Know as much as you can about the company you are interviewing with. Go beyond the “basics” by looking into things like future projects/trends, clients, mission, and culture.
Just because you are a “people person” doesn’t mean you’ll automatically ace the interview. Be familiar with talking about yourself, your goals, activities, projects, employment etc, through a practice interview in the Career Center - an important step in preparing yourself for the real thing. In this practice interview, a career counselor will videotape the interview, play it back, and critique it to help perfect your interviewing skills! You can also practice interview online anywhere, anytime with your webcam using InterviewStream, a tool that has thousands of interview questions for you to practice. You can set up your own interviews and practice right back into your camera.
Better yet, be a few minutes early! Make sure you know where the interview is taking place before the day of. Plan your route/method of travel early and keep things like traffic and delays in mind. Remember that everyone you meet on the day of the interview, from the secretary to the first year associate to the partner is involved in evaluating you even if it is informally.
Dress professionally and make sure you maintain a neat, clean, professional appearance. High profile industries, especially, will expect a polished presentation which includes a suit even though you’re still a student. Have a firm hand shake, and maintain eye contact as well as straight posture and smile. Avoid perfume & cologne and wear simple jewelry. Keep a formal tone, addressing the interviewer as Mr. or Ms. unless directed otherwise. Be careful about “filler words” such as “like” or “ummm.” Most importantly, keep everything positive. Speak about yourself, even your weaknesses, in a positive light of growth and curiosity.
Your answers should be concise and complete. Begin with the answer to the question, and then follow up with examples and additional information. The more you practice and become familiar with questions that could potentially be asked, the more comfortable and organized you will be.
This is one of the most important points. Don’t just tell an interviewer that you’re great – tell them WHY you are great for them! In other words, “sell, don’t tell.” Not only what did you do, but why is that significant? What are your top 3 strengths? How have you proven that throughout your college experience (ie an internship, project, activity, leadership position etc.)? If you cannot back something up, do not talk about it in an interview. These things are what make you memorable. Set yourself apart from the other candidates interviewing for the same position.
Think: what are they looking for and how do you connect with that? What types of things are mentioned in their job description? How do have you demonstrated those skills? These are certainly things you should highlight in the interview.
Prove that you have been thoughtful about the process of interviewing by asking questions that reflect your knowledge of the field and/or position. Do NOT ask questions that raise “red flags” such as salary, vacation etc. Also, avoid questions that can be easily answered by the organization’s webpage.
Ask for business cards while at the interview, and then send either a hand-written, typed or emailed thank you note to all individuals you interviewed with. Whether you type and mail your thank you note or email it is up to you, but sending it immediately is imperative. Mention something that struck you from the interview (i.e. that was particularly interesting or that you learned). Personalizing thank you notes goes a long way. Feel free to follow up with any questions or information you did not feel you answered sufficiently.
Is this a place you think you would enjoy working? Do you feel comfortable in the environment? Remember, part of an interview is also deciding if this is the type of position you would accept.