So You Want to Work for the “Big Man”?
November 2, 2015
By Caitlin McGraw
You’ve spent your college career dedicating your time and energy preparing for your dream job. The time has finally come to enter the real world! Before you know it, you’ve been called for your first interview. At first, you are ecstatic! Then, the nerves set in. Where do you begin to prepare?
- Create a professional resume.
Your resume should highlight your accomplishments as a student, an employee, and a community volunteer. Arrange your accomplishments in chronological order by category, starting with most recent. Proofread your entire resume, even your name and contact information. It is helpful to have a second pair eyes look at it, whether that be a parent or trusted peer. The University Writing Center has a resume example to help you get started: UWC Resume Sample.
- Be prepared for your interview day.
Practice! Use sample questions from the Career Development Center to do a mock interview with a friend or family member, answering common interview questions and practicing good posture and eye contact. Research your audience. Being able to ask informed questions at the end of your interview will set you apart. Proofread your resume again! You should bring at least 4 copies to the interview because it is likely that you will be interviewed by more than one person. Before interview day, canvas the area, ensuring you know exactly where you are going and how long it takes to get there. To prevent interview day stress, iron and lay your clothes out the night before.
- Arrive 10 minutes early.
Your interview day will be much easier if you arrive 10 minutes early. Imagine all of the things you can accomplish with those extra minutes: you have plenty of time to find the interview room, use the restroom, and make sure your professional outfit is still arranged the way you intend. Most importantly, this gives you time to collect your thoughts and take a deep breath.
- The Actual Interview
You may find this part a blur when you try to reflect. Begin with a firm handshake, make eye contact, and smile! Throughout the interview, be aware of nervous fidgeting you may do and try to channel that energy into confidence. With each question, answer honestly and confidently. Feel free to refer to your resume to remember accomplishments you would like to draw attention to. If offered a glass of water, don’t feel like you have to say no! This glass of water can be a good excuse for you to pause before speaking. It is much better to pause, take a sip of water, and collect your thoughts before responding to a question, rather than blurting out what you think the interviewer expects to hear.
- Thank you notes
These are a great way to set yourself apart! In an age where technology is dominant, hand written thank you notes are an unfortunate rarity. As soon as you complete your interview (and your nerves settle), write a brief note thanking each interviewer for their time and mail them ASAP. This is guaranteed to set you apart from the other interviewees.
Remember, it is always best to be over prepared. If you need more support or information, the Appalachian State University Career Development Center and the University Writing Center provide further resources.