Roman philosopher Seneca wrote, "Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity." Take that hint and prepare ceaselessly before your interview; research the company, choose a snazzy outfit, role-play with a mentor and ask for tips on your presentation. You'll be your own lucky charm during the interview, because you'll be ready for anything.
Do Your Homework
Before going on an interview, research the company you’ll be -- hopefully -- joining. Find out what products and services they offer, how long they’ve been in business and the history of the organization. Investigate its reputation among customers and other businesses. Look up its mission statement and company philosophy. Look up the position you’ll be interviewing for, and find out how your role will fit into the overall company structure. If the interviewer asks -- and she probably will -- “Why do you want to work here?” or “How do you see yourself fitting in with us?,” you should have an answer prepared that is based upon your impressive knowledge of the company.
Update Your Resume
Even though your interviewer will likely have a copy of your resume, it's a good idea to bring an updated version to your interview. Print at least three copies, in case you’ll be meeting with more than one person, or if your interviewer needs to pass your info to colleagues. Know your resume backward and forward, since you’ll likely be asked to elaborate on educational and professional experiences. Don’t carry the resume copies in your hand; keep them in a professional-looking folder, binder or briefcase.
Prepare Your Answers
Brainstorm possible questions and impressive answers before the interview. Common interview questions include, “Why should I hire you?” “Why do you want to work in this industry?” “What made you choose this company?” “Where do you see yourself in five years?” “How do you handle multitasking?” “Why did you leave your last job?” and, “What would a former employer say about you?” You might also be called to discuss how you handle challenges in the workplace and how you resolve conflicts. You’ll also likely be asked to talk about previous achievements and to provide anecdotes about leadership and taking initiative. Practice mock interviews with friends and family to prepare. Also, practice your interview presence and posture. You should be engaged and alert, sitting up and leaning slightly forward. Make eye contact, smile, and give a firm handshake.
Select Your Questions
Keep in mind that an interview goes two ways. Have your own questions prepared to show that you’ve thought about the job and that you’re interested in the position. Your questions might include, “What would an average day look like if I worked here?” “How do you think I would fit in here?” “What’s the hardest part about this job?” “Do you promote from within?” and, “How has your experience been working here?”
Finalize Your Look
Choose and try on your outfit the day before the interview, so there are no surprises while you’re getting dressed. If your pencil skirt is too tight or your shirt is stained and missing a button, you should know before-hand. Iron and lay out your clothes, including your shoes, purse and briefcase, and have an idea about how you’re going to wear your hair.
Map Your Route
Before your interview, find out exactly where you’re going, how to get there, and how long it will take. Punctuality plays a huge role in making a good impression. Plan ahead so you don’t get lost, or aren’t made late by slow traffic or unexpected construction detours.
On the day of the interview, give yourself enough time to get dressed at a leisurely pace, and eat a light, nutritious breakfast. Don’t drink anything heavily caffeinated or eat a large, heavy meal, since you don’t want to feel jittery or sluggish. Arrive at the interview early enough to check in and use the bathroom, and check your appearance one last time.
Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.