Interviews are important and they always have been, but now more than ever it is harder to even get in the door. The employment rate for 18 - 24 year olds is at its lowest point in 60 years, which is a scary thought. What's important is to not let the numbers scare you, let it motivate you. So, to help potential job applicants hone their interview skills we wanted to provide some tips that will help you stand out from the crowd.
1. Be Prepared - Don't go into an interview unprepared. Do your research. Look at their website, find their mission statement, if they are a public company take a look at their quarterly or annual report, all of this information will make you a more informed candidate. It takes time, but it is well worth it.
2. Dress Nicely - Dress to impress. You may be applying to a company that is casual and laid back with their dress code, but it never hurts to be over dressed. Suits can be incredibly affordable, Target for example has nice suits that cost less than $100. Already have khakis and a navy blue blazer that works too (that is actually what I wore to my last job interview and well here I am). You don't want to be the one person who shows up to an interview wearing jeans.
3. Bring Copies of Your Resume & Cover Letter - This is simple, but so many applicants forget to bring copies of their resume and cover letter. It shows you are prepared. Most of the time the interviewer will already have your resume in front of them, but you don't want to miss the opportunity when the say, "Oh I must have misplaced your resume" and you helpfully answer, "No problem I have extra".
4. Ask Questions - Always ask questions. This shows your level of engagement and interest. If you have followed step 1 use what you learned to ask follow up questions. If you really want to be prepared, write out some questions ahead of time. That way if your nervous you won't forget to ask them.
5. Send a Thank You Note (or at least a follow-up email) - Not only is this polite, you don't know how many candidates were interviewed after you, so sending a thank you note or a follow-up email, 24 - 48 hours later, reminds them who you were. (I once worked for a company and an applicant brought back cupcakes to say thank you for the interview, I don't necessarily recommend this, but this is who you could be up against).
6. Be Positive & Up Beat - This may seem cheesy but before you go to the interview look yourself in the mirror and say, "I got this". You spent a lot of time and energy going to school. You know you'll be good at the job you applied for. Don't let a bad attitude or negative thoughts stand in your way.
We hope this helps. Good luck and knock'em dead.