read is always being added to, and she watches more TV shows than she probably should. She writes best when there’s a thunderstorm, and she has a weakness for Rice Krispie treats.