Interviews can be super stressful because you never know what to expect, but there are definitely ways to prepare yourself and calm your nerves. I myself have been on my fair share of interviews and with each one I feel more and more confident. This week I am going to share with you some interview tips that I swear by! -Emily, BeSpoken Media PR Intern
Do your research.
I always like to go into an interview feeling like I know a decent amount about the company I am interviewing with and the people who are interviewing me. Luckily we are in the 21st century, so it's not too hard to surf the net' and find out everything from a company's current clients to where the managers went to college. You'll come off as very prepared during your interview if you don't need to have the full company background explained to you, because you already know it.
Test yourself with sample questions.
The most nerve-wracking thing about interviews is worrying that you will struggle to answer a question. Spend some time writing out sample questions that seem relevant to the position you are interviewing for and the company. Then, practice answering those questions. Of course, these exact questions might not be asked in your actual interview, but this practice will help you get your mind rolling, and you'll have some potential answers prepared in your head. Additionally, after interviewing, it's good to write down the questions you were asked and keep them on file to practice moving forward. You never know when those questions could be asked in future interviews.
Dress professionally, but comfortably.
It's better to be over-dressed than under-dressed for an interview. Dress professionally, but wear clothes that are comfortable. This is not the time to break in your new stilettos that you might end up tripping over.
Leave lots of travel time and arrive early.
Since you may have never been to the location of your interview before, make sure you look up directions and leave lots of extra travel time to get there. Don't walk into your interview super early though (about 10 minutes early is appropriate) so just wait in your car or walk around outside if you are extremely early. Here's a fun fact: on my way to my interview with BeSpoken Media PR, I got into a car accident! Someone rear-ended me, but even with the time it took to handle that situation, I still made it in time and was not late.
Always bring extra resumes and cover letters.
Do not go into an interview without extra copies! Don't assume that those interviewing you will have a copy with them to look at. I always like to laminate the resumes I bring to interviews—it keeps them nice and tidy and looks professional.
Bring a notebook and pen with you and take notes. You are not only there to introduce yourself, but also to learn more about the company and the position. Obviously you don't want to be scribbling away the entire time, but don't be afraid to jot down a few important notes you'll want to remember.
Bring a water bottle.
For obvious reasons...in case you feel parched!
Do not accept offers of coffee or food!
I repeat...do not! Many times when you go to an interview, you may be offered coffee or snacks. While this is a nice offer (who doesn't like free things) it's a bad idea to accept. For one thing, eating during your interview is a no-no, and two, you risk spilling all over yourself...which will make for an awkward situation! Just say no!
When you're nervous you probably tend to speak quickly, but try your best to slow your speed and speak clearly. Before answering a question, it's okay to take a moment to process your thoughts...but don't think for too long.
It's always a good idea to prepare questions ahead of time that you can ask at the end of your interview, you know, so you don't have that awkward silence when the people interviewing you ask if you have anything to ask them. Prepare questions based on the research you have done on the company. I always like to ask about 2-3 questions. Not only will this help you learn more about the company and position, but you will seem more interested and eager too.
Always shake hands on your way out the door and thank everyone for their time.
Send thank you notes!
ALWAYS send thank you notes to those who interviewed you! I like to send physical notes (you know, through snail-mail) but if you don't have a mailing address for the individuals who met with you, email will do. Make sure to be timely about this. Send your notes out immediately after your interview...no more than a day after!