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Welcome to the Real World: The Do’s of Acing an Interview

[Life after college is hard. Like really hard. But it’s not so hard that you should curl up in a ball and watch E! marathons all day long. Not only are we covering the experience from a first-hand perspective, but we’re now covering it from a how-to-survive-it perspective. Every week, we’re going to bringing the best advice to getting through your first post-grad year. Because sometimes, your grandmother’s “just go to law school” advice just doesn’t cut it.]

We’re growing faster than a gangly 13-year-old girl here at CollegeCandy headquarters (well, technically our parents’, CMG headquarters) and we’re hiring up a storm. So in addition to getting to write about celebrity PDA and decorating your vagina, I also now get to conduct tons of interviews. Since I’m barely out of college myself, it’s my first time being on the other side of the desk….and ooo boy, is it an interesting experience! I’m not only learning a lot about the process (like it sucks having to turn qualified candidates down), but also about the do’s and don’ts of interviewing. For every stellar interviewee, there was one that made me say “and BOOM, that’s why you’ve been unemployed for 6 months.”

So, without further ado, here’s a quick guide to acing an interview.

Do Dress to Somewhat Impress. I’m not asking you to deck yourself out like you’re going to a debutante ball, but I am asking you to make yourself look presentable. Show me that you care about this interview by brushing your hair and putting on only-slightly wrinkled clothes. I’m taking time out of my day to interview you (and yes, staying late because of that), so the least you can do is take off the sweatpants. (I’m serious. Someone once showed up in sweatpants and Uggs.)

Do Arrive Early. Now please, keep in mind, we won’t be early. BUT it shows us that you not only care about the interview, but also that you care about getting places on time. Oh, and here’s the catch. We can complain if you’re late, but you cannot complain if we’re running late. We don’t do interviews every day so we don’t always know how long they’ll take. And trust me, we feel bad making you wait…but the second you open up your mouth and whine to us that you had to wait, we’re mentally throwing out your resume.

Do Bring 3 copies of your Resume. I know, I know you already sent us one when you applied. But here’s the scary, honest truth: We probably just skimmed it before reaching out to you. Annnd then we skimmed 1900 more. So we kinda forget what was on it.  And while I’d love to tell you we print out everyone’s resumes before their interviews, we usually don’t. Because, like I said before, we’re squeezing interviews into our day and, unfortch, don’t have time to fully prepare. So blow our minds by pulling out a few extra copies at the interview. (Here are a few other things you want to bring along.)

Do Make Eye Contact. Most of you reading this are probably like, ‘uh, no duh.’ But, sadly, a lot of people need this reminder. No matter how nervous you are or how much you hate staring into other people’s eyes, you need to look up when you’re talking.  It’s cool if you like to take notes during the interview, but save the essay for when you get home. You have fifteen minutes to show that you’re not only extremely qualified to work with us, but that you’re also a fun, likable person to spend 8 hours with every day. We’re not just hiring for the job description; we’re kinda also hiring for a friend.

Do Send a Thank You Email. It’s 2011 and I’m not going to tell you to go find the ole general store, buy some stamps, and send us a thank you note, but DO take the time to send an email. It not only jogs our memory that we interviewed you (especially if you were the first in a long line of people), but it also reminds us of your interest in the position and, quite honestly, just makes us happy. Working people are usually pulled in 16 different directions every day and we rarely get thanked for our time. So you taking the time to thank us puts a huge smile on our faces.

Do Stay in Touch. Even if you don’t get the job, stay in touch. Especially if you think the interview went really well.  I’m not saying friend me on Facebook (seriously, please don’t do that), I’m just saying send me an email saying that you’re sorry you weren’t offered the position, but you would love to be considered for similar positions in the future. If you’re a qualified candidate, we’ll do our best to help you find a job, whether it’s at our company or at another one.

  • Jenni - SyracuseCOLLEGECANDY Writer
    I aspire to be the kind of girl that actually enjoys wearing heels. Follow me @mayorjenni. It's like watching a PepperAnn episode come to life.