Dept. of Experiential Education & Career Management
The interview is your chance to convince a potential employer to choose you instead of someone else. You want to sell yourself effectively, and these tips will help you do just that:
- Research the companies you are interviewing with beforehand. Visit their websites and become familiar with what they do and who their target customer is.
- Understand the position you are interviewing for. Have a general understanding of what someone in that job does.
- Allow extra time to get to your interview (in case of transportation trouble). It's better to be 10-15 minutes early than late.
- Look professional at an interview. Wear a clean, wrinkle-free suit. Hair and makeup should be polished.
- It is better to overdress than underdress. If you are questioning whether an outfit is interview appropriate or not, it isn't.
- Bring extra copies of your resume with you. Also, bring a sheet with 3-5 professional references, if possible.
- Ask questions. This shows the interviewer you are genuinely interested in their company and in the position.
- Don't ask questions about things you already went over during the interview. It will look as though you were not paying attention.
- Avoid answering all questions with a "yes" or "no." Treat every question as a chance to sell your skills and abilities.
- Do not give excessively long answers. Make your answers brief, accurate and interesting.
- Get a business card from everyone you interview with so you can write them a thank you note.
- When discussing availability, remember some retailers are open late during the holidays (or re-set overnight) so be careful when saying your availability is "open." Also, take travel time and the area the job is in into consideration.
- Practice answers to questions and set up a mock interview with the Career Development Center. This will help you get used to the types of questions asked and help you develop effective answers.
- Pay attention to body language. Be sure to let your body convey professionalism, interest and enthusiasm. Have a firm handshake, maintain eye contact and appear attentive. Be aware of nervous habits like toe-tapping or drumming your fingers on the table.
- Be positive! This is not the time to list all your complaints about your school/professors/previous employer. People would rather work with optimists than pessimists. If you can be positive about past experiences, you'll most likely be positive about future ones as well.
- Learn what happens next. It is a good idea to ask what the next step in the process is. How long will it take before they get back to you? Is your application complete?
- Thank the interviewers for their time and interest. But don't linger. Always send a thank you letter to the interviewer that night or the next day.
- If an employer calls either to set up an interview or offer you a position, do NOT wait around to call them back. A prompt response shows your interest, while waiting tells them you are really not serious or interested in the position or the company.
- If you need to change an interview, call and reschedule as soon as possible. Also, if you get an offer and have other interviews, call and cancel them. Not showing up for an interview without giving the employer ample notice is not acceptable.