Posted April 14, 2016

Five ways to prepare for the interview

Seriously, guys, that upcoming job interview is really just a walk in the park. You know, if the park was actually an office and instead of your bestie you were hanging with a stranger in a suit who just happens to have control over your future. And if all you had to do during your leisurely stroll was maintain good eye contact, but not stare, and smile often, but not too often, and eloquently explain your credentials and your lifelong hopes and dreams and you know, get hired! Breathe, Owls. Then read our five ways to walk in the park nail the interview.

1. Practice and prepare.
Good news: It’s 2016 and your preparation options extend well beyond the talking-to-yourself-in-the-mirror technique (which you should never do in a park, btw). Temple offers a convenient video program called InterviewStream that allows you to practice interviewing—it even asks you sample questions based on your job type and records your rehearsals. You can also schedule a mock interview with fellow humans in the Career Center, where the pros will give you feedback about your professionalism and interviewing skills and offer tips on what you can talk about more (or less).

Also, bring some spare résumés with you (since you’ve drafted those now, right?) and figure out your travel plans in advance.

2. Know the company.
Employers want to know that you know about their work, so spend a bit of time getting acquainted with the company you’re interviewing with. There are things you should know about the business (ahem, its name) and things you definitely don’t need to know (the lunch habits of the CEO…’cause that’d be creepy). Other things: The central purpose and mission of the business; the duties of the position you’re seeking and how you can tackle them; and recent news about the company. Mention some work examples that you liked, or if the company won a big award. Look for press releases or news stories that might provide some talking material.

3. Suit up.
It’s smart to get a sense of what your prospective employer’s typical dress code is before heading in for the interview; you can always ask the person scheduling the meeting. When in doubt, err on the side of overdressing. Not caring enough: Looking like you just crawled out of the dryer. Trying too hard: Showing up in a prom dress. Just right: Wearing a dark-colored business suit.

Select your outfit the night before so you have no last-minute worries. And no Owl looks good with ruffled feathers: If you don’t have time to dust off your iron, try steaming your clothes near a hot shower and using a wrinkle releaser spray.

4. Do it with confidence.
Don’t forget to rest up. We know, Owls are nocturnal, blah, blah. But a good night’s sleep is important, as is a solid meal. Our friends in the Career Center say to never, ever, head into an interview hungry. You can lose your focus and your stomach might do some talking of its own.

Arrive five to 15 minutes before the interview. Shake hands and kiss babies (maybe leave the latter to the politicians). Be friendly and courteous to everyone you meet. Maintain good eye contact, smile, be positive (leave your own workplace horror stories at home), show enthusiasm and ask questions. You might want to ask what a typical day in the job consists of, about the company’s products and about potential advancement opportunities. Don’t talk salary during the first interview; save pay negotiations for later in the hiring process.

5. Say thanks.
A bit of gratitude goes a long way. Follow up soon after the interview (two days, tops) to thank those who took the time to meet with you. In the old days, job applicants would travel to distant commercial buildings called convenience stores and procure packets of folded paper known as cards to send by courier, simply to express their thanks. So, yeah, at least write a nice email demonstrating that you appreciate the interviewer’s time and consideration. But an old-school letter in the mail would be pretty rad, too.

Like we said, it’s an interview in the park.

Related stories:
7 ways to kickstart your job search

7 tips for writing your résumé