I've been getting several emails asking for tips for job/internship interviews and interviews for organizations. I'm happy that recently I've been doing more interviews as the interviewer instead of the one being interviewed. It's great to see this situation from both perspectives so that I can give advice and learn from my experiences in both positions.
As a freshman in college, I was terrified of interviews and still remember sweating and blanking out during an interview for an on campus organization. But now, as a recent grad with lots of work experience and current graduate student, I welcome interviews! I seriously love them. So I'm sharing a few tips I've learned over the years that will help you make a great first impression in your interview!
5 things you should do before an interview
1. Research the company/organization and if possible, the person who will interview you.
Before I go to an interview, I research the history of the company, the leaders of the company and their backgrounds, find out if I know anyone who is or has been associated with the company, and current projects the company is working on. So much information can be found online these days that there is no excuse not to know simple facts about the company. Knowing information shows the interviewer you are truly interested in belonging and you valued the company enough to do your homework.
Also while doing research, look for commonalities or connections between you and the company.
2. Make copies of your resume and pack it in a professional padfolio/portfolio along with business cards, your CV, any other work samples you think may be helpful.
Even if you've already sent a copy of your paperwork to the employer, it never hurts to have additional copies and supplemental information.
3. Look up typically asked interview questions for your field and then write out how you would answer these questions. Then, practice saying these answers out loud. It's even better to practice saying them to someone else as you would in an interview.
I always review my resume, recent courses, and involvements before an interview because it's so easy to forget them in an intense setting if you haven't made a point to remember them. Also, I look up typical interview questions and write out how I would answer them for a particular company. Then, I practice giving my answers to a friend/family member. This is so helpful and can prevent you from stumbling or being awkward in an interview. It's uncomfortable for you and the interviewer when you go blank during an interview.
4. Come up with a few good questions you could ask the interviewers at the end (if they ask if you have any questions). Some examples
How have you enjoyed your time with this organization/company?
How would you describe the company culture?
What is the most rewarding part about working here?
What qualities are you looking for in the person who will fill this position?
And, be sure to have a short concluding response after the interviewer answers your question.
5. Find out exactly where the interview will be held, and give yourself 20-30 more minutes than you think you need to arrive. It's always better to be early than to be even a minute late. If you've never been to the place where your interview will be, it may be good to drive there a few days before so you don't risk getting lost and being late for your actual interview.
As an interviewer, there is nothing more frustrating than an applicant showing up late and coming into the interview flustered. If you live in a busy city like Atlanta, try and schedule your interview so that you won't deal with rush hour traffic. I typically schedule interviews around class time, but still late morning or mid-day.
Soon I'll be sharing my 5 tips for things you should do during an interview.
Good luck interviewing!