Every year around this time I interview and hear from a number of college and graduate students looking toward (fearing?) spring and summer graduations asking for resume and interviewing tips. It’s time for these students to land a, perhaps their first, “real job.” Oooph, I sound like an old lady. Leaving my age out of it, the time of year seems appropriate to answer some interviewing-related Frequently Asked Questions.
What should I wear to an interview?
A business suit. Look sharp. Do your hair. Look your best.
What if the company has a casual dress environment; they wear jeans every day?
A business suit. Look sharp. Comb your hair. Look your best. A business suit is always best for an interview.
My interview is over a lunch; what should I order?
Try to stay away with splash-prone foods like soup or spaghetti. I also recommend staying away from foods you eat with your hands like sandwiches because they can fall apart on you. Basically seek to minimize mess. I also recommend following suit with your interviewer. For example, when I interviewed with Impact Advisors, the interviewers I met with ordered steak salads and Diet Cokes, therefore, I did, too.
If my interview is over dinner, should I get a drink?
I would say no and no even if your interviewer orders a drink. Better safe than sorry.
What kind of questions should I expect?
Well, this is tough one to answer because it will depend on who a student or candidate is interviewing with; however I always recommend knowing your resume in and out. Make sure you know what project every single bullet point on your resume is referencing. If an interviewer reads you a line from your resume and you can’t remember what it’s about, you’re probably doomed.
I also recommend always being prepared for situational-based interview questions. These are questions such as, “tell me about a time you experienced a challenge on a project and how did you overcome it?” Questions like this are designed to ask you to think on your feet, review a situation, and assess how you as a potential employee will behave, too.
Should I send a thank you note? In what format?
Yes! Definitely send a note to thank your interviewers. I used to say that candidates should send a hand-written thank you note; however I’m now a believer in email thank you notes. In today’s virtual world, you may have a video interview with someone in Orlando of all places. Therefore, an email will surely get to your interviewer faster than mail. It also shows initiative and that thanking the interviewer was your top priority after the interview wraps.
When should I follow up if I don’t hear from the company right away?
I suggest a candidate follow-up after one week with their recruiter(s) if s/he hasn’t heard any news before then. Start with an email inquiring about feedback and then follow-up with a call a day later.
Good luck, soon-to-be graduates!