It’s that time of year when employers are holding interviews almost every day here in Clark-Howell Hall. With this comes a constant parade of students nervously walking the halls. A job interview can be extremely nerve-racking, and although most employers do a great job of putting students at ease, there’s a lot at stake and some stress is expected. However, I’ve found that just like over-preparing for a midterm typically leads to success, the same is true for an interview.
This preparation works best for me in the form of a routine. While you don’t have to be as predictable as Mr. Rogers changing his shoes or as cinematic as Dexter cutting himself when shaving, following certain steps can have a big impact on your success. Location will play a big role, but regardless of where the interview is held, your preparation should begin a week before the interview. This may seem excessive, but I promise it’s not. In a recent conversation, a recruiter from a Big 4 accounting firm mentioned that they view students’ appearance at the interview as seeing the student at their absolute best. You don’t want to leave them expecting more.
The first step should be a haircut. This is more important for guys, but both guys and girls should look fresh with hair off your face and collar. Next, make sure your suit and the shirt or blouse you plan to wear are wrinkle-free. Suits only need to be dry cleaned a couple times per year, but getting it pressed is a good idea. The shirt or blouse you plan to wear should be dry cleaned with minimal starch. Trust me, employers can tell the difference between a professional and this guy.
I briefly mentioned location, but knowing for sure where you’ll have the interview is key. This is more important for office visits or second-round interviews in larger cities such as Atlanta, but taking 5 minutes to look up exactly where Clark-Howell Hall is or whether there’s construction on I-285 will relieve a lot of stress the day of. As a side note, if your interview is on campus, I’ve found paying a couple bucks to park in the Tate deck is worth it. This will save you from getting sweaty or wind-blown on the way.
The weekend before the interview, I’m a big fan of picking up something new. Unless you have a lucky “interview” tie or pair of socks, wearing a new pair of earrings for girls or silk tie for guys can give you that first-day-of-school confidence.
The night before, I always lay out or separately hang exactly what I’ll being wearing, even down to my socks and shoes. As far as what to choose, pick what you feel you’ll look your best in (within these guidelines).
Girls, you’ll want to channel Kate Middleton (if she were going to an interview). Make sure your shoes are comfortable and easy to walk or stand in. Also, check the length of your skirt standing, sitting, and sitting with crossed legs.
Guys, I recommend looking to Stephen Colbert. He usually nails the conservative but confident look. My personal suggestion is that guys should always go with a white shirt. It’s a classic for a reason. Also, double check that your lace-ups are polished.
Be sure to get a good night’s sleep, and set the alarm a little earlier than usual.
The morning of the interview, do the usual shower, shave, and brushed teeth routine with extra attention to detail. I always make sure to play music that will get me pumped for the day. A personal favorite is James Brown’s “Big Payback.” This song on repeat will make you feel like nothing can stop you. If 70’s funk isn’t your thing, pick tracks that will help you wake up and set the tone for the day. Eat light, but always make sure to eat sometime. This will pay dividends when your brain is functioning fast for that unexpected question about your biggest weakness. If you’re a coffee drinker, feel free to have a cup. However, too much caffeine may make it difficult to stay relaxed in the interview.
On the drive to your interview, pick a song that you can sing along to. This will warm up your voice and prevent any early-morning croaking when answering that first question.
Upon arriving to the interview location, give yourself a minute or two to relax, go over your answers, take some deep breaths, and visualize being successful in the interview. Also, play the song below in your car or headphones. Do it. This song can make the most mundane task awesome, and you’ll be ready to nail the interview.
What pre-interview routine do you follow? Feel free to leave any suggestions in the comment section!