If college graduation isn’t too far away for you, there’s one thing that’s probably on your mind: getting a job. Maybe you’ve started polishing up that résumé, or perhaps you’re just starting to think about your “dream list” of employers and where you want to apply for positions.

When the time comes, it’s important to prepare well for the interview. The interview, after all, is your chance to shine and show a company or organization why they should hire you!

You should be yourself in an interview, but you definitely shouldn’t wing it. Here are eight suggestions for this important milestone in your life:

Research the Company

Read the website, including the bios of company leaders and people you’ll be meeting (or check LinkedIn if they’re not on the company website). Jot down a few things that stand out to you.

Check the news section of the website to learn whether the company is doing anything exciting or innovative. Ask your professors what they know about the company—and whether they know any alumni to whom you could speak about their experience working there. Stop by the career center to see if they can offer any insight.

Study the Job Description Carefully

"Jobs Ahead" road sign

Obviously, you applied for this job for a reason—but now that you have an interview lined up, refresh your memory on what, specifically, appealed to you about this particular position. Take notes on aspects of the role that sound intriguing and challenging, and get ready to talk about the duties that you would do well if given the opportunity.

Prepare to Share Examples of How You Can Add Value to the Company

You might prepare a portfolio of pertinent samples of your work, whether those are from previous jobs or projects you’ve worked on in college. Think hard about why you’re a good fit for the job and what you bring to the table. Be ready to talk about that!  

Don’t Brag

It’s perfectly OK for you to talk about what you’ve learned in college and what experiences you’ve gained that will make you a great employee—but don’t gloat or oversell yourself. That’s a surefire way to make your interviewer cringe and brush you aside, even if you’re a solid candidate for the job.

Practice Speaking Through Role Play

Two women talking

If you’re a first-time college student, you might not have done much interviewing—and even if you have experience, preparation helps you improve this skill. Sit with a friend or family member and rehearse speaking off the cuff. You’d be surprised how much practicing your answers out loud helps make them sound better.

Avoid crutch words such as um, like, yeah and sort of. Practice being articulate, confident and succinct.

Pay Attention to Your Body Language

Talk into the mirror as if you were speaking to an interviewer.Maintain eye contact, sit up straight, and speak clearly and at a good volume.

How do you look? Intense or friendly? Confident or timid? Do you speak too much with your hands? Have your friend or family member who is “mock interviewing” you take note of your body language too.

Work on That Handshake

handshake graphic

At the beginning and end of the interview, you should shake the hand of the person/people interviewing you. A firm handshake is a show of confidence—whereas a limp, weak handshake can leave a bad (and unfortunately, long-lasting) impression.

Have a List of Your Questions on Hand

This shows you took the time to think about the interview ahead of time. You might ask about the team on which you’ll work, the problems you’ll be working to help solve, opportunities for growth at the organization, and what the interviewer enjoys about working at the company.

Getting a call from a company to which you’ve applied is exciting and nerve-wracking! Put the interview date on your calendar and get to work. The better you prepare yourself, the more smoothly the interview will go—and the more likely it is you’ll get a call about a second interview or job offer. Good luck, and go get ‘em!

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