The following is a post from staff writer Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff, where she writes about finding the balance between paying your bills, saving for your future, and budgeting for the fun stuff along the way.
During my last semester of college, I interviewed for four commission-based marketing jobs and one salaried position with benefits. I was actually offered 4 of the 5 positions. Here are the 5 ways I prepared for each interview:
1. Research the Company
If you know the company, you will understand what sort of interview you are shooting for. For commission-based jobs, I knew I needed to stress how competitive I am. I also mentioned how I knew of their products. For the salaried position with a self-proclaimed conservative company, I knew to mention my dream of working for the same company for years and I dressed in the most IBM-ish suit I could find.
2. Know Your Qualifications
For every job, sit down and write out every single thing you ever did or learned that could possibly apply to the position. Then narrow that list down to the top ten and have those written down on the notepad you put in your briefcase/bag. Make sure to work at least five of your top ten into the interview. I was even blunt and explained what I did to a few of the interviewers that asked about my notepad. My prep seemed to impress them a little. Every little bit helps.
I know it seems silly, but have a more experienced friend or family member interview you first. Practice helped me feel a little bit more comfortable being put on the spot. It also helped me work out my answers for all of the cliche questions like “why are you the right person for this job?” or “why should you be hired instead of the other 100 applicants that applied?” I’d also add that you need to practice a solid hand shake. If it’s too soft, it feels wrong. If it’s too hard, it feels aggressive.
4. Dress the Part
I know you shouldn’t be judged on your looks, but you are. I feel the most natural in sweat pants and a funny t-shirt from Shirt Woot, but that wouldn’t help me find a job in the professional world. Whether you shop Macy’s or thrift stores, be sure to take the time to find a professional suit or business ensemble of some sort including the right kind of shoes for whatever position you are going after.
5. Plan the Arrival
I would suggest arriving to every interview at least 10 minutes early. If you are not 100% positive on how long it will take to get there, do a dry run the day before at the same time or allow a bunch of extra time for bad traffic. All of my interviews were 30 minutes or less from my apartment at the time, but I left an hour early every time and simply read a book in my car until I could walk in 15 minutes early.
Readers, can you think of any other great tips for preparing for an interview?