Are you nervous for an upcoming interview? Maybe you are graduating from college this month and starting to get calls from the places you applied to work. Maybe you are looking for your second or third job and lining up interviews. Don’t be nervous – just keep in mind these simple tips.
1. Early is On Time. Make sure you allow for enough time in your schedule to show up early for your interview. You should arrive at least 10 minutes early as evidence that you are organized and respectful of the interviewer’s time. If you arrive on time, that should be considered late in your mind. Use this principle for all meetings, not just interviews.
2. Do Background Research. Ask the organization who will be interviewing you and do research about that person. Most groups in the liberty movement list biographies of their employees on their website. Search for blogs or articles the person has written, and be sure to google their name. If there are several people interviewing you, be sure to research them too because you probably don’t know who the key decision-maker will be. Also be prepared to discuss the organization intelligently and offer specific suggestions for improvement.
3. Remain Poised Throughout. Make a concerted effort to listen carefully to the interviewer, especially in the last few minutes. Don’t get antsy, slouch in the chair, look at your watch, or start checking your phone. Take notes when the interviewer makes important points – which will help you follow up in subsequent interviews.
4. Have Questions Prepared. Be sure to bring 5 well-researched, well-thought out questions that relate to the position for which you are applying. You will probably get answers to several of the questions during the course of the interview, so don’t ask about something you already discussed (unless it is an intelligent follow-up). Some examples might be: how would you describe the office culture, what do you most enjoy about working here, what is the organization’s long term vision, and something related to the specific position to which you applied. When candidates can’t come up with a good question during the interview, it shows the person didn’t do much homework.
5. Write a Thank You Note. The best way to follow up after the interview is to promptly send a thank you note. Email is sufficient, but a handwritten note really distinguishes yourself in a pool of similarly qualified candidates. Be sure to re-emphasize how much you want to work there and why you are the right fit (using humility, of course). If more than one person interviewed you, send something to each person individually and be very careful if you are cutting and pasting the same text to multiple people!
If you do those five things well, you will have a better chance of getting the job. There are many other factors in hiring decisions, but don’t be that person who was late, unprepared, underwhelming on knowledge of the organization, bored in the interview, or silent after it took place. Distinguish yourself by doing the basics well.
Roger Custer is Executive Director of America’s Future Foundation