Jennifer | April 1, 2011
I have been through some crazy interviews for jobs. I’ve been through interviews where the employer was forced by luck of the draw to interview but was clearly not interested, I’ve been through 8-hour interviews with 6 different people, I’ve flown to Vegas on short notice for an interview, and I’ve been in an interview where the only question I was asked was, “So, do you have any questions about the job?” In my experience, the only common denominators in job interviews are that they can be stressful and unpredictable.
So how do you prepare for that?
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I have a few pointers, and they involve preparing your appearance, your knowledge about yourself, your knowledge about the employer/job, and preparing for the unexpected.
1. Prepare your appearance
I know that there are varying opinions on what to wear for an interview, but in my experience and opinion and from talking to people across careers, there should be some basics. If you are applying for any type of office job, professional position, or anything that you might call a career, wear a suit. You may have to read the feeling of the office/job to know how formal to get, but it never hurts to err on the side of more formal than less formal. For men, a matching suit jacket and pants with a crisp button-down shirt, tie and dress shoes is almost a no-brainer. Since women in the work place have a wider variety of what is considered corporate attire, you can certainly take your pick of which direction to go, but I still will always recommend a suit with a button-down shirt or nice shell underneath. Whether this means skirt suit or pant suit and high heels or flats is up to your personal taste. I have certainly heard from career counselors that skirt suits and closed-toe high heels are considered “more conservative,” so I feel an obligation to pass that along to you. However, I personally always wear pant suits. For colors, you will always look professional if you stick to your dark neutrals for the suit itself – black, navy or dark grey, and either the classic white or blue for your button-down shirt. Make sure you lay your outfit out the night before, and make sure it is clean, ironed and free of pet hair.
Consider taking a small emergency kit with you – safety pins, hem glue, bobby pins, lint roller, Clorox pen – you never know what may befall you the day of the interview, and its good to always be prepared.
Included in your appearance is your resume – print out a nice clean version on resume paper (if possible) to have on-hand, as well as your list of references and a copy of your cover letter. Place these in a nice portfolio and carry that with you into the interview. Have a pen and paper in the portfolio as well in case you need to write down some information they give you.
Practice your smile. A polite and firm handshake and welcoming smile will always give a good first impression.
2. Prepare your knowledge about yourself
Make sure you can talk about each and every item on your resume. Brush up on what all is contained in that little nugget of information about you – they could ask you about anything.
Be able to express why you want to work there and how they fit into your plans and goals.
Think of one or two things that are not on your resume that might be good descriptions of you or help to describe your abilities. For example, I had a short internship in sports information my freshman year of college, but this isn’t on my resume. However, if I was asked about my ability to compile information and communicate it effectively, this might be an interesting tidbit to harken back to in my response.
3. Prepare your knowledge about the job and employer
Make sure you know what job you are interviewing for. Review the job