Pre-interview
  • Research and become familiar with the company
  • Research the position you are applying for
  • Pay attention to the company's mission statement
  • Use certain terms from the website during your interview
  • Come up with a few questions to ask the interviewer once the interview is over to show you've done your research and that you're interested
  • Questions such as: What is a normal day like for you? or for someone hired for my position? What do you like best about the company?
  • Make extra copies of your resume on resume quality paper and have it available during the interview (Office Max or Kinkos can do that)
  • Email your interviewer a day or two prior to confirm your meeting
  • Buy a nice black portfolio to carry copies of your resume and a notepad. Write down the questions you want to ask your interviewer. Also jot down some notes (experiences, examples, strengths/weaknesses, etc.) that you can refer to during the interview if your mind goes blank.

During Interview:
  • Look sharp & professional (facial hair neat and to a minimum)
  • Turn off or completely silence all electronics (no vibrate)
  • Shake interviewer's hand firmly as you introduce yourself (try your best not to have clammy hands)
  • Maintain eye contact with interviewer(s) throughout the meeting
  • Do not slouch in your seat
  • No gum
  • It's okay to wear cologne or perfume, just make sure it's not overpowering
  • Take notes
  • Do not feel the need to eliminate "awkward silence" while the interviewer is writing notes after you answer a question. This is normal. (It is okay to make small talk before the interview begins. Talk about the weather, your drive, something unique you like about the building, etc...just be yourself)
  • It is okay to pause and ask the interviewer for a few moments to think before answering a question. No one expects you to be able to spout answers left and right off the top of your head. Some questions may be rather difficult and will require a few moments of thought. With that being said, you cannot do this for every question asked, and therefore you must be prepared ahead of time for certain questions/types of questions that are common in interviews...

Typical Interview Questions to prepare for:

Be ready for the "typical interview questions"
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses? I'm going to ramble about this one because it's tricky... When answering the weaknesses part, do not say something that might actually hurt your chances of getting the job. For example: if you are applying to work as an engineer, you wouldn't say something like "I really struggle with getting a firm grasp on the concepts of engineering," or "I'm horrible at math" or something like that. But at the same time, don't make the mistake many people make and give an answer where you are trying to brag about yourself in the form of a weakness. Common examples of what not to say are "I'm a perfectionist" or "I just work too hard and can't stop myself." The best answers are the ones where you give a legitimate weakness of yours and then talk about what steps you have taken to improve in this area. For example: "Although I am a strong writer, I feel that I need improvement with my oral communications skills. I have been working to improve these skills through classroom presentations, which is helping me become more comfortable speaking in front of a group of people." Another example would be: "Sometimes I am too trusting of others and often give people the benefit of the doubt when I should not. This has resulted in subordinates trying to take advantage of me. But I have used these experiences to create a trust threshold for myself."
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • Why should we hire you? It's okay to brag about yourself and be a little cocky here. You're trying to sell yourself as better than the competition, so this is your chance to straight-up tell them why you're better than the competition, and what you will bring to the company (subject knowledge, work ethic, etc.)

Also anticipate the behavioral kinds of questions. These are the ones you need to spend a little time thinking about beforehand, because it's often really tough to come up with an answer to these types of questions on the spot when the pressure is on. Write down a list ahead of time of all the experiences you would like to talk about, and then refer to this list during the interview as you formulate your responses.
  • Tell me about a time you had to make a quick decision under stress.
  • Tell me about a time you took a leadership role and how effective you were.
  • Tell me about a time someone made a decision you didn't agree with at a meeting/group. How did you react?
  • Tell me about a time when you were placed on a team and either you or someone on that team didn't see eye-to-eye/had different values than you.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to be tolerant of a coworker's ideas/values.
  • Tell me about a time you failed at something. How did you persevere?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an irate customer.
  • Give an example of a time when you used your greatest strength.

When you answer these kinds of behavioral questions, make sure to use examples from a diverse number of areas in your life, i.e. different jobs you've had, clubs/organizations you were a part of (sports included), social settings (roommates work well), fraternities, trips abroad, church, etc. Companies appreciate a well-rounded diverse applicant.

Post-interview
  • Send a follow-up email to your interviewer(s) expressing pleasure in meeting them and thanking them for their time

Hopefully these tips will help. Above all else, just remember to relax and be yourself. A nice smile and a good sense of humor can go a long way. If these companies wanted to hire robots, I'm sure they could make that happen. Good luck!