Your first interview is a pivotal point in your career, likely full of excitement and a touch of anxiety. Whether it’s a new job, education program or position, interviews can set you up for success or failure. There is no fool proof formula for interview success, but here are a few things to keep in mind. Try any (or all) of these tips next time you are called in for a first round of interviews.
Obviously arriving late is never a good idea, but too early can also be negative for many prospective employers. Many work places have a very small waiting areas, so arriving too early causes crowding or awkward situations in which you are sitting with your competition or your interviewer before your scheduled time. Arriving 5 minutes early shows punctuality, while still showing the consideration of keeping a schedule.
Image is extremely important when applying for a job. Make sure to dress appropriately in clothes that are clean, ironed, well fitted, professional, and age appropriate. You only have one chance to make a good first impression so make sure you are looking your best. Keep in mind comfort as well. The last thing you want is to be constantly adjusting a stiff collar or just appearing awkward in an outfit you’re uncomfortable in.
A light, somewhat neutral, perfume or cologne is typically fine, but use caution. You do want to smell clean and fresh in a potentially small interview setting, but be careful not to overpower your potential future employer with too many strong scents. Keep makeup down to a minimum as well. They want to get to know you, not a version of you.
Potential employers appreciate a candidate who has done research on the company and who are familiar with what they specialize in. Be prepared to answer why you wish to work for the company and what skills and assets you would bring if hired. Knowing basic information beforehand will show that you are interested, and can be a feather in your cap when the decision to hire comes to a head.
Most interviewers will ask you if you have any questions. Think of a few ahead of time so you can initiate some conversation. Typically interviewers want the interview to go both ways, rather than simply remaining one-sided. Ask about the future of the company and why the position needs to be filled as well.
Even if you've already sent in important papers such as a resume, portfolio, or references, bring along an extra copy. This is a good idea in case your potential employer has misplaced or forgotten them. Often, there are many different candidates, and having all your information on hand can help remind them who you are, and highlight your organization skills. Your resume should also make note of any educational awards or accomplishments, like completing a Rutgers online program or graduating cum laude so they know you have the right knowledge and background. Remember to bring a pen and small pad of paper to write down any important information.
While most people would probably not bring a bag of chips or a donut into an interview, it may be tempting to bring in a coffee. Resist the temptation. Your job at an interview is to sell yourself as the best candidate for a position. Bringing along a coffee or snack may make you appear too casual. If you think you will need it, bring a small bottle of water and tuck it away in a purse or briefcase.
Do your research, be prepared, and put your best self forward. After doing all of these things, simply relax. You'll have a great first interview, and before long you will find the perfect employment opportunity!
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.