The Interview Process: Being Prepared and Being Present

By Lauren Lesniak

You have excellent recommendations and every qualification they are seeking, but you still didn’t get the job. Shocked, you email the hiring manager to find out why you didn’t get it. She kindly explained to you how you were the perfect candidate, except for the fact that your communication skills demonstrated in your interview were lacking.

Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t let an interview destroy your chances of landing your dream job.

It all starts with being prepared and then being present.

Here are a few of my tips on how you can completely rock your interview:

Preparation

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Tip 1: Dress to impress

We’ve heard it a hundred times before, but that just tells you the importance of it. The way someone dresses can tell a lot about a person, which is why you have to choose your wardrobe carefully.

Ask yourself: Is this a career that I want to appear serious, creative, or both?

Your answer to that question will depend on both the company and the position you are specifically applying for. For instance, if you are applying to be a Copywriter, consider adding a pop of color that shows your fun and loose side. If you come dressed in all black, you may come across as too “boring and dull” for the job.

Do your research and find out what kind of personality they are looking for. You’ll feel more confident because you’ll feel like you fit in and so will they.

Tip 2:  Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse

There’s no secret that the best actors and actresses have been successful because of the hundreds of hours they spend practicing their craft. The same thing goes for interviewing to land a position in an Advertising or Public Relations career.

Before your actual interview, come up with practice questions and practice your delivery. You can either practice in front of a mirror or have someone read them to you.

Note: The Career Center at GVSU offers Mock Interviews if you’d like your rehearsal stage to feel more realistic. Schedule an appointment today!

Tip 3: Bring your resume, cover letter, and portfolio

You have to make sure to bring a printed version of your updated resume, cover letter, and portfolio materials. You may have a digital portfolio (highly recommended), but having multiple print versions may be helpful if the person interviewing you doesn’t have access to a computer right away.

Also, you should consider printing your copies on linen paper. It will make you look even more professional than those who don’t.

Note: This step may seem obvious, but it is something that can easily be forgotten the day of your interview due to nerves. Consider packing your materials a day or two before, so that you will be sure to remember everything.

Waiting Room

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Tip 1: Look Confident

As soon as you walk into the office, all eyes will be on you. You want to come across as confident in who you are and your skills.

So, how can you do just that?

  1. Keep your head up and shoulders back. If you look more confident, you’ll feel more confident too.
  2. Try not to fidget. It will make you appear more nervous to your potential employers.
  3. Smile (Not too much though, you don’t want to come across as creepy). This will show potential employers that you are happy to be there and ready for anything that they may throw at you.
Tip 2: Don’t be on your phone

As tempting as it may be, do not under any circumstance look at your phone when you are waiting to be called for your interview. There are so many other things you can do to avoid doing this, such as:

  1. Look over your documents and organize them if you still need to.
  2. Do a mini-rehearsal in your head by going over responses to possible questions.
  3. Talk yourself up. Give yourself a pep talk and boost your confidence to help you rock the interview.

During

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Tip 1: Firm handshake

When you first introduce yourself to the person interviewing you, shake their hand. You’ll want a firm handshake, but not too strong. This may take some practice.

Some people can be weird about handshakes and not know how long to keep them going. A general rule of thumb is that the person with more power should control the duration of the handshake.  

Tip 2: Speak clearly and confidently

Having strong communication skills is something that almost every company desires, therefore, if you have that ability, demonstrate it with the way you speak.

This can be done by avoiding filler words (“like”, “um”, “uh”, etc.) as much as possible. Whenever you use a filler word while you speak, you come across as not sure of yourself. Confidence is key, and every employer no matter what field you want to get into will be looking for just that. When you use the right wording, you can make any negative aspect about yourself seem less noticeable.

Tip 3: Demonstrate your knowledge of the company

Throughout the interview, show that you did research on the company. While answering their questions, relate it back to their mission statement or past projects that they have been involved in. This will let them know that you aren’t only interested in the job because of the money, but also the company itself and their overall goals.

Bonus Tip: Follow up with the person that interviewed you

If you really want to stand out to your employer, send them a thank you note or even a mini portfolio that they have yet to see. They will be impressed because not many applicants do this, and will realize just how much you want the job.

These are just a few of the many tips out there when it comes to interviewing. It takes a lot of practice because no interview is the same, but you’ll get the hang of it. Embrace your uniqueness in order to make yourself stand out. And most importantly, be prepared and be present.

Now, go out there and rock that interview!

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