Interview season is upon us. When it comes to interviews, preparation is key. Let’s be real—interviews can be nerve-racking and even a little scary. You are put in the hot seat, asked questions that may catch you off guard and evaluated for your responses, résumé, portfolio and whatever else. Then the company instantaneously decides if you’re a good fit or not.
Consider some of our best tips to help you prepare for and then ace your next interview:
- Do your research — This first step is critical. Make sure you know a bit of background on the company, check out their list of clients and familiarize yourself with some of their work. Odds are, the employer has done some research on you too.
- Take some time to self-reflect — This tip may sound trivial, but it’s crucial. Ask yourself: Why do I want this job? What makes me qualified for this position? Why is this company a good fit for me? What am I most passionate about? In what kind of environment do I thrive? What are my long-term goals and how can I reach them?
- Update your résumé and portfolio — Employers might not be won over by a project you did back in 2014. Make sure you’ve taken the time to add your most recent and valuable work; having work samples in either a print or digital portfolio is key. Be aware that one typo or grammatical error may result with your résumé in the trash can. Find someone to look over your résumé and make any edits. College students should utilize their campus resources, like résumé-critique sessions at the career services center. Once you’re sure that your résumé is error-free, print a couple of hard copies to bring with you.
- Clean up your social media — Google yourself, check yourself out on Facebook and ask yourself: “Would I hire me?” Even though you obviously can have a social life outside of work, remember that you will be representing the company in which you work. If you are interviewing for a social media position, be aware that the potential employer may expect your social media accounts to be public.
- Practice interviewing — Practice with a friend or family member. Interviews can be stressful, even when you’re prepared. Train yourself to be comfortable, or at least less awkward, when put in the hot seat. Avoid sounding robotic—practice being conversational with a sense of professionalism.
- Don’t psych yourself out — Composure is key. You may want to pass on the three cups of coffee beforehand to avoid having the jitters. Try meditation or any other method to help reduce the nerves. If it’s meant to be, it will be, right?
- Be mindful of your non-verbal gestures — Non-verbal communication is a subtle, yet powerful tool. Silent gestures, like facial expressions, body language and eye contact, can communicate beyond what you say aloud. For example, fiddling around with your hands or tapping your foot may convey your nervousness and/or distract the interviewer. Staring at the door or avoiding eye contact may communicate that you’re eager to peace out of there.
- Be the best version of yourself — Show your personality, but keep it professional. The interviewer is not only interested in your responses, but also in the way you interact with other employees and potentially clients. Be personable, passionate and, most importantly, be yourself, because once you’ve been hired—there’s no hiding that.
- Show up on time and go kill it — Give yourself plenty of buffer time to avert any additional stress. You never know how many red lights you may run into or what the parking situation may be. It’s better to be early and give yourself some time to relax and mentally prepare than to be cutting it close and stressing out. You don’t want your first interaction to be an apology/excuse for arriving a couple minutes late.
Approach the situation with confidence and remember why you’re there. There’s clearly a reason why you applied for this specific job and why the company is considering you. Confidence is admirable (but know when confidence turns to arrogance).
- Follow up with a thank you note or email within 24 hours of the interview — Someone (or multiple people) took time out of their day(s) to spend some time getting to you know because they saw potential in you. Be sure to thank them for the opportunity and express a continuing interest. Bonus points for a handwritten note.
Now put your new found knowledge to work and apply for the Freestyle’s summer internships!