It’s graduation season and college students are gearing up to embark on the next chapter of their life. Job hunting can be stressful, but the nerves tend to really kick in once an interview invitation hits your inbox. Interview etiquette is critical and something you’ll probably need to brush up on several times throughout your career. So let’s face it: even those of us who graduated what feels like ages ago could use a rundown. There’s so much that goes into nailing a job than just a resume and cover letter after all. Etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer, founder of Access to Culture, offered six tips to help even the most nervous candidate leave a good impression.
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Do your homework
Knowing the organization you’re interviewing with is a must. The same goes for the person you’ll be meeting with. “Consume everything available on the Internet and in print,” said Schweitzer. “Read the company website, Twitter feed, Facebook timeline, LinkedIn profiles, newsletters and annual reports.” She suggested referring to company success stories in the interview with statements like, “Congratulations on your first quarter earnings” or “Tell me more about your exciting expansion plans.”
Leave a good first impression
“Normally it takes 5-9 seconds to make a first impression. In a job interview, you may have up to 30 seconds,” she said. The reason? Observations can start as soon as a candidate parks their car, rides the elevator or walks through the door. Schweitzer said keeping your smartphone out of view is important. Also, be respectful to everyone, including the receptionist, since “many times his or her opinion of your behavior is requested.”
Nail your elevator pitch
Don’t let the frequently uttered, “Tell me about yourself,” throw you off your game. Come prepared with a 60-90 second response that details previous experience and how you can benefit the company. It “will ultimately set you apart,” she added.
Focus on body language
Nonverbal communication can be a powerful tool. “Employers determine interest in the job by your actions and demeanor.” That’s why it’s important to wear the appropriate clothing from head to toe, have a firm handshake and keep eye contact throughout the interview.
Ask the right questions
When given the opportunity to ask questions—typically at the end of an interview—stay away from generic ones and opt for ones that standout. “Prepare 2-3 customized questions that reveal how seriously you are considering the position, what’s important to you and how much you know about the organization,” she said.
Thank you goes a long way
Your actions after the interview don’t go unnoticed. Sending an electronic thank you within 48 hours has become an unwritten rule. Schweitzer suggested taking it a step further and sending a handwritten note on personalized stationary.