Yesterday, I had an unanticipated interview with a marketing company about a potential summer internship. I knew I had a meeting, but was unclear whether or not I was going to be officially interviewed. Some things went really well and others could have gone a lot smoother. Being better prepared would have only made it easier for me.
Take a lesson from my experience and follow these tips on preparing for interviews.
1. Be flexible
As I mentioned, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into yesterday. I didn’t know if I would walk into a board meeting of suits or a loft of bean bag chairs and Xbox 360s. It was somewhere in between. Be prepared for anything. Different companies operate in different ways, you never know what you will find. A rule of thumb that I should have considered is that in this kind of situation, you are always being interviewed. Even if you are just hanging out and playing Wii with a new company, you are being observed. Employers take note of how you interact with the group, how you handle yourself in competition, and how you treat authority.
2. Always have a resume ready.
This was one of my biggest mistakes. I didn’t have a resume printed out and ready to go. Up until the last minute I was emailing my resume to myself, restocking paper, and finally getting it printed. I was almost late and I was flustered. Although, I didn’t end up needing it, you never know when someone will ask for a resume. If possible, buy a binder and keep a few copies of your resume in your backpack or car. This way you won’t have to bend-over-backwards to get one printed before your interview.
3. Dress well.
This was another big mistake of mine. I knew I had the meeting in the afternoon, but my lazy college brain told me I needed 15 more minutes of sleep, so I woke up late for class and threw on a sweatshirt. After class I had to rush back to my dorm and change into something more appropriate for an interview. This only added to the stress from the lack of resume. If you have an interview, no matter what time in the day, when you wake up get ready. You never know what will come up during the day and it is best to be prepared.
4. Do your research.
Always know the company you are interviewing with and come prepared with specific questions. This lets you fill any awkward lulls with a question. This keeps them doing the talking and makes you look genuinely interested in the company. In my case, I was interviewing with a company that focuses in marketing for TV and film. I want to go into film production and currently work in a field of marketing, so I was able to ask questions geared towards these areas. I tried to find out just how involved they were in the film industry by asking questions about the new movies they had signed onto produce. I knew they had started producing films, because I did my research beforehand.
5. Be willing to wait.
Whenever you are interviewing for a position sometimes it is required you wait. Often this means you are waiting on them, but sometimes you have to be willing to ask for more time to think a job through. This was my situation yesterday. The interview went really well, but I have prior commitments that may interfere and I am still weighing my options for this summer, so I had to ask for more time. It is a part of the process and an employer will respect your honesty. Take a couple days from the interview, weigh your options, and then let them know. This of course doesn’t apply if you’re certain when you get there. If you know, you know. Take the job.
When you’re in the market for a new job or internship it is important to always be prepared. You don’t want to lose an opportunity because you didn’t print out a resume or forgot to prepare questions.
PS – Relax. Interviews will go a thousand times smoother if you take a deep breath and chill out. Be yourself, have fun, and stay humble. Now go get a job!