We all know the feeling of excitement when we get invited for an interview, then immediate dread when we realize we have to actually do the interview. Interviews are scary, but there are guidelines that will increase your chances of getting a job offer. We’ve created this cheat sheet to make sure you have the basic do’s and don’ts on hand.
Disclaimer for readers: All advice in this cheat sheet is based on our professional experience and current online resources. You are welcome to use it but keep your own personal context and needs in mind. There is no rulebook, only informed advice.
How to Interview (Preparation and post-interview steps)
Before the Interview (Recommended 2-5 days before interview)
1. RESEARCH THE COMPANY!!!
Do a quick Google search or skim the Glassdoor reviews and see if you are a match for the company. Here are some suggestions on what to research:
- What products do they make?
- Where are their offices?
- What does their company culture look like? (and you can easily find this by doing a quick youtube search or checking out their social media)
- Read thoroughly on the mission and values of the company to see if it aligns with what you want
“Interviewers are looking for people who will create value for the company while being fun to work with.” – Parth Detroja
2. Look up the directions and know your travel itinerary if in-office interview so you’re not late. Try to Arrive 15 minutes early.
- For phone/online interviews: make sure your tech works and you’re in a quiet environment where you won’t be disturbed. Give yourself at least 15-30 minutes to get yourself in the interview mindset.
- Have your resume right next to you or on your laptop, because the hiring manager calling you will most likely have your resume in front of them while they interview you.
3. Think of how YOU can BENEFIT the company, instead of what you can learn/gain from the company (advice from my Public Relations Writing professor at the University of San Francisco)
- This is how you would want to tailor your cover letter!
- Answer the questions, “How do I contribute/add value to the company?” and “How can I make my supervisors life easier?” This is where you incorporate your experiences and how you can apply it to the position you are interviewing for
- “Interviewers are looking for people who will create value for the company while being fun to work with.” – Parth Detroja
4. Hiring managers/interviewers will ask you a question similar to, “tell me about yourself”
- Prepare several stories where you felt most proud of yourself and be ready to articulate overcoming the challenges, your process and the results
5. Learn about the company and product
- Even if you don’t fully understand the product/company, try your best to articulate it because it shows you are willing to learn
6. Prepare questions to ask the hiring manager/interviewer → THIS SHOWS ENGAGEMENT AND YOUR INVESTMENT IN THE COMPANY. Examples are below:
- What do you like most about your job and the company?
- Can you describe the workplace culture? What makes a good fit?
- Could you describe the ideal candidate for this position?
Day of the Interview (Congratulations!!!)
WHAT TO BRING TO YOUR INTERVIEW:
- Questions or idea you prepared
- Bring your several resumes in hard copy (just in case there are multiple interviewers)
- Bring a paper notebook and pens to take notes!
- Writing samples, projects or anything you’ve done that you want to display!E.g. If you are applying for a creative role, be sure to have a portfolio on hand!
- Bring mints, water, deodorant, hand sanitizer and anything you need to look fresh
- For all the corny people reading this, you can also bring your BIGGEST SMILE 😀
“My heartfelt plea to young students and professionals in 2018 is this: Stop trying to get your foot in the door. While you’re busy trying to get your foot in the door, someone else is preparing to command the room.” – Joy Ofodu
During the Interview
- Appear confident and control your body language
- Ask questions at the end of the interview to make yourself stand out from other candidates!
- Ask about the interviewer. People love talking about themselves.
- A good closing question if you feel like the interview went well is, “What are the next steps in the application process?”
- LEAVE AN IMPRESSION by pitching an idea to the company! (suggested by Parth Detroja)
- “My heartfelt plea to young students and professionals in 2018 is this: Stop trying to get your foot in the door. While you’re busy trying to get your foot in the door, someone else is preparing to command the room.” – Joy Ofodu “Prepare. Research. Create. And then stride into the room.”
Post-Interview (ASAP; this is not dating, so don’t wait a day or two!!!)
- SEND FOLLOW-UP EMAILS
- “I’d also recommend always asking for the business card or email address of the interviewer. This allows you to send your interviewer a thank you message after the interview.” – Parth Detroja