Even before you graduate from your Chicago career training program, you’ll probably start collecting recommendations, making calls to employers, and sending out your cover letters and resumes. You may even land you a few interviews in that time. How you conduct yourself in the interview, though, can make or break a contract.
1) Clean and put-together appearance. One guideline you can safely use in any interview is to come bathed and nicely dressed. You should NEVER wear jeans to an interview. Even if you know the office is casual. Proper grooming demonstrates to employers that you take both yourself and this interview seriously, which translates into taking your work seriously.
2) Strong introduction. When you introduce yourself to your interviewer, shake hands firmly (but not in a death-grip!), make eye contact, and smile. This should be fairly intuitive, but if you are feeling nervous about it, you should practice with a friend. The first impression is formed within 3-5 seconds of meeting someone new, so between your appearance and introduction, it’s already set in place and either working for or against you.
3) Talk 50% and ask questions. The most successful interviews usually occur when the interviewee talks about 50% of the time and answers questions in under 2 minutes per question. If you dominate the discussion or draw out answers for too long, you may present yourself as self-centered or otherwise difficult to work with. If you talk too little and answer too briefly, it may seem as though you are inept or insecure, which is not ideal for collaborative environments. In other words, you should feel a healthy exchange with the interviewer. Also, come prepared with questions about the exact nature of the work, the working environment, etc. Asking questions doesn’t waste the interviewer’s time, but rather demonstrates your own interest in the position.
4) Make eye contact and use assured body language. Your body language will tell an interviewer a lot about yourself. More and more interviewers are being instructed to pay greater attention to it for this reason, so it’s especially important that you are aware of what you’re projecting. First of all, make eye contact when listening and answering. If there are multiple interviewers, make sure you transfer your gaze occasionally so you’re connecting with all of them. Don’t force constant contact, though. It’s perfectly natural to glance away when thinking. Just avoid extremes — don’t stare at the interviewer or let your eyes wander for too long. Also, keep fidgeting and worrying hems to a minimum. Your nervousness in the interview may be read as uncertainty, insecurity, or boredom.
5) Send a thank you letter afterward. If there is one vital yet constantly overlooked career document missing from job applications, it is the post-interview thank you note. The note is more than just a courtesy; it is the bow on your professionalism package. A note seals the image you want to project to a company of being a conscientious individual who knows how to play the game. Take the note card and a prepared envelope (with the name of the interviewer, company address, and a stamp) with you to the interview. Immediately afterward, write a brief thank you for the opportunity, a few lines about anything noteworthy that was covered in the interview, and a final statement on how you could contribute to the company. Send it right then so it will get there in a couple days.
Above all you should remember that if a business has invited you for an interview, they already want to hire you. All you have to do is make the closing sale. You should already have done your research on the company beforehand, so you should know roughly what you’re getting into. Use the interview to gauge whether or not the environment is right for you, as your interviewer will be using this time to gauge whether you are right for their environment.