It’s that time of year again: interview season. The mad dash for internships is underway, and chances are if you have not already, you will find yourself in an interview soon. Whether it is for an internship or a full-time job, an interview can be intimidating. But that does not mean it has to be. I’ve put together a list of tips to keep in mind to make a great impression.
1.Be prepared. This seems obvious, but it must be said. Get plenty of sleep the night before and eat a good breakfast – no one wants to hear your stomach rumbling while you discuss your qualifications. Give yourself extra time to drive to your interview and find the office. Be early. Bring copies of your resume. If it is a Skype or phone interview, make sure you have a quiet area and a good Wi-Fi connection.
2.Do your research. How much do you know about the company’s mission, values and current state? Make sure your information is up-to-date and relevant. Demonstrating your knowledge of a new product or the company’s recent expansion will show how interested you are in the position.
3. Be presentable – another obvious one. Your choice of clothing is a key part of a first impression. Let your wardrobe reflect your professionalism and maturity. Dress as if the company has already hired you. Bonus tip: Dress just as well for Skype interviews.
4. Prepare anecdotes that show you in the best light. Many interviewers will ask you to tell them about a time when you resolved a conflict, dealt with controversy or overcame an obstacle. Come up with examples to questions like these ahead of time and practice telling your stories. I have found that my experiences during my semester in Rome often prove great fodder for anecdotes. Remember the time you missed your train and had to navigate around Budapest when you couldn’t read the street signs? A story like that can demonstrate your resourcefulness and ability to creatively find a solution in a dilemma. Be sure to keep your stories short, sweet and to the point.
5. Be confident in your strengths. An interview is not the place to be modest, but you also do not want your responses to come off as bragging. Practice your responses with friends to make sure that you leave an impression of competence and confidence that you are the best candidate for the job.
6. Know your weaknesses. It is very common for an interviewer to ask you what your biggest weakness is. The best way to answer is often to explain what you have done or are doing to combat this weakness and even turn it into a strength.
7. During the interview, be self-aware. Again, it seems obvious, but this is another important point. Sit up straight and practice a firm handshake. Speak clearly, without using slang or other inappropriately unprofessional language.
8. Be yourself. Your professionalism does not have to get in the way of being genuine. Remember, the interviewer will want to hire someone who is pleasant to work with, so be courteous and friendly, to everyone.
9. Ask questions! Engage with your interviewer. There is nearly always time at the end of the meeting for you to ask questions, and you should ask a few good ones. This is the time to show off your knowledge of the company or subtly bring up other aspects of yourself that you want the interviewer to know.
10. Remember your manners. Send a personalized thank you note — whether by email or snail mail — to your interviewer and anyone else involved in the interview process. It shows your thoughtfulness and will help you stand out from the crowd.
With these tips, you will be better prepared to ace the interview. Good luck!