College is so important—but why? Not only do you cultivate a variety of life skills when you’re at school, but you’re attending classes, doing projects, completing homework, and learning invaluable expertise that will give you the mastery and competence of your chosen academic path. Going to school gives you the know-how to operate in the real world, and someday, land the career you’ve been working toward all these years.
One skill that’s indispensable when it comes to taking your first steps as an adult in the real world is the art of preparing for a job interview. There’s a lot that goes into interviewing for a job, and the whole process can seem incredibly nerve-wracking at first. However, with a bit of preparation, you can walk into your interview with confidence, answer questions succinctly, and (hopefully) land the job.
We’ve put together a list of tips to help you with your planning and prepping. Read them carefully, as interviewing for a job is not simply answering a bunch of questions.
1. Make sure you dress appropriately
While you may have heard that it’s key that you dress up for an interview, make sure you also dress appropriately for the work culture. A low-cut shirt or neon green shoes might not be the best option for your interview.
It’s also important to do a little research and try your best to find out what the dress code looks like on a regular basis. If your interviewing at a design firm, and everyone wears jeans to work Monday through Friday, you’ll probably still want to dress things up a little, but you don’t need to go full out suit and tie. Conversely, if the everyday dress code is business casual, you’ll definitely want to dress more formally and keep things professional and conservative. Planning your outfit out ahead of time will do a lot for easing the nerves—you’ll avoid the scenario where you rush around your dorm room thirty minutes before your interview, trying to find a pair of pantyhose that don’t have holes in them.
2. Research the company
There’s nothing worse than an interviewee who shows up and doesn’t know anything about the company they’re interviewing at. Not only does this communicate that you don’t actually care about the place you’re trying to get a job at, but it shows that you didn’t take the time to research and prepare.
Find out what the company’s mission and vision is and write down why it appeals to you, so you can communicate that verbally when the time comes. It’s also important to research those you’ll be working with—particularly the leadership. You don’t want to come across creepy, of course, but taking a look at the LinkedIn profiles of those who are leading the company or those who might be in supervisory roles to you is a smart move.
3. Practice, practice, practice
If you Google “popular interview questions,” you’ll immediately find a slew of potential questions that your interviewer might ask you. Go through each question thoughtfully, and type out how you would answer the question. Then practice verbally answering the questions—don’t worry about feeling silly! You can say them to yourself or have a friend ask you the questions. It’s important that you reach a place where you can communicate your thoughts well, even if you’re feeling a little nervous during the actual interview.
Of course, you don’t want to sound like a robot, so feel free to improvise if need be. However, prepping your answers ahead of time will help them roll of the tongue—even if you’re feeling a bit jittery.
4. Have extra copies of your resume and bring your portfolio
Make sure you print extra copies of your resume, in case those at your interview need a copy. You’ll also want to bring along any relevant work that pertains to the job. Do you have writing samples you need to present? Artwork from classes? A business card with your website on it? Remember, the person interviewing you probably has a busy day to attend to, and they might not have the chance to print off all your information and work prior to the interview.
Even if you don’t end up using these extra pieces, you’ll feel extra confident walking into your interview knowing that you’re prepared on all fronts.