How to Ace an Interview

This blog post has been updated by Kristina Rust, Career Consultant on April 1, 2024 for relevancy, inclusivity, and formatting.

It's the time of year when college students are accepting and participating in a number of interviews. You only have one chance to make a first impression with a hiring manager, so whether you're an interviewing pro or a first timer, here are 5 tips to help you stand out amongst the crowd.

1. Arrive early. First impressions are everything. Showing up late to an interview can convey a lack of attention to detail and poor time management skills. To avoid these issues, plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early for in-person interviews and 5 minutes early for virtual interviews. Arriving early allows you to gather your thoughts before the interview, check in, and look your outfit over one last time.

2. Dress Professionally. For any interview, whether the industry leans toward a formal or casual culture, plan to wear a business professional suit (visit our Business Professional Pinterest Board for inspiration). Dressing professionally shows a certain level of respect for the company and that you are taking the process seriously. It also affects the way others percieve you. If you are neat, professional, and put together, people notice that you take pride in your appearance, and most likely, the work that you do! 

3. Research the company. Prepare a thought-out answer when a company asks "What do you know about our company?" or "Why do you want to work for our company?" Conduct research on the company beyond what you can find on the website. Google the company's news articles, research recent mergers, and review the company culture. All great information to present when these questions are posed.

4. Ask final questions. Asking thoughtful questions at the end of the interview demonstrates your interest in the company, shows you want to learn more about the company, and establishes your preparedness. It also can provide further insight into the position and help you make an informed decision regarding career fit and potential growth.

5. Send a follow-up email or letter. Most students neglect to send a thank you email for a multitude of reasons (view our Thank You: After Interview from our E-mail Correspondence Examples). No excuses! Sending a follow up message won't get you the position, but it will help separate you from other candidates. Use the thank you letter to remind the hiring manager of your qualifications relative to the position and to reiterate your interest in the position.  

Bonus. Make sure you appear confident and collected for your interview. The best way to ace an interview is to prepare to the best of your ability. You can't predict every aspect of an interview, but by following these 5 tips, you will feel less nervous and more ready to present your skills in the most effective way.

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