There are some big moments in your high school, college, and even post college careers, and one of those big moments is an important interview. You may be nervous, which is completely understandable; but with the right preparation, you can go into your interview feeling confident.

Research the organization. If you already have an interview scheduled with an organization make sure to do your homework on the company and the person you are interviewing with (if you know who you will be interviewing you). A great place to start is the organization’s website. Read about their background, mission statement, clients, their products, and their press releases if they have any. Take notes because it will be hard to memorize all of the information. Bringing in notes into your interview to refer to can speak volumes to the interviewer. It shows that you have done your research and that you came prepared to the interview. Also, it doesn’t hurt to look on the organization’s LinkedIn. Here, you can find articles they have written, re-posted, or relate to that may help you in researching the organization.

Compare your skills and qualifications to the job description. Look at the job roles and responsibilities and outline the skills and knowledge needed for the job. Look into the hierarchy of the job title and figure out where the job fits in the organization. Then look to see what the employer is looking for in  a skill set. Take your past experiences in jobs, schools, or projects and speak to those in your interview.

Prepare your answers. Think of some questions that may come up in the interview, such as: What is your greatest weakness and strength? Think of a time when you faced conflict in a role in a job. Or What do you know about the organization/industry? These are some common questions that you can prepare your answers ahead of time.

Prepare what you are going to bring to the interview. Bring a portfolio, resumes, and business cards. It’s all about the presentation. Prepare your portfolio of resumes, references, letters of recommendations, past work and school projects. When you come with something tangible, it’s easier to speak to and the interviewer has a better idea of what you have accomplished and what you are capable of. This will also make you stand out amongst the other interviewees. It is always safe to bring at least 5 copies of your resume, because you never know how many people you will meet during your interview.

Last but not least, bring business cards. This may seem strange to bring even if you do not have a professional job, but this will speak volumes in an interview. Your business card can simply state that you are a student or a professional in your area of study. When you hand over your business card, the interviewer will most likely give you their business card, which will be helpful when you are trying to get in contact after the interview. The interviewer will also has your contact information on hand more easily without having to go back to your application.

Choose what to wear. You always want to dress your best, and dressing conservatively and professionally can never go wrong. Invest in a pantsuit, a nice blouse, and conservative and neutral heels. These different pieces of clothing will come in handy for all of your networking and interview events. Remember that within the first 10 seconds of an interview a person already has an idea if they want to hire you or not, so dressing your absolute best is extremely important. Make sure your nails are neat, your hair is styled and washed, and that your makeup is neutral and not too over the top.

Plan thoughtful questions to ask after the interview. When the interviewer asks if you have any questions after an interview, they want you to ask questions. This shows how much thought and effort you have put into the interview and your research. Have at least three to five questions written down that you can reference. This can also make you stand out amongst the other interviewees.

Follow up with the interviewer with a thank you email or a card. It is extremely important to thank the person who interviewed you for taking the time to talk with you. Make sure you do it the same day of the interview, because it is important to be timely and relevant. This can be done in a simple email, or in a handwritten thank you card. An email may be the best option unless the hiring manager went completely out of their way to have an informational interview with you or to set up a meeting just to chat and give you helpful advice. In these situations, a handwritten card may be best.

Remember to believe in yourself. There was a reason you were called into the interview. Someone saw something in you. Be confident and prepare ahead of time, and you will be great in your next interview.  Good luck! You got this!

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