I’m going to be straight with you, there is no such thing as the perfect interview. The questions asked of you will vary depending on the job you applied for. There’s only so much advice I can give that will be applicable in every situation. That said, there are some very important things you should keep in mind when you finally get the chance to sit and talk with a potential employer.
Before the interview, research the company. Learn everything you can about what they do and pay special attention to any recent news important to them. The key to most interviews is to make the employer feel like this is your dream job. Being knowledgeable about their company supports this idea – true or not.
Print out a few additional copies of your résumé to hand to your interviewer. On the off chance they didn’t come into the interview with your résumé in hand, you’ll look prepared with extras you can give them.
Dress one step above the position you are applying for. For most professional jobs, this means you need to wear a suit. Women have a bit more flexibility in this area, but I don’t think anyone can go wrong with a good suit. Choose dark, neutral colors. I recommend dark blue or grey. Black has a tendency to invoke funerals and/or weddings. That said, I wore a black suit to my interviews (because it was all I had) and got the job. More important is the shirt. Choose a color that does not grab attention. I wore a dark green blouse. Any bright colors should be avoided.
Have at least one story you can say about each job and activity you list on your résumé that relates to the job. Keep the stories simple. What was the issue? What did you do? What was the result? They will ask for more information if they have a need.
Come into the interview with questions of your own. This is extremely important. You can do a Google search to find some good questions. My favorites include
- What is the biggest challenge employees deal with?
- What is the average day here like?
- What are the company’s goals for the future?
Don’t bring up benefits or money unless the employer does. You will get that information when they offer you the job and you can start your bargaining then. If the employer does bring up these topics, tread carefully. That said, if they bring up money and benefits, you are now free to discuss those topics. Just don’t be the one to bring it up.
For the love of all that is good in this world, contact the employer a week after the interview to remind them of your interest. Whether this is the job of your dreams or a job to get by, make them feel special. Let them know you are excited about this opportunity and waiting for their response. If you don’t do this, you could ruin everything.
Lastly, send a thank you card. I don’t know that I’ve ever done this, but I have seen employers act very impressed when they get one in the mail.
This will probably be my last career advice post for a while. This is the end of the tactics I’ve used. I hope I have helped some of you out in your own job search. As always, I am more than happy to answer any questions about how I got to where I am today. We 20-somthings are in the same boat and I’d be more than happy to give you any edge I can.