Written By Pallavi Pal

It is the season for enjoying the holidays, gifts galore, amazing home cooked meals, holiday parties, and all things merry! Everyone is usually excited about the holiday season for the festivities and fun but as a college student the holidays can be a time for interviews and applying for jobs or internships. But don’t let these interviews ruin your holiday cheer! Here are a few tips that most don’t know (or do) for an interview!

1. Do your research before going to the interview
Just as you prepare before a holiday party or celebration, you want to make sure you have prepared before the interview. Having done your research you appear a more knowledgeable and eager candidate. You can start off by doing informational interviews with current employees so you can get the inside scoop on the company, position and/or department for which you are interviewing.

2. Know how to sell yourself
When interviewers sit through 20-50 interviews for a particular position, the answers they get start to become generic. To set yourself apart from others strategize on how you want to market yourself. (Look for our blog entry on Jan. 12 about Personal Branding). There are many different sides to a person and if you are cognizant of the type of person you want to portray to the interviewer, you can tailor the experiences and skills that you highlight during the interview to reflect that specific persona.

3. Practice before the real deal
Just as the famous saying goes, “practice makes perfect,” rehearsing possible questions and answers can make you less nervous for the interview and can also be a great way to avoid those awful filler words such as “er” or “um.” Also, some difficult questions may require you to think carefully to answer the question. If you practice beforehand, the interview process becomes smoother and you won’t need to have awkward pauses anytime you are faced with a difficult question. If you want to get a list of general interview questions so you know what to prepare for, please check out Interview Preparation page on HireACane.com.

4. Chat up the Receptionist to get the inside scoop
So what can the receptionist really do for you? Well, the receptionist sits at the front desk everyday and they hear all the latest news and updates about what goes on in the office. Receptionists are a particularly good source of information mainly because they are willing and excited to talk to those who walk in to the office but also because they can be an untapped source of information. Moreover, the impression you leave on the receptionist can be passed along to the hiring managers through casual conversation. Some hiring managers would like to learn about how interviewees interact with others when they are not interviewing. Thus, hiring managers may ask receptionists about the behavior and attitude of the interviewees after the interview is over.

5. Have several questions prepared
Many disregard this piece of advice because they don’t think that their questions are being evaluated or have an impact. Questions should always be asked towards the end of the interview in order to not only show that you’re genuinely interested in the position but also to demonstrate the amount of research you’ve done. Stay away from questions that can be answered by simply looking at their website, questions regarding pay and compensation, and questions in which you ask them to tell you what type of candidate they are looking for. You want to ask them thought-provoking questions regarding recent trends in the industry, questions relating to strategy changes that the company is making or the department for which you are applying, and questions about the interviewer’s past experiences.

6. Bring several copies of your resume and thank the interviewer
This is a simple thing to do prior to the interview but it can leave a resounding impact on the interviewer(s). The reason we recommend to bring several copies is because sometimes interviews are held in a panel style or can be with more than one person. Bringing several copies of your resume can allow you to look prepared to handle anything. Moreover, you are supplying each of your interviewers with a copy of your resume without them having to share with another. Thanking them in person with a firm handshake towards the end of the interview can demonstrate your genuine appreciation for their time. These may seem like minute details, but these minute details can make you stand apart from your competition.

7. Send a thank you note
If you send your interviewer a thank you note, you may not automatically get the job offer but you will leave a lasting impression on the interviewer. It is a great gesture of appreciation for the time and energy they invested to interview you. Sometimes sending a handwritten note can mean a lot more to the interviewer than a typed, rather impersonal note.

To get more information on interviewing, please check on our Interviewing Skills Handbook and more blog entries on interviewing. Or you can stop in to Toppel for a Mini-Mock Interview that we offer to students on a walk-in basis!