Step 1: Research
Before attending any fair or applying for any job, it is important to do your research. Ideally, you would do research prior to applying. You should definitely research prior to an interview. It helps you to seem more prepared and will give you an idea of what the company is looking for in a potential employee.
First and foremost, check if the company has a careers page. Make sure you read through job descriptions that may be of interest to you or a fit for your qualifications. Job descriptions are a great resource when preparing for an interview—someone at the company sat down and created a description of their ideal candidate. You can use this to help yourself stand out! When reading the job description, think buzzwords. By simply going to a company’s webpage or career’s site, it makes it easier to hone in on what the company is really looking for in a candidate.
If there are emphasized headings or bullet points describing the company culture, be sure to look at those as well. If a company is going to the trouble of specifically emphasizing certain areas, then it is clear those are their core values and what they find most important.
Employee testimonials are also a great way to get a good feel for the company culture from the perspective of someone on the inside.
Step 2: Questions to Ask/Answer
There are a few interview questions that you should always be prepared to answer. Additionally, you should always comet to an interview prepared with questions of your own.
Be Prepared to Answer….
- Tell me about yourself.
Recruiters aren’t looking for you to simply state your major, we’re looking for something beyond what the resume tells us about you. How did you come to choose your specific degree path? How did your past experience shape your professional career interests?
- Why are you interested in this position?
This is your chance to showcase the research you’ve done on the company thus far. Be sure to connect your past experience to why you would be a good fit for this specific role. Use those buzzwords!
- What are you looking for out of an employer?
Everyone is looking for a good company culture and a positive work environment. Really dig deep on this question and come up with a response that is specific to you. When answering questions in an interview, the less generic your answers, the better.
- Are you willing to relocate? What are your compensation expectations?
Recruiters don’t need to know an exact location or precise number at this point. We just need to see that you have done some research and thought about these questions prior to the interview.
Interview questions you can ask….
- Tell me about your own experience with the company.
This question demonstrates that you are not just interested in the company and the position, but in the recruiter/interviewer’s experience as well. Getting a chance to hear about an individual’s own unique journey with the company will help you get a better understanding of how the company operates.
- What does the day-to-day look like in the role?
This question will help you get a better understanding of the specific expectations of employees in this position. It can also assist you in visualizing what your average workday would look like should you become an employee at this company.
- What does training look like for new employees?
Arguably one of the most important questions to ask an interviewer, particularly if you are a recent or upcoming graduate. It is vital to understand what sort of training a company will provide in order for you to be successful.
- What are next steps?
This is crucial to ask. It conveys interest and will help you get a better understanding of recruiting/hiring timeline. This question will also inform you on when to follow-up if you have yet to hear back from the company.
- What does success look like in this position?
This question conveys that you are not only interested in working for the company and being compensated appropriately, but also that you are looking to be the best and truly care about making an impact at the company.
Step 3: Check Surroundings and Appearance
Surroundings: Make sure your background appears professional and appropriate. For example, do not take the interview in front of your beer pong table. It’s just not the best backdrop for an interview with a potential employer. Same thing applies to taking the interview in the bathroom. Please do not eat during the interview, whether it is a video call or a phone interview. We understand that everyone needs a lunch break but it’s good idea to plan around the interview. Just as you wouldn’t talk with your mouth full in person, don’t do it on the phone either.
It is completely fine if your backdrop is your bedroom! We’re all tackling the unique challenges of the work/school from home environment, and a bedroom would not be considered unprofessional. A messy one might be considered a bit more unprofessional. A quick tidying up prior to the interview is a good idea—just make sure there are not mountains of laundry or dishes in the video frame. Good lighting is also important. You don’t need to buy a fancy light, but make sure there’s enough light that the interviewer can see your face! Again, in this unique virtual environment, this might be the only time the recruiter gets to “meet” you face to face, so it’s important to put your best foot forward.
Appearance: First and foremost, check the interview invite to see if it gives any guidance on expected dress code. If it doesn’t say in the invite, feel free to email and ask. Recruiters are not looking for mind readers, asking for clarification shows that you are trying to make sure you’ve checked all the boxes for that interview.
The main difference between business casual and business professional is that business professional usually warrants a blazer/jacket. If you are still unsure, better to err on the side of caution and dress as professionally as possible. Recruiters and interviewers assume that you are putting your best foot forward during the interview process—we assume this is you at 100% of your best self! If you show up with 70% of your best effort, we have no way of knowing that you could’ve been 30% better.
Step 4: Read our other blog on Video Interviewing Tips and Tricks!
Step 5: Follow-up after the interview
Sending a follow-up thank you note is key. It is so important to follow-up after the interview and thank the recruiter or interviewer for their time. This is another way to put your name in the recruiter’s inbox and make sure your name is fresh in their mind after the interview. In terms of content to include in this note, it is beneficial to add what specifically you took away from the interview. Did you enjoy learning about the interviewers career journey? The company’s training? You should also reaffirm why you feel you would be a good fit for this role. In a world where we are rarely meeting face to face, this note will be another important touchpoint to make you stand out as a candidate.