It’s summertime! Stressful finals have ended and perhaps you’ve gotten your grades back now and realized Yay! you passed your brutal classes this semester. Now, the living is easy!… Or until that moment when you get the phone call or email from an employer saying they’d like to schedule an interview with you. Excitement rushes in your heart, eyes grow wide, and you take a big gulp. No need to fear! This is fantastic, they loved your résumé and cover letter and now they just want to get to know you better. Whether you’re seeking your dream job or an internship, this opportunity will allow you to enhance or learn new skills specific for your desired profession. Also, this is the prime time to network! We’ve all heard people say, “It’s all about who you know in this business.” For some work fields this is true and what better of a chance for you to build relationships with employers than by dazzling them during your internship! Better yet let’s start the dazzling right as you walk through the doors into your interview. I know it’s scary and believe me I have done a lot of interviews and I still get shaky to the bones. Here are my tips for how to become a pro at interviews. Let’s start with attire!
- Keep it appropriate. The one thing you can control during an interview is a wardrobe malfunction. Don’t let too short of a skirt or dress send off the wrong impression. Being a tall girl myself I know the struggle in finding a knee-length dress or skirt. All I can say is if you can’t find anything that covers your knees find the closest thing to it. Or perhaps a pantsuit? Hey, they are starting to come back in style now! When it comes to your upper half, consider a blazer. Blazers are fantastic because they immediately turn any outfit into professional work-wear. These jackets can go over a dress, pair it with a skirt, or pants. Overall, you should dress comfortably and appropriate for your company. Applying for Disney? Consider dressing more happy, bright, and colorful. A law firm? Dress classy, neutral colors, darker, and more sophisticated. Keep in mind professional is always going to look best. I recommend clothes with little-to-no patterns on them. Yay solids!
- Shoes. I always like a nude heel or wedge. Nothing too high, preferably something you have broken in and feel 100% comfortable walking around in. I like heels because I think when they are the right height (1-3 inches) they are very slimming. That doesn’t mean a cute, simple ballet flat wouldn’t be a better fit for you and your outfit choice. This is one area where I typically shy away from bright colors regardless of the job. You want your employers attention on your face not your feet.
- Jewelry. Two words: simple and classy. When it comes to the jewels I believe in simple studs or pearls for almost every interview. One time I was in an interview and I wore simple, long, dangle earrings. Afterward the person interviewing me told me that while I was talking my earrings keeps swinging around and they caused a huge distraction. Oops! Save those fun jewels for a night out on the town. Some people have asked me about other piercings and what to do with them for an interview. My thoughts on this is to just take them out. Nose or any other ear piercings should come out for the first meeting/interview. Put your best self out there! As for other jewelry you may want to think twice before putting on your big rings. As you go to shake hands you may end up hurting the other person. One last note on jewelry, if you have a watch you should wear it because I think watches are great accessories for interviews.
- Smile! Your greatest accessory…smiling! You truly are never fully dressed without one.
Let’s move on to some other tips!
- Eye contact. This may be the most important piece of advice. Many employers know you’re uncomfortable if you shy away from eye contact. I believe that if you want to come across confident then try to get in the habit of doing this. It will also make the other person feel more comfortable, invited, and feeling special when you give them this kind of attention.
- Show up 5 minutes early. I think 10 minutes is too early, but anywhere in between is perfect. Punctuality shows professionalism. Never be late. Map out your destination a head of time.
- Bring your updated Resume. Always bring an extra copy of your most recent resume to your interview. I also like to bring a notebook and pen with some questions already written. 99% of the time at the end of every interview they ask if you have any questions for them. While working at my school’s Office of Career Services they taught me how important it is to never answer no to this part of the interview. Try and seem interested in the company and find at least two questions to ask. (Probably not a good one: how much will I be getting paid?) (A good one could be: What is this company’s vision for the future? Where would you like to see this company grow?)
- Know a little about the company. Check out the company’s website. What’s their mission? How did they get started? If there is any job description, know the key words. (aka..what skills they are looking for in an employee)
- Don’t say Ummm… Refrain from saying the words um, uh, you know, and like. My advice is to talk slower. Think before you speak. It’s okay if you don’t have rapid fire responses to their questions. Also, practice! This can be done in front of a mirror, with a family member or friend, or video tape yourself. When I video taped myself it was really helpful because I learned that I like to talk with my hands, so now that is something for me to be aware of.
Well I hope this helped you out! Feel free to send me pictures of outfit ideas if you are struggling with what to wear or any other questions and I can help you out because after working with my school’s Office of Career Services we talked a lot about the importance of this.