Lucky Interview

If you’ve ever applied for a highly sought-after job or internship, then you know it takes careful research, preparation and a little luck (of the Irish?) to get a call-back for a chance to interview. If you are lucky enough to be brought in for an interview, then you have managed to stand out on paper next to a stack of other applicants. The next step is to impress the recruiter face to face, to prove you are the top candidate for the position.

Many young professionals consider interviewing to be the most intimidating part of the recruiting process. But if you do your homework and properly prepare, you can overcome your nerves and portray the confidence needed to land the opportunity. Here are a few of my tips for a stellar interview:

Do your research. Research is the first step to get ready for your interview. Not only should you have a full understanding of the products and services the company offers, but you should also be aware of any recent news surrounding the company. After checking out a company’s website and top search results, check out its online press room and social media channels to get a sense of what is going on with the organization.

Prepare a list of questions. After you have completed your research, compile a list of questions you have regarding the company and the position. Asking challenging and unique questions will make you stand out as a candidate and shows that you have reflected upon the role you would play within the organization. One question to steer away from during a first interview: anything about compensation. This is a question that can make companies think you’re just interested in the money side of the job.

Practice, practice, practice. The best way to feel prepared for an interview is to practice answering questions about you. Prepare to talk about specific examples of your work that communicate you have the skills and qualifications necessary for the job.

Dress for success. The perfect interview outfit is something you feel both comfortable and confident in. Avoid wearing clothes that are too tight or need constant readjustment—your discomfort will show through your body language. Lay out and iron your outfit the night before to ensure it is not wrinkled or stained for the interview.

Prepare your portfolio. Writing or design samples are a must for any job in communications or marketing. Tidy up your best projects, and flag work that directly relates to the tasks the job requires.

Leave early. If your interviewer did not give you directions, make sure you research several routes to get to your destination. Plan to arrive at your interview 10-15 minutes early, taking into account any traffic you might encounter along the way.

Accept water. If your interviewer offers you a beverage, politely accept water. Staying hydrated will prevent your voice from cracking and soothe your throat if your voice reflects your nerves. Taking a sip of water between questions will also give you a few seconds to think through your answers.

Write thank-you cards. A hand written thank-you card is a personal way to show appreciation for the opportunity to interview. If you can, collect a business card from everyone who participated in the interview. When you make it back to your car, jot down some talking points from each interviewer on their business card. This will help you write a personalized note that shows you reflected upon the information they shared with you.

The time and effort you invest in preparing for an interview will increase your chances of landing the position. Don’t waste an opportunity by relying on luck alone. Use these tips to help prepare you for your next interview.

What are your tips for achieving a successful interview?