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How to Prepare for Your First Job Interview

College gives you the opportunity to hold a world of possibilities in the palm of your hand. It's about discovering your passions, trying new and interesting experiences, and meeting people that you'll have connections with forever. But, in case some of you have forgotten, college doesn't last forever.

The ultimate goal out of college is to get yourself a job that you'll love working at for the rest of your life. Even while you're still a student there are many internship possibilities available to help you gain some real world experience and boost your resumé. The only thing standing in the way of you and that dream job? An interview.

Going in to an interview, it seems like one of the most daunting experiences of a lifetime, but in reality, it's nothing more than an opportunity for you to convince a potential employer what's so great about you! With that in mind, here are a few tips to keep in mind before walking into your first job interview.

1. Have Your Resumé In Hand

Actually, have multiple copies, just to be safe. Your resumé is not just a list of your achievements. It's a cheat sheet for you to display your best qualities, it's a conversation starter for your potential boss to get to know you and make a connection, it shows that you came prepared, and that you mean business. 

2. Dress To Impress

I have never heard of anyone missing out on a job because they were dressed "too well." Regardless of the type of job you are interviewing for, wearing a professional outfit shows your potential employer that you are serious about working for them. I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone complain about not getting a job, and ask them what they wore to their interview just for them to respond with "jeans and a t-shirt." You want to show these people that you are to be taken seriously, not that you came right from class. Ladies, wear a nice shirt and pants or dress. Guys, wear a collared shirt. Wear a tie. Wear a jacket. You won't regret it.

3. Research The Company

It's important to make sure you know who and what you are interviewing for. Do some research on the company, their background, mission, goals, and past successes or failures. One of an interviewer's favorite questions is usually "What do you already know about us?"

You should also read over the job description itself, to make sure that you have a fair understanding of the duties you are potentially signing up to perform. Don't worry if there are some things you're not sure of, this will give you an opportunity to ask questions during the interview, which is also highly recommended! 

4. Be Aware Of Your Body Language

The study of body language is incredibly fascinating. Slight motions or positions we hold ourselves in, often times without even noticing, can give off positive or negative vibes to the person you are talking to. The interesting thing is that your interviewer may not even consciously notice what you are doing, but somewhere in their sub-conscience their opinion of you is being influenced by this body language.

Examples of negative body language to avoid include: bad posture (slouching or leaning), tapping fingers or feat, crossed arms, touching face or hair, excessive nodding, or not making eye contact. Some examples of body language you'll want to actively remember to use are: sitting up straight, use hand gestures while talking (within reason), keep both feet on the ground, making eye contact while speaking (but not TOO much eye contact, don't stare), and a firm handshake at the end of the interview. 

5. Say Thank You

I can't stress enough the importance of saying thank you. It's not as simple as it sounds, there is actually a "thank you" process you should try and stick as close to as possible. As the interview comes to a close, let your interviewer know anything they told you that resonated with you or interested you more about the job. Also try to briefly summarize your main points as to why you would be a perfect candidate for this job. This should all flow smoothly as you thank them for the opportunity to interview with them, without feeling awkward or forced.

But the most important part of the "thank you" process is making sure that you leave with your interviewers contact information. Whether it be a business card, email address, or other means of communicating, this is crucial. As soon as you get home, make sure to type out an email or write out a letter, again thanking your interviewer for their time, letting them know how much you enjoyed learning more about their organization. Not only does this show sincere gratitude, but it keeps your name fresh in their minds, then the next time they glance at your resumé, they'll remember you going out of your way to thank them personally. 

There are many things to remember walking in to an interview, but the most important is not to be nervous. At its core, an interview is nothing more than a conversation between two people getting to know each other. Be personable, be prepared, and don't forget to smile. For more help regarding interviews, or anything job related, feel free to contact the Center for Career and Civic Engagement, that's what they're here for! 

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