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How to Interview Well and Make an Impression

October 2018 By Kim Tang

 

You just submitted your stellar resume (because you totally read our resume post and stopped by drop-in hours) and congratulations! You’ve been called in for an interview! Whether this is your first time or 20th time, here are some tips that will help you ace that interview:

Prepare in Advance

Research the company! You should be comfortable enough to have a conversation about the organization in detail, and while you definitely don’t have to know every little detail about the organization, the more you know, the more prepared you will feel. A good starting place is a company’s website and social media. You can learn a lot about how they brand themselves, their marketing strategy, and corporate culture through the way they present themselves online.

Research some common interview questions as well and think about how your experience can be directly related to the position you’re applying for. You’re bound to be asked in some way shape or form to introduce yourself, why you’re interested in the position, and to talk about your experience, so start thinking about those answers now.

Also, prepare some questions that you can ask at the end of the conversation. Never leave an interview without asking some questions first — again, you want to show you’re interested in the position and are curious about learning more. Here are some common interview questions and questions you can ask at the end of the interview.

Practice

After you research some things about the organization and look up some common interview questions, practice answering those questions out loud! By verbalizing your thoughts, you can organize them better and ensure that your answers are hitting the mark. Whenever possible, use concrete examples from your experience and relate it to the question and company.

For instance, if you’re asked to talk about your strengths, don’t just list them off and stop. Explain why those are your strengths using examples from your experience. 

“My strengths are that I’m highly motivated and organized”

is a weaker response than

“I am highly motivated and organized. On campus, I am a part of Student Government, an Ambassador, and I have made Dean’s List the past three semesters. I strive to push myself towards doing the best I can. Since I’m so involved at TCNJ, it’s important for me to always stay on top of my assignments, deadlines, and projects, so I always keep myself organized using a planner and calendar”.

You can also schedule a mock interview for practice by requesting an appointment with a Career Counselor on Handshake or using the Big Interview.

Plan Your Outfit

First impressions do matter, so it’s important to dress for the occasion! Here are some common guidelines on what to wear for your interview:

  • Suits are encouraged. Neutral colors like black, grey, and navy are always safe options.
  • Things should be looking neat and clean. Iron out any blouses, shirts, jackets, and pants, and make sure there are no stains anywhere.
  • Keep things professional. Pants should be an appropriate length, and blouses should not be low cut. When in doubt, keep your outfit more conservative.

It’s better to be overdressed than underdressed for an interview! You can always make an outfit more casual, but you may find it difficult to dress up an outfit when you’re already at the interview. We have more dress tips located on our Interviews and Job Offers page as well.

Show Up Early and Make a Good Impression

Now that you’ve done your research, practiced some answers out loud, and picked out your outfit, it’s time to go in for the interview! Before you go, bring in about five extra copies of your resume, just in case there are extra people in the room. Bring a portfolio or bag to carry your resumes, and bring along something to write with and on. If you bring a bag, try to limit what’s inside to just the necessities, so you aren’t sifting through all your items to find what you’re looking for.

Show up to the interview on time! And on time means at least 10-15 minutes early. This extra time can give you the chance to freshen up, have some water, collect your thoughts, and calm down. 

When you meet your interviewer or interviewers, say hello and introduce yourself. And be yourself — you’re ready for this!

Pay Attention and Stay Calm

Pay attention to what the interviewer is saying and asking, and make sure you answer the question fully. It’s okay to take some time in considering your answer, and whenever possible, remember to use your experience as examples in your answers.

Feel free to take notes during your interview. You aren’t expected to remember everything, and if during your conversation, something is said that you think is important, jot it down!

Be aware of your body language and eye contact. Interviews can be nerve wracking, but you’re prepared and you know it, so stay calm and relax. Half the battle is confidence, so if you’re confident in yourself, your interviewer will pick up on your attitude and remember that!

Lastly, don’t forget to ask some questions before you go. Not only is this important to show you’re interested in the position, but you should be asking questions that will allow you to learn anything else you may need to know about a company to ensure that you want to work there.

When you leave, remember to say thank you, and ask for business cards or contact info. It’s also fine to ask about the next stages of the interview process if it hasn’t been mentioned before.

Post-Interview and Follow Up

Go treat yourself because you knocked that interview out of the park! Follow up with an email thanking your interviewer for their time. You’ll want to send this email no later than 48 hours after your interview, but the sooner the better. If you took notes or remember anything specific from the interview, personalizing the email will make you stand out compared to other candidates.

And congratulations — you’ve just completed your interview! Best of luck, and here’s to successful interviews and exciting job offers!

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