As we prepare for our 2020 Student360 event, many of you have expressed interest in the mock interviews that we offer as part of this annual event. Mock interviews are a great way to work on your interview skills in an informal setting, getting you ready for the day of official job interviews. In addition, as you prepare for those real-word interviews, here are our tips for making lasting impressions during the interview process.
1. Do your research
The job title and position you’re interviewing for may be right up your alley, but is the company also in line with your values and what you are looking for? Research not only the company but those that will be a part of your interview process. Use Google, spend time on the organization’s website, check out LinkedIn profiles and pages—all of this will help you get a sense of the culture as well as the company’s focus, key products and current initiatives.
2. Dress appropriately
Is the company business casual? Full business attire? Super casual? Think about how you want to present yourself—from clothes, to hair to piercings or tattoos. Pick out your outfit the night before so that you don’t have to spend time or get flustered trying to figure out the perfect apparel for the day of your interview.
3. Be on time
Ever hear the saying, “If you’re on time, you’re late?” Plan ahead to account for traffic, parking, walking into the building or navigating elevators so that you arrive a little earlier than your scheduled interview time. Ask clarifying questions for directions if you’ll be going to a location you’ve never been before. Add the contact information (preferably a phone number) for the person you will interview with in your phone just in case—if you do happen to get lost or are stuck in unforeseen traffic, be sure to call the person you are scheduled to meet with and give them a heads up.
4. Prepare your answers
Review some common interview questions prior to your interview. Think about your answers and how you wish to talk about your accomplishments. Review the job description and map your skills to those that are listed on the description.
5. Bring questions
In doing your research, write down 2-4 questions you have about the company or the position itself. Even if the questions end up being covered during your interview, you can look back to them and mention that you had that question written down and are thankful that the person you met with covered the particulars. Don’t be afraid to ask questions during the process, even if they are not prepared. If you are unsure about something, ask for more clarification. This shows you have initiative and are not afraid to ask questions and learn.
6. Prepare a story or two
Think about your achievements and what you are proud of in your work. From there, think of a few ways you can iterate those ideas in more of a story form—something that will make you stand out and shows you are able to express your ideas in succinct ways. Even if this is an interview for your first job, you can still prepare stories and examples from classroom projects, volunteer activities or team leadership roles you’ve fulfilled.
7. Send a thank you
The jury is out on whether a thank you email will suffice or if you should send a thank you card in the mail. The pros for sending a thank you email is that you can do so right away and then sender will receive it, likely, before they make a decision on who they will offer the position to. The downside is that it could get lost in their inbox or be seen as a pretty casual way to express interest in a position.
Hand-written or mailed thank you cards can leave a lasting impression as they are not always typical. This is a great way to stand out among your peers. The downside? If the position is on the fast-track to being filled, you need to ensure that the card gets to the right person right away which can sometimes be tricky, especially if it’s a large organization.
In doing your research and in talking with the person conducting the interview, you may also get a sense of which form of thank you would be most appropriate. Regardless of the type, do send a thank you in appreciation of their time. A good rule of thumb is to send the thank you note out within 24 hours of the interview. Here’s a template to get you started.
8. Follow up
During the interview process, it’s likely that the person you are speaking with will give you insight into next steps and timelines. Don’t be afraid to take initiative and follow up with the person you spoke with if you don’t hear from them within the time period they mentioned. A brief phone call or email to express that you are still interested in the position and would like to talk about next steps puts your name at the top of their list.
Looking for more career-building advice? Join us for Student360 on January 31, 2020 as we spend the day at Target’s Northern Campus. Use your interview skills during mock interviews with our recruiting sponsors and network with top companies in the cybersecurity and risk-management industry looking to hire talent. Registration is now open with early bird pricing through December 6, 2019.