You’ve submitted your final paper, finished writing your last exam and now it’s time to start looking for a job. You’ve networked all semester and have a fairly strong resumé, but the idea of showing up to a job interview terrifies you. What if you go off on a tangent? What if the hiring manager doesn’t laugh at your joke? What if you’re not the right fit?
I’ve spoken with local hiring managers who have assured me these tips will help you succeed in your next job interview.
1. Bring important documents
When showing up to an interview, best practice is to bring a copy of everything you have sent the company up until that point. Additionally, printed copies of your resumé, cover letter and a few work samples are a great way to backup the claims you make during an interview.
As simple as it sounds, make sure to bring a pen and paper. You may want to write down a few things in advance or take notes during the interview.
Pro tip: During a panel interview, jot down the names of the panellists in the order they are sitting so that you can refer to them by name later on.
2. Highlight your school experience
When applying for a junior position, hiring managers expect that you’ll draw on school experiences. All of those group projects have prepared you with a range of transferable skills: managing deadlines, balancing competing priorities, working with teammates or even leading a team- so highlight them!
When asked a scenario question, show, don’t tell, the hiring manager how you possess the relevant skills. Think of concrete examples of you owning a problem and building a solution.
Pro tip: Don’t neglect the education section of your LinkedIn profile. If your resumé varies wildly from your profile, it may raise a red flag with a hiring manager.
3. Admit what you don’t know
Much like you learned in school, honesty is always the best policy. When the hiring manager asks if you know how to use InDesign, and you don’t, stay composed. Just because you don’t have that specific skill doesn’t mean you aren’t still a good fit for the position.
A great response in this type of situation is to admit that although you don’t currently possess the skill, you intend do everything you can to learn it. Just make sure to follow through!
Pro tip: If you see a skill (that you don’t have) on a job application, start a tutorial on Lynda.com. That way you can impress the hiring manager by demonstrating initiative.
4. Make the most of the interview
Hiring managers know that interviews can be awkward, but it’s important to put the best version of yourself forward. As the interview progresses, remember there is no prize for answering the questions in record time. Think before answering and make sure to get across the points you intended to.
Prepare intelligent questions to ask that indicate you are truly interested in the position. This is also an opportunity to determine if the organization fits what you are looking for in an employer, by allowing you to dig deeper into the organization- choose your questions wisely!
Pro tip: Start an answer over if need-be or come back to it later on if you realize you’ve missed saying something important.
5. Follow up
During the interview process, it’s important to think of ways to stand out in the field of applicants. Following up with a thank-you note builds rapport with the hiring manager and keeps you top of mind. It’s also a great opportunity to include additional, important information that you forgot to mention during the interview.
Wait 24 hours before sending the thank-you note and don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back. Hiring managers are busy and you don’t want to hurt your chances by pestering them with multiple emails.
Pro tip: Consider the organization’s culture when debating whether to send a thank-you card versus a thank-you email.
As intimidating as interviews can be, the hiring manager truly does want you to succeed. They want you to present your best so they can get a good sense of the pool of candidates. Remember that this is your interview just as much as it is theirs and so stay calm, follow these tips and let me know how your next interview goes!