First impressions can make or break you!
Before you even enter the interview room, remember the following tips:
Be Punctual. Allow plenty of time to get to the interview. You should plan to arrive 10 - 15 minutes early to give yourself time to "catch your breath" and collect your thoughts.
Dress appropriately. Attire should be professional, neat, and appropriate to the industry you are looking to join. As a general rule, it is always better to be conservative. Avoid heavy perfumes, colognes, and excessive jewelry.
Body Language. Make sure you greet your interviewer enthusiastically. Give a firm handshake. Maintain good eye contact. Avoid distracting mannerisms or nervous behavior (e.g. fidgeting, crossing your arms, twirling your hair, and playing with jewelry).
Greeters. Many companies will bring a greeter to on-campus interviews or have a junior member of the team meet you first. Greeters should be considered interviewers and treated as such. Be warm and friendly, and understand that what you say will be logged to your interviewer and included in your evaluation. The greeter is often the person who will attempt to answer the question, “Will this person fit in with our team?”
Small Talk. Many interviews begin casually. You may have to walk through several areas of the company before arriving at the office where your interview will be conducted. Be prepared to make small talk. Chat about the weather, the impressiveness of the firm’s location, or a recent sporting event. Just keep it simple—you will want to switch gears quickly once you enter the office.
Activities. Many interviewers will begin their interview questions with light material. Maybe they too played soccer in college, or were involved in theatre, or traveled the world. It’s a great way to break the ice, just be aware that these can often be missed opportunities to sell yourself. Just because the talk is light does not mean you are not being evaluated.
20 Minutes to Sell What You’ve Got
Once all of the introductions are made and the small talk is over you’ve got about 20 minutes until the interviewer turns the questioning over to you. How do you best control the situation? This is where your preparation will pay off.
Sell yourself. You have a product to sell to your interviewer—you! Don’t be shy about discussing your accomplishments and highlighting your skills. That’s why you’re there.
Don’t get stuck. Sometimes an interviewer will zero in on one aspect of your resume, but you want to make sure to utilize all areas of your background to exhibit your skill set. Use a behavioral-based question to change tracks. When asked to “tell about a time when,” use examples from your varied coursework, experiences, and activities.
Avoid being negative. No one wants a whiner for an employee. Never speak poorly about a firm or a particular work or school experience. Find the positive side of the situation by focusing on the skills you developed or the lessons you learned.
Be enthusiastic. Employers want to hire people who are fresh and energetic. Demonstrate your interest in both the job and the company. But there is no need to gush–remain sincere.
Ending the Interview
It’s not over until you leave the building. Shifting gears into the final stretch, most interviewers will ask you if you have any questions for them. This is still part of the interview! Pull out those questions you have already prepared and use your best stuff. Don’t be afraid to improvise based upon some of the issues that were discussed during the interview. This is a great way to demonstrate your listening skills and your enthusiasm. Ask insightful questions. We have prepared a list of sample questions to help you get started. Reiterate your interest and qualifications. Ask what the next steps are in their hiring process. Thank your interviewer for their time and be sure to get their business card.