Whether this is a dream job or a temporary summer internship, your first impression may be the only chance you have to get through the door of opportunity. Whereas many factors determine if you'll get a second interview (or the job), this is your chance to wow the person on the other side of the table. Interviews help the company get to know you, understand your qualifications, determine what you'd like to get out of the position, and make sure your personality will mesh with the rest of the team. At the same time, this is your opportunity to make sure the position is a good fit into your career goals.
As you prepare, it's important to keep these five tips in mind:
1. Arrive on time (not too early)
There is a difference between looking determined or desperate. Yes, it's important to arrive on time to an interview; however, it can be a turn off if you arrive too early. Plan to get to the interview location with 10-15 minutes to spare in the instance that you get lost or stuck in traffic. If you arrive more than five minutes early, just hang out in your car until it gets a little closer to the time of your interview.
2. Bring your resume and portfolio (if applicable)
Always, always bring your resume to the interview. Chances are the interviewer will reference your resume and even ask to keep an extra copy when finished. This is a way for you to leave a paper trail before you exit the interview. If you have relevant work experience to the position, it is also crucial that you bring your artwork portfolio or writing samples. Take this time to show off your experience and stand out from the other candidates.
3. Ask questions pertaining to the position
Do your research about the company and position, so that you can come prepared with questions to ask during the interview. It's important to understand how the position will pertain to you and to set realistic expectations on both sides of the table. You should be able to tweak your prepared questions on the fly. If they've already been answered throughout the course of the interview and you ask them anyway, it might count against you as though you weren't paying attention.
4. Show off your personality
An interview is as much about your personality as your qualifications. Take time to talk about yourself, including your passions and career goals. Why are you there? How does the position fit into your lifestyle? By having this conversation, you'll not only calm your nerves, but you'll also give the interviewer some insight into who you are as an individual.
5. Follow up with a simple email or handwritten letter
A simple follow-up is always the way to go. Make sure to get a business card from your interviewer before leaving. This will give you the ability to follow up shortly after to stay fresh in the mind of the interviewer. If you are a little old-fashioned, a lot can be said about a handwritten note. This is a personal touch without the immediacy of an email. There is a fine line between curious and pushy, so it's important to have a clear understanding of an expected timeframe to send your interviewer a note.
Stay genuine and put your career goals out there. Most of all, good luck on your new adventure! Be true to yourself and remember, you might not land your dream job right off the bat. Mastering the skill of interviewing takes practice. It's always a great idea to ask for feedback after the interview to help with future endeavors, whether or not you receive an offer.