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Wahoo! You landed an interview for that job you applied for last week.

Happy dance!

*Photo from Levo League

*Photo from Levo League

Now, how to prepare. Here are my tips:

Thoroughly research the company you’re interviewing with. What are their major products? How many people are employed there? Where are they headquartered?

Research your interviewers. When you’re called or emailed asking you in for an interview, ask how many people you’ll be interviewing with. At a minimum, research your hiring manager. Where did he or she go to college? If you went to the same school, be sure to highlight that in your interview. (Example: “I see you went to UO’s School of Journalism and Communication as well! I just love how rigorous its program is and how many opportunities it provides to use what you’ve learned in the classroom out in the real world.”) Where did he or she work previously? Begin with LinkedIn and then check Google. If they have recently published work, mention it. If they recently scored major publicity for a client, compliment them!

Put together take away portfolios. This is particularly relevant for those in public relations, journalism, advertizing, communications, graphic design, photography, art, video production, etc. Here’s what I include in mine: My résumé, 2-3 work samples and a copy of 2-4 recommendation letters. Even if the job application doesn’t require recommendation letters, I ALWAYS include them. People telling your potential employer that you’re a rock-star never hurts. Print a take away portfolio for each person you’re interviewing with. (This is one of the reasons you ask how many people you’re interviewing with.) I bind mine with report covers. Is this a little much? Ya, that’s the idea. Go above and beyond.

Brainstorm and prepare for possible interview questions. Write some down and then prepare some possible responses. Have a friend or family member ask you some questions to help you think on your feet. The biggest piece of advice I can give you is: think before you speak. If you’re not used to this, stop and count to three. Seriously, do it. It may be awkward, but you MUST do it. Whatever you do, do not interrupt the interviewer and wait until he or she has finished asking the question before you answer. (True story: I once witnessed this in an interview.) How you answer a question says a lot. Show that you’re a thoughtful person, that you don’t rush to conclusions.

Here are some of the my favorite questions:

  • How would your former coworkers describe you?
  • Why do you want to work for this company specifically?
  • Why are you leaving your current position?
  • What about your current boss or team do you not like? (This is a common question. WARNING: This is a bait. If you bad-mouth your current employer or team, you’ll immediately be disqualified. And frankly you should be.
  • What skills and qualifications do you have that make you think you’ll be successful in this position?
  • Tell us about a time when you failed and how you handled it. (or) Tell us about a time when you had a conflict with a team member and how you resolved it.
  • How will your previous experience affect your work here?
  • Tell us something about yourself that we wouldn’t learn from your application.

You’ll want to ask a couple questions yourself. Here are some I always ask:

  • What opportunities are there for professional development?
  • Why do you work here? What’s kept you here so long?
  • What’s the most rewarding aspect of working here?
  • What’s the most challenging aspect of working here?

Finally, during the interview, write down the name of each and every person you interviewed with. Go home and send them each a handwritten thank you note that same day. Include your calling card. Again, go above and beyond.

What are your tips for interviewing?

What do you do to prepare?