Acing an Interview: The Basics and Not-So-Basics that Will Make You Shine

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Let’s face it: interviews are stressful! There’s no denying that interviews lead to increased anxiety, rushes of adrenaline, and panic over not knowing what to say. Use these tricks below to help you shine and prove why you are the best candidate for the job.

Basics:

1)   Maintain eye contact.

2)   Give a firm handshake.

3)   Remember to smile.

4)   Arrive ten minutes early.

5)   Dress appropriately.

When in doubt, dress nicer than you think you need to. Looking sloppy is the easiest and quickest way to start off on the wrong foot.

6)   Bring an extra copy of your résumé*.

*Don’t necessarily keep this in front of you, but have a fresh copy stowed away in a bag or briefcase. Use your own judgment to assess whether or not to offer a copy to the interviewer.

7) Keep a notebook and pen in front of you.

Not-So-Basics:

8) Ignore that little voice in your head.

There is a common saying that we are all our own worst critics. That little voice in your head telling you that you aren’t prepared enough, that you aren’t qualified for the position, that you aren’t ready, IGNORE it! Switch off the emotional voice and focus in on the pragmatic one. Don’t stand in your own way! You can do this!

9) Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Carpe likes to prepare in two simple ways: personal and professional.

For the personal preparation, update your résumé. Make sure it is up-to-date with the most relevant information (i.e. if you are now a sophomore in high school consider removing random activities from before freshman year; if you are now a sophomore in college consider removing anything from high school that does not highlight an important personal asset). Take a look at Purdue University’s Online Resource for how to create a great résumé.

Secondly, prepare professionally by doing thorough research on the company you are interviewing for and the people you are interviewing with. Two good places to start are on Linkedin and through the website of the company or group you are interviewing with.

10) Have information in front of you.

Create “cheat sheets” for yourself. Print out a copy of your own résumé and highlight the three main parts that stand out. This will provide you with a quick reference for your personal agenda (see below). Warning: don’t look down at paper for more than a quick glance to guide your thoughts. You want to keep the conversation flowing.

11) Set a personal agenda.

Before the interview begins, decide on a couple standout points that you want to work into the conversation. It could be as simple as a fun fact about yourself to help the interviewers remember you, or something more specific like the latest project you worked on and how it challenged you. Depending on how long the interview lasts, try to work in 1-3 important points that you believe will set you apart from the rest of the competition.

12) Send a reminder e-mail.

Sending a brief and polite e-mail the day before an interview can be a good way to make sure the interviewer is still available to meet. Let them know what you will be wearing and reiterate that you are excited to speak with them in person. Sending this short email will help sooth your nerves the night before.

13) Send a follow-up email.

Always send a follow-up email or card to thank the interviewer for his or her time and consideration. I would recommend sending this follow-up a few hours after the interview or early the next morning.

14) Offer to pay.

If you are meeting for coffee or a small meal, offer to pay. It is appropriate to spend about 5 to 15 dollars.

15) Be able to confidently answer, “Why do you want to work here?”

You need to know why you want the job. If you can’t think of a reason right away, reconsider if you are aiming high enough or following a true passion. At Carpe we pivot all the time to follow what inspires us, and you should do the same.

16) Don’t be afraid to ask, “Why should I work here?”

You matter. You are valuable. You are going to be contributing to a team and working hard, so ask the tough questions and don’t be afraid to demand what you deserve.

No matter how informal or formal an interview is, these steps will help guide you in the right direction.

How do you prepare for an interview? Let us know!