Within the next few weeks, many college students who have spent the last four years (or in some cases, there are those who completed an “extra lap” or two) will enter the job market. During this time, the majority of these bright individuals will be gearing up to enter the workforce.
However, there are plenty of other job seekers out there looking for employment in addition to the graduating class of 2011. A year ago, I faced a similar challenge: how to overcome the increasing unemployment rate and add myself as an employed professional. Throughout the last few years, I’ve come up with a number of tips and tricks that I have used for every company that I’ve interviewed with to date. Below, I’ve outlined these with some notes next to each one.
As a starting point, prior to interviewing make sure you that you set the right tone for yourself. Research the company, act confident, and have the mindset that you will begin working for that company the very next morning. There’s a fine line between being cocky and confident, but if you yourself don’t think that you should be working for that company, then why on earth should they hire you? Be outgoing, personable, and make sure to communicate how YOU will be an asset to the company differentiating yourself from competition.
Here are some of the tips that I’ve used which you may find helpful:
- Know where you are going. Correction, don’t just know where you are going, but also how long it takes to get there. The day before your interview go for a test drive to gauge how long your commute would be. On top of that, add 15 – 20 minutes for traffic, especially if your interview falls within rush hour. In some cases, depending on whether or not you’re in a big city, you may want to add some more time on your estimated travel. If you show up late for your interview, you’re already marking strikes against yourself, so please don’t do that.
- Research, research, research. You’ve obviously done something right to have landed the interview, but be aware that your homework assignment isn’t completed by the time you walk into their office. When you arrive early to your interview (sticking to the first point), you’ll have already made a good impression. Spend this time to review any company information and position related items that you’ve brought to the interview with you. Also, it helps to speak to someone in HR, if possible, as they’ll be closely involved in the hiring process. Try to be as receptive as you can of the environment that you’re in, as the little things can make all the difference. For example, if you notice the interviewer has memorabilia from a specific sports team, this may be a great segway into a conversation later in the interview.
- Eat and sleep your way to success. If you don’t have the proper amount of nourishment prior to your interview, you’ll be overwhelmed once the questions start coming around. Also, without the right amount of sleep, you’ll come across as fatigued and weary, so it’s in your best interest to eat breakfast and rest up the night before.
- Dress for success. From looking at the company website, or speaking to other employees, you should be able to gain a sense of what the company dress code is. If not, this is something that HR should be able to answer, so check with them prior to the interview so that you understand the environment that you’ll be working in. To be on the safe side, wearing a business suit is usually a good bet as I believe it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. Unless you’re Chris Gardner (Will Smith) from the Pursuit of Happyness, you’d better dress for success. Not many people can walk in with an athletic shirt and jeans with paint all overthemselves and still land a job. (Click here to view the scene that I’m referring to in case you’re not familiar with it).
- Be prepared. As a hiring manager, I’d rather bring someone on board to my team that’s prepared. So, make sure that you have a couple extra copies of your resume, some writing material, and a pen or pencil. As the military adage of PPPPPPP goes, Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. There’s truth to this, so you might as well be ready for it.
- Make a great first impression. For years, I’ve heard the saying “your first impression is your last impression.” This may seem confusing at first, but if you look a bit deeper at this, it makes sense. If you don’t make a good first impression, then it will be your last impression with those individuals, so make the most of it. Head in with a positive attitude and make sure that you’re genuinely interested in the conversations that you have with your interviewer.