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Monday, April 05, 2010

3 Tips Every College Student Should Know for Interviewing

We are all in the same boat right about now; trying to land a killer internship or maybe even a full-time position at a company you have been dreaming about for years. Or maybe you are just trying to find something to keep your head above water until that perfect job comes along. Either way, an interview is a crucial part of this process and it is important that you know how to prepare, what to expect, and proper ways to follow-up afterward.

Prior to the interview:
  • Do your homework! Research as much as you can about the company, person your interviewing with, and the position you are applying for. They are expecting you want to ask questions as well (beyond salary, benefits, and work attire!).
  • Practice a few common questions that are asked during interviews: how have you handled a situation when you had to compromise your values? Or, tell me about a time you were able to use leadership skills? (More questions can be found at
  • Pick out a professional outfit!
  • Know where you are going and leave early. You may even want to practice your route a day or two ahead at the time of your interview so you have a chance to foresee traffic issues, etc.
During the interview:
  • You have (hopefully) already practiced various questions, so be positive and confident in your answers!
  • Make eye contact throughout the interview to show that you are interested and listening carefully.
  • Using what you know about the company and what you have learned so far in the interview, ask questions right back (without interrupting, of course). A few examples being: What are some long-term objectives you would like to see accomplished? What are the difficult tasks you foresee for the person in this position?
  • Make sure to thank them, have a firm handshake, and leave with a smile!
After the interview:
  • Send a thank you email before the day is over (the sooner the better) to let your interviewer know you appreciate their time.
  • In addition, send a hand-written thank you note within a day or two of your interview.
  • Thank you letters are an opportunity to: reiterate your interest in the company and position; show appreciation for their interest in speaking with you; make a reference to a connection you made with the interviewer or something you learned about the company; to let them know you will be in touch; and to demonstrate proper manners.
These basic steps should already put you ahead of the game! But also remember, as with any skill, becoming a great interviewee comes with practice. So do not be discouraged after a poor interview or rejection from a job. Instead, take a look at these again and use any missteps to make your self stronger. Best of luck and happy interviewing!

Meghan Wynne
University of Minnesota
Jour 3279
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