Unexpectedly, an awesome opportunity to interview for the ideal internship lands right in your lap.
Or, perhaps, you've been waiting a long time for an opportunity to interview at a company that's always making the local "best places to work" list, and you finally have the chance.
The only caveat is you haven't been on an interview since "Everyone Loves Raymond" won an Emmy.
And the interview is tomorrow.
Whether you're cramming for your first interview ever, or your first in five years, the fundamentals remain the same. Here's a 10-step job interview preparation checklist.
Interviewing Basics: A Checklist
1. Arrive early. Fifteen to 20 minutes is sufficient. As you wait, you can observe employees coming and going, which can give you some insight into the work environment.
2. Dress and act professionally. Even if you know that the dress code is business casual, kick it up a notch up. During the interview, speak positively and make eye contact.
3. Bring multiple copies of your resume. You might end up in a group interview situation, so bring at least six.
4. Remember paper and pen. Take a few notes during the interview. This will demonstrate that you're engaged and interested. Jot down the names of everyone who interviews you. (You can verify correct spellings later.)
5. Take documentation from home. In case you need to fill out an application, have some legal documentation with you such as a driver's license, social security card, birth certificate, or voter's registration card.
6. Have some cash on hand. You may have to pay for parking or a valet.
7. Practice answering questions. Certain questions are inevitable. "What is your greatest strength/weakness?" "What motivates you?" "Why do you want this job?" Be ready to talk about two achievements you're proud of, a time when you took a risk, and what makes you a good team member. And remember, when they say, "Tell us about yourself," what they really want to know are the skills and experience you bring to the position.
8. Prepare questions. When asked, "Do you have any questions for us?" it's the kiss of death to say, "No, I think you've covered everything." Have at least three questions ready. Ask about the corporate structure and culture. What specific challenges you might face in this position. What a typical day will be like. And, of course, at the end of the interview remember, "What is the next step in the interview process?"
9. Say thank you. Send thank you notes. Nothing fancy or lengthy. Just a few sentences of appreciation. Send an individual note to each person you met with, making sure names are spelled correctly by calling HR or checking the website.
10. Follow-up. If you haven't heard back within the time frame discussed during the interview, call. If a decision is yet to be made, ask when you could call back.
Finally, smile! Smiling not only relieves stress, but makes you appear more confident.
After all, you landed an interview. That's definitely something to smile about!
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Image Credit: almaarte on Flickr/Creative Commons