You’ve accomplished the first step of getting the interview; now learn how to land the job. Strengthening your interview techniques and properly preparing can help you feel more confident during a job interview. Author Beverly Amer provides tips for all stages of the interview process in Soft Skills at Work: Technology for Career Success. While we’re sharing these tips for your students, they can be applied to anyone who is currently in the interviewing process. Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to landing that job!

Before the Interview –

  • Research the Company – Do a quick search on the Internet and find the company’s official Web site. Read about the company, specifically understanding the products and services they offer. Take a look at their locations and also review any financial information that is publicly available. This will give you an idea of the size and markets of the company. If you still want more information, find out the company’s main competitors or the current state of the industry.
  • Practice Makes Perfect – Gather some examples of commonly asked interview questions from your school’s career services office or search online for some samples. Be sure to prepare for both a traditional interview and a behavioral interview, which focuses on how a candidate behaved or acted in past situations. Practice your response to these questions, so that when you are in the interview you are able to respond quickly with an honest and appropriate answer. Take the practice one step further and participate in a mock interview. Many colleges and universities offer these practice interviews, which allow you to rehearse and receive feedback about your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Prepare Questions – Come up with two or three questions for the interviewer. It’s best to include questions that include something you discovered in your research, as this will show that you did your homework before the interview. Not having questions reflects poorly on you as a candidate, as it appears that you are not really that interested in the position or company. (p. 12)

Day of the Interview –

  • Show up Early and Prepared – Arrive to the interview at least five or ten minutes early, allowing you time to park and get comfortable to your surroundings. Bring a notepad, pens, and extra copies of your resume and references. If you’re interviewing for a position where a portfolio is necessary, make sure it’s clean and organized.
  • Turn Off All Electronics – Make sure your cell phone is completely powered off – a vibrating phone can be heard! If you don’t need the cell phone, leave it in your car or at home.
  • First Impressions are Essential – When the interviewer greets you make sure you stand up, smile, look the person in eye and deliver a quick, but firm, hand shake. Dress professionally for the interview, regardless of the work environment.
  • Last Impressions are Equally as Important  – At the end of the interview, stand up and shake the interviewer’s hand. Thank them for their time and if you feel it’s appropriate, ask them about the next steps in the process. (pp. 12-13)

After the Interview –

  • The Thank-You Note – Even after the interview is done, you can still make a positive impression on the recruiter. Within twenty-four hours of the interview, send a handwritten or typed thank-you letter to each person you interviewed with. This note will help you stand out from the crowd and demonstrate how much you want the job. (pp. 13)

How do you impart the importance of soft skills, like interview etiquette or teamwork, to your students? Are there any projects or activities you ask students to take part in that combine technical skills with soft skills? Share your comments and ideas below!

Reference: Content adapted from Amer, Beverly. 2009. Soft Skills at Work: Technology for Career Success. 1st ed. Boston, MA: Course Technology, Cengage Learning.