As college students begin to enter the working world, the dreaded task of applying for internships and jobs arise. While filling out applications might seem like a breeze, that’s only the first step in the process of being hired. If you are lucky enough to make it to the next step after an application, you have to get ready for an interview. While the word “interview” can produce immediate fear within a person, here are a few do’s and don’ts that will better prepare you for those upcoming interviews.
DO: Make sure to have at least three, unfolded copies of your résumé on hand. You might be surprised with multiple people conducting the interview, so you want to make sure you’re prepared to hand every person your résumé.
DON’T: Chew gum. Ever. This should be a no-brainer, but unfortunately it happens a lot. Chewing gum is not only distracting for the person conducting the interview, but also extremely unprofessional.
DO: Maintain eye contact with your interviewer without being too creepy. Make sure you are focused on the questions and the person you are speaking to, but don’t have a staring contest with them. Break eye contact occasionally, but always return when asking or answering a question.
DON’T: Refer to your interviewer by their first name, unless they instruct you to. You should be familiar with the name of the person before you go in for your interview, so approach them as Mr., Mrs., Ms., or Dr. If there are any questions of whether or not a woman is a Ms. or Mrs., the safe bet is always Ms.
DO: Arrive 10-15 minutes early. You want to be able to scope out the place, observe the culture and the employee vibe. This will allow you time to adjust to the environment and gather your thoughts.
DON’T: Arrive too early or late. If you are 30 minutes early, stay in your car for a bit. You don’t want to sit in the waiting room too long or catch the interviewer off guard. They may just be coming back from lunch or a meeting and you don’t want to rush them. On the other hand, showing up late to an interview usually ends with no job offer. You should always map out and even drive to the place of interview prior to the day of. Also, traffic is never a good excuse for being late. Never. So make sure you check for possible traffic jams and allow yourself enough time for any unexpected occurrence.
DO: Show gratitude during and after an interview. Begin and end your time by thanking them for taking time out of their schedule to meet with you. Afterward, send a follow-up email thanking your interviewer and informing them of when you plan to discuss the possible position more.
DON’T: Read off your résumé when asked to talk about yourself. Your interviewer can read what is in front of them, so use this time to talk about a few attributes you feel best describe yourself. Make sure you include real life situations when you have used those traits and always tie it back to how you would benefit the company. Having actual stories is much more impressive than reading what is typed on your résumé.
DO: Have a list of questions on hand. Most likely, your interviewer will ask if you have any questions for them, and your answer should never be “no.” By asking questions, you show you did your research on the company and their products or services beforehand. This is also a good way for them to learn more about you while getting your questions answered.
DON’T: Leave the interview without knowing your next step with the company. There is nothing worse than being left with no knowledge of what to expect, so before leaving an interview, ask to summarize what you are taking away. By summarizing, you are showing your potential employer that you were paying close attention throughout your time with them and that you are genuinely interested in the next step. Asking for a basic timeline will show maturity on your part, as well as give you knowledge of what to expect.