Now that you’ve made it through the education incubation stage of your life, it’s time to get a job in your profession to pay off your student loans. Here’s some helpful advice on how to prepare yourself for interviews:
1. Clean up your social life.
Over the years, you've shared so many great moments of your life and posted the pictures of good times on Facebook and other social sites. Well, potential employers might also access those photos. They may not be as impressed with your capacity to shoot tequila or Irish car bombs, and they may not find the picture of you with your head hunkered in the toilet bowl all that amusing. Clean up your sordid past, friend; Big Brother is watching.
2. Disconnect with technology and connect with humanity.
Leave your cell phone and laptop at home when you go on an interview. If you refuse to do that, then turn them off before entering the office for your appointment. Resist the temptation to check the screens. Interviews are about face time, not Facebook.
3. The human touch.
First impressions are critical. Since most appointments begin with a handshake, you need to make sure that you have a good one. Practice shaking hands with others people. Your shake should not be too limp or cracking-walnuts strong. If your palms sweat, dry them before shaking. When you shake, make eye contact and smile. It sounds simple, but a good handshake, eye contact and a smile will make a great first impression (as will a crisp Benjamin slipped into your interviewer’s palm).
4. Do your homework.
Prepare yourself by researching the company and the people you'll be seeing. Cyber stalk your prey. Dig, and then dig deeper. Know as much as you can about the company and its people, and then prepare some questions for your interviewer.
5. It's a conversation, not an interrogation.
The worst interviewees are the ones who only play defense. The defensive interviewee simply sits and answers the questions that are asked and adds nothing to the conversation. Relax and try to engage in the conversation. A good way to do this is by asking questions about the company and the position you are interviewing to fill.
6. Try not to repeat every question asked.
This technique is good for buying time while you think up an answer, but it's obnoxious. After awhile it’s a dead giveaway that you cannot think on your feet.
7. Relax, be interesting, have fun.
You have 16 years or more of education and a vast pool of knowledge about pop culture and life. It doesn't matter how good you look on paper because people don't hire resumes — they hire people. So be engaging, personable and interesting. If that is hard for you, fake it. Give something back, enjoy yourself and make the interviewer feel good after talking with you.
8. When you share creative work, explain it.
Tell your interviewer the reasons why you did what you did, even if the work speaks for itself. This gives the person an idea of how you think and solve problems. Nothing is created in a vacuum; give your work the appropriate atmosphere and let it breathe.
9. Manners matter.
Anyone who gives you time for an interview deserves a thank you letter. Not an email, not a call, not a Tweet shout-out. He or she needs a physical letter on good bond paper. Be gracious and grateful. Be sincere, and express your interest and enthusiasm in joining the company. It doesn't have to be a long letter, but it should be personal. Even if you don’t land this particular job, you can still make a great impression with your letter, and it might lead to more opportunities down the road.
When you do get hired, celebrate. You deserve it. Just refrain from taking pictures of your drunken escapades and posting them on Facebook. Enjoy the adventure.