How to ace a job interview

You’re almost done this school year, hooray! Now comes the hard part: time to nail down a summer job (or, if you’ve just graduated, an all-the-time job, uggggghhhh). If you’re already gainfully employed, congrats! But if you’re still spending any waking hours you’re not studying throwing resumes out of a moving car window and sobbing, here are some tips on how to put your best foot forward when you get a call back from a potential employer.

1. Bring your A-game – and not just to the interview

Most people know how to put their best foot forward during job interviews – dress professionally, firm handshake, eye contact, bring extra copies of your resume – but good interviewers know to pay attention to how candidates behave before and after the interview, as well. If you’re rude to the receptionist on your way in, or your phone manners lack polish, or your emails are riddled with typos, hiring managers will pick up on that and it may impact your chances of getting the job. So, try to treat every interaction with a potential employer like it’s an interview. This doesn’t mean you should feel nervous and tense every time you interact with a potential employer, but try to think about how you can put your best foot forward at every step of the interview process, not just when you’re actually in the room. This will help reassure your interviewer that you won’t drop the professional act the second they hire you.

2. Research prospective employers

This might seem like obvious advice, but you’d be surprised how many otherwise-promising candidates show up for an interview without even a cursory knowledge of the organization they want to work for. Get a leg up on those people by spending five minutes the night before your interview Googling your prospective employer and learning a bit about their history, their goals, and their current staff. This won’t just make you look more informed and enthusiastic about the position; it’ll also give you a window onto the kind of work you’d be doing there and allow you to ask more interesting questions in the interview. Which brings us to…

3. Ask (good) questions

A lot of people get really nervous in interviews because it feels like the interviewer has all the power. Keep in mind that you’re also trying to find out if the job is a good fit for you, so when your interviewer asks if you have any questions for them, make the most of that opportunity! Come prepared with a few (conversation-starters like “What does success in the first year of this role look like?” and “What’s the best thing about working here?” are always a good bet), but make sure to also bring a pen and notebook with you so you can jot down any new questions that come up during the interview. Interviewers like to see that you’re paying attention and interviewing them right back.

4. Follow up

You may have heard people say that you’re supposed to follow up an interview with a thank-you note to your interviewer. It’s true that following up is a good idea, but the purpose isn’t really to say thank you; your follow-up should extend the discussion you had during the interview and demonstrate your interest in the job. Have a question you forgot to ask during the interview? Want to share a link to the article you mentioned in one of your answers? This is the space to do it.

5. Employers don’t care about your grades

Seriously, they don’t. The second you step off campus, you’re entering a world where your experience, attitude and work ethic matter way more than your GPA. This might be disappointing to some of you and a relief to others, but whatever kind of student you are/were, try to focus on the experiences and skills you acquired during your time at MRU that have prepared you for the jobs you’re applying for. Grades aside, what projects did you work on that you were really passionate about? What kinds of obstacles did you overcome to complete your program? If you can communicate that stuff in an interview, I promise it won’t matter if you were a straight-A student or not.

Good luck out there – we have all the faith in you!

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