Sarah Dickerson is a recent graduate of Wellesley College living in Boston, MA. She has written for other online publications including Girl’s Guide to Paris, Café Abroad, and Artspace Marketplace. She currently works at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
1. Research the company. You will be asked direct and indirect questions that relate to the company’s goals or mission statement and need to have a basic understanding of what the interviewers are looking for before you enter the room.
2. The first impression. Dress nicely, and if in doubt about the personality of the company you’re interviewing for, dress conservatively. Make eye contact, smile, and say, “Nice to meet you” to everyone you meet at the company. Project confidence, and project your favorite parts of your personality. If you’re in a position to be picky, you want to make sure you’re interviewing the company too by making sure they accept you and respect you. This is often taken for granted until it’s too late.
3. Stay alert. Before, after, and even during interviews, employers are introducing the latest trends and tricks to filter through candidates. If you are surprised with an Excel test, a personality questionnaire, or another application to fill out on-site, stop to think before you start freaking out. Before beginning any of these seemingly arbitrary tasks, seriously assess what you think the company is looking for. If testing specific technology, are they looking for a certain skill set, or the ability to learn new programs? Would they care about what you’re writing on a redundant application, or are they testing the legibility of your handwriting and your ability to avoid simple grammatical errors? Keep your cool and stay confident in your abilities.
4. Nontraditional interviews. If invited for a telephone interview, make sure to plan for the interview as if it were in-person. Make sure your phone is fully-charged and you are in a peaceful and quiet environment. While talking, make sure you have a glass of water in-hand in case your throat gets hoarse. Pay attention to the inflection of your voice and don’t raise your voice at the end of sentences; it will automatically make you sound unsure. Also, smile while you are speaking and laugh when appropriate to show that you’re attentive and engaged. All of the following also apply to the rare video interview, in which case you also need to focus on your appearance and the appearance of the room in which you’re interviewing.
5. Send a thank you note. Make it brief, but reiterate your interest in the position and address what specifically appealed to you in the interview. In the digital age, there is a debate over whether a physical thank-you card should be sent out or if a simple thank-you e-mail suffices. As previously stated, you can’t really be penalized for keeping it conservative and going with the traditional, brief, hand-written note, but either way it is vital that you send a thank-you. There are employers out there, including the director of my department, who will not hire someone if they do not send a thank-you card. Also, a friend of mine was told she stood out as a candidate because she sent thank-you notes to the entire department and not just the hiring manager.
6. Follow-up. If you haven’t heard back from a prospective employer, it does not hurt to follow up and inquire about the status of your candidacy. Following-up underscores your interest in the position and keeps you fresh in an employer’s mind.