The Interview

1/2   in the series Landing the Job

Ah, the interview process. For many, its a cause of nervous nail-biting and sleepless nights, but it doesn't have to be that way for you. Here's a recent (2010) graduate's guide to landing that elusive job.

Who says you can't fake it?

When I was a part-time karate instructor in high school, we had a saying: "fake it until you make it." What we meant was, if you were nervous about getting up in front of your class, you pretended you weren't. If you've just had a horrible day at school, and now you've got to teach two back to back classes of 3- and 4-years-olds, put on a smile. Eventually, behind that mask, you'll start to feel happy or at least less nervous. So fake confidence until you feel confident.

Do some research

A little bit of knowledge goes a long way. It doesn't take very long to peruse the prospective company's website, glean a few facts and then drop them casually during the interview. This will show the employer that you're interested and engaged. Of course this may make you some enemies--namely, the other interviewees--but you'll be sure to stand out. This brings me to another point:

Ask questions

A good portion of the interview day will probably be spent in an informational session where someone from the company will lecture the interviewees about the history and climate of the company. I can guarantee most of the room will be dozing off at some point, but this is the perfect opportunity to make yourself memorable. Rise above the sea of nodding heads by asking about something you read on their website, or commenting on a bit of relevant news--this is where your due diligence shines. After the interview, it's typical for the interviewer to ask as a closing statement if you have any questions for them. This is your chance to address any remaining burning questions you have in a one-on-one setting with a current employee. Even if there's nothing imperative you'd like to know, it's a good idea to have a stock list in your head, just to show the interviewer that you haven't mentally checked out yet. Things like: "What are the day-to-day activities of the job? What is the average employee age in the department? How many women do you employ?" are good starters.

Follow up

Before you leave the interview, remember to ask for business cards or contact information from your interviewers. A short email thanking them for their time is an easy courtesy that may put you a step above the competition. And lastly, never forget that the company's trying to impress you just as much as you're trying to impress them. It's a two way street--they're trying to find a good fit because happy employees are productive employees. You'll both get a lot more out of the situation if you're honest about what you're looking for.

Do you have tips to share about the interview process?


May's picture

Very good article! Along the lines of preparation, since most employers these days do ask some sort of behavior question, take a little bit of time before your interview to prepare an example or two where you have demonstrated your abilities to: work in teams, get things done and solve problems. Jacyln has also highlighted an important point - the info session or any opportunity to meet the company reps. Those are your opportunities to get a gauge on what the company is like and whether the company culture is a good fit for you. Good luck and remember to be yourself!