Updated: Mar 7, 2020
As young adults, interviews are a huge portion of heading into our lives. Interviews are the first and most lasting impression you will leave on a prospective employer or school. Unfortunately, interview preparation was not a "general requirement" course in most high school or college curriculums. We went through years of education to get thrown out into the world, being forced to "wing it". Having the right tone, attitude, and attire for an interview makes a world of a difference. Here are some simple pointers to be prepared and confident for your interview:
WHAT to wear:
Interview attire varies depending on the nature and environment of the job. With the exception of some jobs, dressing for interviews is pretty universal.
Professional attire for women can include a button down shirt or blouse, pants or a tailored skirt, blazer or cardigan sweater, and dress shoes (closed toe shoes). Although the possibilities of appropriate outfit combinations are abundant, it is necessary to minimize any distracting gear. Distracting could mean large or loud jewelry, animal print pattern clothing etc. Creativity and individuality is important in interviews but the main goal is to look professional.
As for men, attire has more limitations. Professional wear is usually including a suit, button down, tie, and dress shoes. There are some instances where a blazer or jacket isn't completely necessary but it is pretty standard.
HOW to use proper language:
Making yourself seem personable and memorable is important when interviewing. But the last thing you want to be remembered for is your poor grammar, poor posture, or for saying something inappropriate. Some things that you should stray away from during interviews are:
- Providing information that is TOO personal (don't make any reference to your relationship status, don't mention having kids or being pregnant. Companies can use that as a bias against you and project that you'll have attendance issues due to your kids)
- Run on sentences when answering questions. Leave your answers clear and short. Talking too much may just distract the interviewer from your actual response.
- Slouching in your chair or sitting like you're on your living room couch.
- Using the term weakness. Interviewers will often ask you to describe your strengths and weaknesses, always address it as "areas that could be improved".
- Saying "um"! If you are unclear about a question, don't be afraid to ask "Can you elaborate on the question?"
Lastly, DO NOT mention in the interview if you're just looking for temporary or short term employment. Even if your goals are far off from the job you're pursuing, find a way to express longevity. No one wants to hire and train someone who will be gone in 3 months.
Some things that you can say during an interview that will make you memorable & favorable include:
- How your past experience (previous job, school, or life experience) makes you qualified for the position you're pursuing.
- Ask questions about the job (not just the pay lol). Ask what the work life balance is like, is it teamwork based, etc.
- Do research on the company prior to your arrival, this way it seems as if you're actually interested in the company as a whole. (Google the company and read their mission statement)
WHEN to arrive:
I cannot stress the importance of PUNCTUALITY. If you arrive late or cutting close for time you are giving a bad impression that you will be late once you actually get hired. If your interview is at 10AM be there NO LATER than 9:50. I've seen instances where someone arrives late for an interview and as soon as they leave their resume gets tossed.
In case its not a given, cursing and using inappropriate language during interviews are completely unacceptable. (You'd be surprised at how many people don't know that)
Although some employers may already have your resume on hand, it looks good when you show up with TWO copies of your own. This makes it easier for both of you to refer to your previous experience. It also cuts time from the interviewer having to print it out or pull it up on their computer.
Individuality is most important, but always make sure you highlight the qualities in yourself that would make you the best candidate for the position. Make sure to be clear in how and why they should choose you over the competition.
Some great places to find cute business attire for the low low:
I do not own the rights to the picture used in this article.
Tips included were derived from personal experience.