Your opportunity is finally here. You received a call-back from an employer, and they want you to come for an interview! This is great news and an incredible opportunity, but you are likely one of several candidates that reached this stage. You need to prepare to make sure that your interview makes you stand out from the rest of the pack. Here are the top five interview prep tips to help you land that job.
1) Schedule to arrive one hour early: The quickest and surest way to ruin an interview is to arrive late. All your excuses about bad traffic or delayed trains will likely fall on deaf ears. I always advise students to schedule to arrive one hour before the interview. That way even with a horrible commute or unforeseen circumstances, they will still arrive on time.
2) Never show up TOO early: While you should schedule to arrive one hour early, you should actually walk in between 5-10 minutes early. People are busy, and it is very uncomfortable for employers to have applicants sitting around for long periods of time. If you arrive early, confirm that you have the right location and make sure you know the security procedures, and then kill your time at a local coffee shop (just remember that coffee and many foods can stain your clothes and teeth, so be careful).
3) Wear appropriate professional dress: It is essential that you are appropriately dressed for an interview. In most cases that will mean that you dress in formal business attire (such as a suit). However, it is very important to really know the company. Many tech based start-ups are less formal and will view a suit as an indication that you are not the right fit for their culture. Look up a number of senior employees on LinkedIn and make your decision based on how they are dressed in their profile pictures.
4) Present yourself professionally: There is so much more to your professional persona than how you are dressed. Little things like clean and trim nails, fresh breath and neat hair can make a huge difference. Weather is no excuse! It doesn’t matter if it is hot and humid or pouring rain, you need to make sure that you present yourself dry, calm, cool and collected. A quick check in a bathroom mirror before you walk in can make a HUGE difference! This is another reason that arriving early can give you a big advantage.
5) Prepare! Interviewing is not intuitive and you do get better at it with practice. If your school has a Career Services office, come to them for assistance. Study standard interview questions and strategies for answering them. Be confident in yourself. Work on your eye contact, your posture and eliminating any distracting habits (like twirling you hair or tapping your pen). Practice your answers with a friend or spouse (or in the worst case scenario, in front of a mirror) so you get a feel for how you sound.