Did you just get an email in your inbox inviting you to interview for that job or internship you applied for? Great! Scoring an interview is an accomplishment — someone singled you out in a pool of other applicants.
Take a minute.
Give yourself a pat on the back.
Now start preparing. Here’s how.
1. Schedule your interview
Usually someone will email you about finding a mutually convenient date and time to have your interview. Make sure you reply promptly and take the company’s lead on how formal your written response should be.
Express your enthusiasm and try to be as flexible as possible when finding a convenient time. Once a time is decided, take the initiative to reconfirm your understanding of scheduling details, including location or dial-in number. You don’t want to realize half an hour before you’re supposed to meet someone that you don’t know what building their office is in or that they don’t know how to reach you on the phone.
2. Refresh your knowledge
Once you have a time for your interview, it’s time to prepare. You probably have a good idea about what the role you’re interviewing for entails and what that organization does.
However, refresh yourself on the job description. Be familiar with the organization’s website, mission, and type of work. Google the organization and see if it has been in the news recently. Give yourself enough time to review all of this information so you can digest it all and reflect. This way you’ll give yourself the space to think of questions you can ask the interviewer as well.
3. Prepare for a phone interview
It’s not uncommon to have multiple interviews over the phone. Usually these calls last 20 to 30 minutes and are with one to two people.
Before your interview, have your resume and other application materials handy (either on your computer or on paper). This is important in case you need to reference something you mentioned in your application. Also make sure that you are in a quiet area with good reception and your phone is charged.
4. Prepare for an in-person interview
If you have an in-person interview, make sure you dress presentably and are well groomed. You wouldn’t want the way you look to distract the interviewer away from assessing you on your abilities. Make sure you arrive five to ten minutes before your scheduled interview time. That way, you’re not so early that you’re inconveniencing anyone, yet you’re still early enough to give yourself time to gather your thoughts and relax. Bring a printed copy of your resume and cover letter and remember the names of the people you are meeting with. Make eye contact and smile.
5. Follow up after your interview
Within 24 to 48 hours after your interview, make sure to email your interviewers, thanking them for their time and re-expressing your interest in the position. If there is anything you forgot to mention during your interview, you can use your thank you note as an opportunity to highlight it. You can also consider a handwritten thank you note, mailed to the interviewer’s office. In this digital age, sometimes a written note sets you apart.
Usually you will hear back from your potential employer within one to two weeks of the interview. If you haven’t, feel free to follow-up with one additional email. Sometimes that friendly persistence puts you ahead of your competition.