Mazel Tov. You’ve done it. You landed an interview at the company you’ve been stalking for months!
As exciting as getting an interview is, you need to realize that there is still a lot of work to do before you land your dream job. There are other candidates who are just as excited and eager to get started as you are. So what can you do to differentiate yourself? Plenty.
Stay Calm – Easier said than done, right? Think of it like this…you wouldn’t have gotten the interview if they didn’t think you were qualified. Interviewers are expecting some nerves, but try to make it as conversational as possible. The truth is, they brought you in to get a sense of your personality and make sure you aren’t a weirdo. Culture and environment are very important to companies and sometimes are the most important part.
Do your research – What has the company been up too lately? Have they been in the news? Has the agency won any recent awards or gained any new accounts? What is it about the company that really excites you? It’s good to write down a few reasons why the company attracts you and know them. It’s great if you can show the person interviewing that you are really trying to sink your teeth into the company.
Dress to Impress – This goes without saying. Right? You only get one first impression. One. People say it isn’t a big deal, but don’t listen to them. We are programmed to judge people and make assumptions. If you show up looking sloppy or a little to provocative, that will be your impression going up against someone in a suit and looking professional. Studies show that shoes are major factor. Guys, remember to shine your shoes and ladies, no open toes – not for your interview.
Ask questions – This isn’t a one way interview. Sure, you are technically the candidate, but remember, you’re awesome…you don’t have to take every single job offer. There will be another out there. You need to make sure this place is for you. Are there growth opportunities? What’s the culture like? A good question to ask is, “What piece of information do you wish you knew when you started that you know now?” Try to ask questions that go along with the conversation. Ask what you can expect a typical day to be like. I use to write a few questions down before the interview, so I knew I had some incase I needed them.
Follow Up – So you think you nailed the interview. Now what do you do? In school I was always told to send two follow up messages. You send an email to the person that night thanking him or her for taking time out of their day. The next day you drop a thank you card in the mail. Yeah, you read that. Snail mail. Whether people will admit it or not, we love receiving physical mail. With my job, I sent everyone I met with, a nice Papyrus card. A few months after being hired, we were interviewing someone for an open position and I brought up my cards. I asked if they ever got them and one of my colleagues told me to hold on and began rummaging through her draw. She then pulled out my Papyrus card and said, “When we got these, we were like ‘Who the hell sends Papyrus thank you cards?’” I looked at her and said, “the guy who got the job,” with a smile on my face.
These are some of the tips I found most useful when preparing for interviews and I hope you find them useful as well. Just be relaxed, do your research, dress well, ask questions and send a follow up. Oh yeah…one more thing…don’t forget to breathe.