Step One: Prepare Yourself
Dress appropriately. What you wear and how you are groomed create significant impressions on others. When in doubt, go conservative. Remember: this is a professional meeting and not a social event.
Business Formal means a suit in a subdued color.
Men should wear a tie, dark socks, highly polished shoes (wingtips or similar). (Example)
For women, pantsuits are appropriate. If wearing a skirt, it should be at or below the knees. Women should wear low heels (2” max) for easy walking. (Example)
Business Casual accepts khakis, trousers, collared shirts (men) without tie. Women may wear blouses or knit tops.
Grooming: For men, clean shaven is best. Women should not wear heavy makeup. Never wear cologne or other scents. Avoid too much jewelry or other distracting accessories. Tattoos should be hidden.
Concerned about finding professional clothing? Did you know that the Career Center offers FREE professional clothing to current students? Click here for more information!
Step Two: Research the Organization
The more you know about the organization, the less time the interviewer must spend explaining it to you, which means you’ll have more time to sell yourself. You can get a lot of information about the organization by doing internet searches, talking with current employees, or asking the organization to send you an information packet.
Step Three: Prepare Your Responses
Think about how you want to express yourself. What are your key strengths? Skills? What experiences have you had that you can use as examples to show what you can bring to the job?
Most interviewers will be interested in three things:
- What you know (education)
- What you’ve done that they can use (transferable skills)
- What type of employee you’ll be (team fit)
Try to prepare your answers so they fall into these categories.
The Career Center offers mock interviews to help you practice before your big day. Schedule your in-person mock interview via Handshake.
Big Interview, a virtual interview prep resource, can be exceptionally helpful in preparing you for an effective interview.
Step Four: The Big Day
Arrive early. Find a restroom and check to make sure you look great. Pop a breath mint.
Smile and clearly introduce yourself to the receptionist. Remember, everyone you meet will end the day with an impression of you. Be respectful and friendly.
The Handshake Test. Yes, it really does matter. Limp, soft or feeble suggests you lack confidence and presence.
Extras. Did you bring extra copies of your resume? Your portfolio? A note pad with questions you want to ask? A decent pen? Did you bring all this in a worn backpack or a classy portfolio binder?
Stay calm. Breathe deeply to ease your nerves. Focus on the questions not on yourself. Don’t overtalk. Stay on topic.
Step Five: Follow Through
Within 24 hours, send a thank you note to your interviewer. This is business etiquette and something far too many people don’t do. It can make a huge difference!
Ten days to two weeks after your interview, if you haven’t heard anything, call the interviewer to find out what the status is. Ask if they would like more information from you. Always be helpful and not demanding.
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