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So congratulations, your resume wasn’t shoved into a pile somewhere to be forgotten after your phone interview, and you were invited in for a job interview. First off, everybody calm down. Vanessa’s here. Okay good. Now that we’re settled down, let me shell out the details. I will preface this by saying that I could probably write a book about everything that you should and should not do in an interview, but here are the most common ones. (I’m considering a Part Two. Comment if you want it.)

DO NOT…show up without your resume and three professional references.

Just don’t pull them out unless you’re asked, otherwise you look overly eager. Still, always bring a hard copy of your resume, because usually a recruiter will not print one out. Sometimes they do, and let that be a pleasant surprise. Regardless, make sure it’s the most updated version, even if it’s not the one that you initially sent them (though I don’t imagine that much would change).

DO…prepare your ass off.

I find that the biggest challenge with interviewing is that people are unable to clearly describe what their job was. “I was analyzing things and stuff” is not a good response to “Tell me about what you were doing at <insert company here>”. I know it sounds funny when you read it, but it’s a pretty damn common response. The idea is to prepare yourself for all of the common questions. Describe what you did in each of your previous jobs very clearly. Imagine that you’re talking to a first-year university student that hasn’t studied anything in your field. (Like me.) Go.

DO NOT…assume that “business casual” will suffice.

When in doubt, suit up. (High five if you get this reference!) You know that saying, don’t dress for the job you have, dress for the job you want? It’s true. Do it up brothers and sisters. Do it up.

DO…arrive ten minutes early.

Hear me? TEN MINUTES. Not thirty. Not two. Ten. Ten whole minutes. And then be prepared to wait a little past the time that was scheduled. I’ve seen people show up 30 minutes early for an interview and it puts recruiters in a tight spot because they’re making somebody wait half an hour for them. That’s just awkward. I’ve also seen people show up 50 minutes late for interviews. That’s also unacceptable…obvious reasons.

DO NOT…use your nervous “filler” words.

Everybody has filler words. Mine is “ummmm…let me…ummmm…well…ummmm”. Other people use “like”, some use “well you know”, others use “basically”, and so on. There are so many filler words. Recognize yours and actively try to get rid of them. “Like this job was like well ummmm it was like I was doing like working with like…” is not a good response. To anything.

DO…tell the damn truth.

Because if we catch you in a lie, we’ll never speak to you again. At the same time, keep the negativity at bay. This is where you start to creatively rephrase things. You hated your boss? No. Your boss’ personality didn’t quite work well with yours because…<insert carefully phrased reason here>. Come on. We all took English in high school. We can do this.

Smile. Shake hands. Be lovable and personable and energetic like the new-grads / college students that we are. There’s a reason why companies target college campuses. We’ve got drive, passion, and an incredibly open mind. Remember, getting hired is just as much about your personality as it is about your ability. Best tip? Think about the interview as a conversation instead of feeling like you’re getting grilled. Good luck!

Got your own interview tips? Want me to write a Part Two?
Comment below!


Image courtesy of Debs via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

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