College is over and, diploma in hand, you are ready to snag that perfect job. The only problem is you are one of hundreds of applicants for every position and your interview experience is limited to your dad's diner and the local movie theater. Try these tips to be taken seriously in the workforce and ace your first interview.
Dress the part
You don't have to spend a fortune on new clothes when you finish college but investing in one nice business suit will be worth the expense in the long run. Wearing something that makes you look and feel professional will boost your confidence and help your potential employer envision you in their offices.
The successful shake
This may sound strange but those first few moments of an interview, before you even sit in your chair, are sometimes the most important. Make eye contact, introduce yourself clearly and shake hands with each interviewer with confidence. Do not delicately give your hand or powerfully shake their arm off. Meet hands, palm to palm, and shake once while making eye contact.
Practice, practice, practice
Before you begin interviewing, practice potential interview questions at home. Work hard at eliminating "umms" and any other phrases you may use with friends and family that are not widely recognized. You want to separate yourself from the image of a partying college student and show that you are ready to move forward into the next phase of life. Bob Riney, president and chief operating officer of Henry Ford Health System advises, "researching the mission of the company and coming across as having a passion for what they are doing is key."
You don't have to spend your whole interview sitting stiff as a board in your chair, but sit up, maintain good posture and continue to make eye contact with each interviewer (if there is more than one). Even if the interview seems low-key do not get too comfortable, sitting back or rocking in your chair conveys body language that you are not serious about the job. Try not to let nerves get the best of you either. Make sure you are not frantically tapping a pen or bouncing one foot, distracting your audience from your fantastic answers to their questions.
Even though you have supplied your resume, cover letter and maybe even a sample of your portfolio bring it all with you. Invest in a small briefcase or professional-looking notebook and folder and have your materials on hand at all times. You never know when someone is going to ask to see something and coming prepared is the best way to solve that problem. Riney adds, "demonstrate flexibility and agility in your talents, schedule and what your interests are within the company."
No matter what job you are applying for, employing these tips will help you approach the process with confidence and come across as an candidate your potential employer is eager to invite on board.
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