July 20, 2018
In today’s competitive job market with most companies relying heavily on electronic application systems, it can be challenging to stand out and make a lasting impression on a potential employer. If you are given the chance to interview for a full-time job or internship, it is important to make the best use of the limited amount of time you will likely receive. An interview can lead to many new opportunities, and the professional relationships you create can open doors for you in the future. Never underestimate the power of networking! Below you will find several tips to help you put your best foot forward during the interview process:
Don’t forget your resume! It is highly recommended to print extra copies of your resume and bring them with you to any interview. It shows you have taken the time to plan ahead and are ready to speak to your skills and experiences. In case there are any last-minute changes or adjustments to the interview schedule on the employer’s end, having extra copies of your resume will show that you are prepared and able to adapt to any interview situation. Bring a notebook and pen with you to take notes and provide an opportunity for you to develop your thoughts and ideas before responding to interview questions.
Do your research! These days, it is easy to leverage the internet and find a wealth of information about a potential employer, but surprisingly many candidates walk into interviews having done little to no research. Read over the key qualifications of the job description and be prepared to demonstrate why you would be a good fit for the role. Even if there is a qualification you may be lacking, you can use it as an opportunity to express your interest in learning and an openness to developing new skills. As much as an employer is evaluating whether you would be a good fit for their company during an interview, you should also use the time to figure out if the company is a good fit for you. When you are familiar with what the company does and ask questions during your interview, you will leave a positive impression and have information to make the right decision if presented with a job offer.
Personal presence is key! Make a positive first impression and display confidence by maintaining eye contact, listening carefully, taking your time to gather your thoughts before you speak, engaging with your body language, and giving a firm handshake. If you are interviewing in person, be sure to arrive 10-15 minutes early and dress in a professional manner that is appropriate for the job. If you are participating in a virtual phone or video interview, choose a private, quiet place so you can focus on the conversation and the interviewer can clearly hear and see you without distractions. Test your phone or video connection ahead of time to avoid technical issues.
Always follow up! Following any interview, take down the names and contact information of the interviewers you meet with and send each person a thank you note. If there was something from the interview that was helpful or if you connected with your interviewer on something specific, mention it! It will help them remember your conversation and draw a connection back to you. Be sure to ask when you might expect a hiring decision to be made. Sometimes the decision-making is not in the hands of the interviewers or recruiters, so do your best to maintain communication, but avoid being too aggressive. Timing is everything! It is likely that the company will be interviewing multiple candidates for a specific job, so it may take some time to get back to you with a decision.
You may be nervous before an interview, and that’s completely normal! However, when you prepare by doing your research and know how to sell your qualifications, you will leave a lasting impression on any potential employer. Good luck!
Lindsey Bryant Jacob
(Epsilon Pi-Virginia Tech)
CAB Specialist-Division 19
University Recruiting Manager at Booz Allen Hamilton