In preparation for the upcoming Careers in Communication, Sales and Marketing fair on Tuesday, April 12, we talked to Sarah Dodson from the University of Oregon Career Center. Here are her top 10 job interview dos and don’ts to help you thrive in your next interview.
- Know your story and be prepared to tell it. Go into an interview prepared with three main things that you want your interviewers to know about you and how they connect to the skills the position requires.
- Dress appropriately. When in doubt, overdress. Even if you know the company is casual, dress professionally and show that you take yourself and the company seriously.
- Follow up. It sets you apart. Go as far as collecting names of all the people you meet and sending them separate thank-you emails highlighting what you enjoyed talking with them about. Make sure to send those emails within 24 hours of the interview.
- Do your research. There’s more to this than just visiting the company website. Find out who you’re interviewing, and then research similar companies and the industry in general. Reference a favorite campaign or project of the company’s during the interview so they know you know your stuff.
- Use LinkedIn. It might feel odd to stalk your interviewers online, but LinkedIn is meant to be used as a resource for professional situations such as these. The information you find on LinkedIn could be a valuable conversation piece in an interview.
- Correct answers if you need to. If you feel like one of your answers wasn’t the best it could have been, don’t hesitate to start over and correct yourself. If you don’t think to do this in the actual interview, you can always include your new answer in the thank-you email you send after the interview. This will show that you care enough about the job to think about the interview after it’s over.
- Practice specifically for the job you are interviewing for. Print out the job description and highlight keywords and phrases to use during the interview.
- Always have questions prepared for the interviewers. You will likely have a chance to ask questions at the end of the interview, so make sure you have specific and well-thought-out questions at the ready.
- Do informational interviews. Informational interviews are a valuable tool that are often underutilized. Set up appointments or informal coffee dates with people at the company to get the inside scoop. As a bonus, you’ll make important connections and learn technical jargon that will help you in future interviews.
- Make small talk and be nice to everyone you meet. Talk with the receptionist, ask questions of the people you meet around the office, etc. This will show you want to make genuine connections and care about the working environment at the company.
Don’t do this:
- Don’t show up super early. Arriving earlier than 10 minutes before your interview seems overeager and could make your interviewer feel awkward.
- Don’t take full credit for everything you did at a previous job or internship. When discussing past projects and responsibilities, make sure to give credit to your counterparts. This shows teamwork and the ability to collaborate, which is important in any workplace. Also, interviewers will easily be able to tell if you’re lying.
- Don’t lie on your resume or in an interview. They will know, and you will look bad.
- Don’t freak yourself out. Remember, if you are called in for an interview, it means they think you’re qualified for the job. An interview is simply an opportunity for the company to make sure you are a good fit for the position, so be confident in yourself, your work and your ability to do the job well.
- Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t be afraid to talk up your skills and experience. It can be difficult to brag about yourself, but highlighting your strengths and accomplishments is what will ultimately land you the position.
- Don’t be afraid to go into detail. Details about yourself and your work are going to help paint a better picture of your personality and abilities. They are also what will set you apart and help the interviewer remember you.
- Don’t be afraid to ask to the interviewer to repeat the question or take a pause. Interviews are scary, and sometimes you feel like you need to be perfect. But taking a second to think about the question before you answer or having the question repeated will only help you formulate a better response.
- Don’t go in cold. Practice with a friend, teacher or yourself.
- Don’t be afraid to use notes. It may seem strange to be writing while someone is talking to you, but it’s perfectly okay if you need to jot down notes during the interview to keep yourself on track. This will show the interviewer that you are diligent and take the job seriously.
- Don’t forget to breathe! Inhale, exhale. It’ll help, we promise.
Story by Nicole Rideout ’16, photo by Johnny Hammond ’18