Your time in college is all in preparation for your career or ministry after graduation. Class projects, tests, and homework assignments are created to teach you applicable skills that will impress your future employer and give you a solid foundation to grow in your future career. But between classes, homework, and internships it can be easy to miss the first right of passage to landing your dream job right out of college: The Interview.
To help you face your first job interview (and your second and third) with confidence, we talked to North Central University’s Career Services Specialist, Judy Winship, about the five things you should ask yourself before walking into an interview.
5 questions to answer before walking into a job interview
What do I wear to the interview?
Whether your interview is at a coffee shop, via Skype, or at the corporate office, dress for success. It is not possible to overdress. Business professional should be your default. A safe combination could be a neutral color scheme, suit and tie for men, dress with a blazer for women.
What do I know about this company?
Do your research. Following their social media platforms is a great place to start. Visit their website and read updates and blogs. Get familiar with the organization’s mission statement and familiarize yourself with any recent announcements or articles about the company. This will not only give you an edge, but it can help you decide if you’d be a good fit for the job!
What should I expect?
Know how many people will be in the interview. Don’t assume it will be with one person. It is fine to ask, “Can you tell me how many people to expect in the interview and how long I should schedule for the interview?” Ask names and titles so you can pre-plan questions for each and prepare knowing your audience. If you forget to ask when scheduling it, email or call back to confirm your interview and get details. This way there will be no surprises!
Where will the interview site be?
Know the exact address of the interview and give yourself plenty of time to get there. Make sure to ask details about access to the building and what floor or office number you should be looking for. It is common to get to a location and not be sure where to go. Plan to arrive 15 minutes prior to your interview by using a navigations system and consider high traffic times.
If it is a phone interview make sure you have the right phone numbers or Skype details. Also ensure your environment is free of interruptions, traffic noise, animals barking, and the door bell ringing for all video or phone interviews.
What do I need to bring?
- Carry a professional pad folio and bring multiple hard copies of your resume, cover letter, and references (on resume paper).
- Write down questions you have about the team/staff, what a typical day looks like, what training is available for new hires, and what a new hire should accomplish in this role within the first 60 days to be considered successful.
- Carry a simple portfolio with some samples of your work. Students and recent graduates can include pieces completed related to coursework such as a published article, short paper, project timeline, and reference online portfolios if video content is involved.
- Bring a business card with your name, contact number, expertise or area of study, LinkedIn connect and website. It shows you are professionally prepared to network and facilitates getting each interviewer’s business card for follow-up and thank you notes. Business cards can be ordered very inexpensively through Vistaprint.
How should I follow up after an interview?
Sending a thank you card could definitely help you stand out from other candidates and could be the deal breaker in getting an offer over another candidate with a similar a background. Definitely send a thank you the next day. It is recommended to have supplies ready with stamps so you can write thank you cards to each participant from the interview. Pop them in the mail or drop them off.
Bonus: If you desire a few touch points to stay top of mind during the hiring process, send an email to participants that evening expressing your appreciation for their time and for sharing about the organization, teams, vision, etc. Then, still send your hand-written or formal business thank you in the mail.
Interviews can be an intimidating and time consuming process from resume writing all the way to the actual interview itself. The truth is, the more you do it the more natural it comes. But it never hurts to be prepared. With these tips and tricks under your belt you are sure to impress and interviewer.