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Dazzle Your Alumni

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You got the job interview. Congrats. Now, don't shoot yourself in the foot (figuratively). Follow these tips.


Before the interview

An interview helps a company to decide if it should invest real money in you. By preparing well, you tell the company that you're a serious candidate worthy of its investment.

Clean up your social media.
Employers may do a cursory look through your social media. Update your privacy settings. Delete unprofessional posts. Your cat videos are cute only to you.

Get local feedback.
Use LinkedIn or your alumni network to locate someone in the company to call prior to your interview. Ask about company culture and your position.

"But that's scary!" you say. No, clowns are scary. When you mention this call in your interview, you'll sound awesome.

Research questions.
Anticipate what you'll be asked by searching the web for common interview questions. A million exist, but you might get asked about strengths and weaknesses, past challenges, or the coefficient of linear thermal expansion for stainless steel (depending on the position).

Prepare questions.
Research the company and prepare good questions to ask your interviewers. "No, I think you answered everything" is secret company code for "I'm not very interested in this job."

Practice.
Go through mock interviews with family and friends. If you've already answered a question three times, you'll answer it three times more easily in an interview.

Dress well.
Find out about the company dress code and dress accordingly. Interview outfits should be professional, comfortable, and entirely forgettable to your interviewer.


Interview

Now that you're prepared, you have two big goals in the interview: (1) to show you're qualified and (2) to show you're interested.

Arrive early.
Expect a traffic jam, a hailstorm, and, for good measure, a flat tire. If you get lucky, you'll arrive at the interview an hour early. Hang out in your car and call your mother. She's a nice woman.

Relax.
Since you're prepared and not rushed, you'll be able to relax in your interview. Turn off your phone and don't fidget.

Display good body language.
Give a firm handshake and make good eye contact.

Ask questions.
Now is the time to separate yourself from the pack. Ask your prepared questions. Discuss the call(s) you made to current employees. Learn about the company. Is this the right job for you?

Be genuine.
No one likes the person who answers, "My biggest weakness is that I have no weaknesses." If you're honest and authentic, your interviewer will get to know you (and not harbor lingering doubts).

Prepare for the follow-up.
Ask about the next steps. When will you hear back? Request a business card so that you can follow up.


After the interview

E-mail
Send a brief thank-you e-mail within 24 hours of your interview.

Written follow-up
Your interviewer wants to know if you really want the job (and maybe you don't). Send a written letter addressing topics from your interview.

No Tweeting
If you're big into social media, don't post about your interview. Assume they're following you on the web (and possibly in real life, if you've applied to the CIA).


Story Time

Bert was feeling so good about a recent job interview that he couldn't help bragging over Twitter:

Just rocked the interview with @FaberInc! They never even asked about my time in juvie for you-know-what. #iamthekingoftheworld

Bert sent his thank-you card and even called back a week later, but strangely never got the position.