This is it. You’ve spent weeks looking at job applications, staring relentlessly at your blank phone screen and obsessing over each word of your resume…and finally it happens. Your phone lights up with a number you don’t recognize, so you leap out of your seat, tell your friends to quiet down, hit the little green circle and politely say “Hello?” The voice on the other side of the line introduces herself and explains that the company they work for has reviewed your application and would like to meet. You ask when. She gives you a few different days, and you pretend that one or two of those days won’t work, because you don’t want to seem desperate. The two of you work out a time and you hang up the phone grinning.
Flash forward a few days (or maybe weeks) and you’ve just walked out of the most awkward conversation you’ve ever had with a stranger. You keep replaying each question in your head, wondering how you could’ve have answered them better, or even if you could have answered them better. You call your mom or dad and they give you some reassuring words, but it doesn’t do much to help your mood. And late that night, you wonder, should I have spent more time preparing for that interview?
An interview may be the only chance you get to speak to a hiring manager, so you shouldn’t just assume that everything will be fine. You need to study, treat it like test and learn what you can BEFORE you walk into the room.
Start with looking up the company. Career pages on most company websites can offer valuable information about what they look for in potential employees. For example, the Careers page for Walmart states that their team is “dynamic and supportive” and their company is built “on a foundation of integrity, innovative business ideas and servant leadership.” They aren’t going to look for employees who prefer to work alone or who fail to leave an impression, they are going to want someone who can add to and improve their image.
Another thing is to study up on yourself. Take time to identify your strengths and weaknesses before you end up stuttering for a solid minute over a question your weren’t prepared to answer. Know your resume, and be prepared to talk about any points you made in it. Be prepared to give references (or show a portfolio if your interview is for a skills-based job).
And, of course, be confident. Your future employer is going to look for a candidate that seems competent, someone who looks and acts as if they know what they’re doing. Even if you are well-prepared, you could tank your chances by seeming unsure about your abilities or skills.
So, just remember, just because your exams are done, doesn’t mean it’s time to quit studying.