Tips for Your Next Interview

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, xianrendujia

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, xianrendujia

Interviews can be a terrifying thing. It feels like a million things can go wrong. Am I talking too fast? Do they think I’m qualified enough? Do I have lipstick on my teeth? I’ve been lucky enough to get some practice with interviewing within the past few months and the following tips helped to ease my nerves and kick up my confidence. With these tips under your belt, hopefully you can walk out of the office feeling like you aced it. And more importantly, get a call back! Here are some of the most helpful tips for before, during, and after your next big interview.

Before

Look the part

You know what they say: it is better to be overdressed than underdressed. Even if you know it is a more casual company, show up in your finest suit and slacks. Make sure your hemlines are long enough and you are not showing too much skin. Keep your makeup, accessories and perfume to a minimum. After all, you don’t want anything to distract from your shining personality and fabulous credentials, even if its the latest blue Mac eyeshadow.

Do your research

Spend a couple hours researching the place you are interviewing. Find out what work they have done in the past, know their company mantra, discover where employees went to college. This lets the company know you’ve done your homework and are interested in what they’re like.

Come prepared

Obviously, you will want to bring your resume, portfolio, and business cards. But don’t forget to bring something to write things down in. I always find myself taking a couple notes during the interview. Also, if you feel you might be forgetful mid-interview, jot down a couple questions to ask them before going into the interview. Last but not least, leave your skinny vanilla latte at home or chug it down before entering the building.

During

Say “thank you”

It is so important to express your thanks to the interviewer. They have a busy schedule and about 1 million other things on their to-do list. Right after you introduce yourself, say a quick thanks for meeting with you to your *hopefully* new employer. Don’t forget to do this again at the end of the interview as well.

Smile

Do you ever notice that a smiling person always seems nicer than someone sporting a cold expression-less face? Make sure to exude happiness. Don’t get me wrong, don’t be grinning from ear to ear when telling them your “biggest failure,” but know what time to laugh and bear that toothy smile of yours.

Make eye contact

This is something that I think many people struggle with, yet it is so vital to positively communicating with people. Make sure you maintain steady eye contact with your interviewer. Hold that stare of yours for even longer that you think, taking short breaks to look down or glance somewhere else. Eye contact lets the interviewer know you are actively listening, and also helps show you’re confident.

After

Get connected

If you haven’t already, request to connect with your interviewer on LinkedIn, or follow them on Twitter. When adding them on LinkedIn, make sure to include a short message thanking them for their time.

Send some snail mail

Be the stand out that you are and send an old school, handwritten note. In the note, thank them for their time and include a personal bit about something you talked about in the interview. A handwritten thank-you sets you apart from the other interviewees and shows the interviewer that you follow through.

How to Perfect Your Personal Brand

Via Anna Rydne communicateskills.com

Via Anna Rydne communicateskills.com

This past week I had the chance to hear from Mindy Lockard, or the “Gracious Girl” as she’s branded herself as. Lockard is a nationally known etiquette expert. As a budding PR professional, it is important to have a polished and professional personal brand. Think of your brand as how others see you. Why is having a personal brand so important? It creates credibility and a reputation for yourself. Lockard gave us a wonderful presentation and I’d like to share some of my favorite pieces of advice with you.

On the web…

  • Social media is one of the most powerful tools to build your brand.
  • Be mindful of what the characteristics of your brand are. That’s what your content should be.
  • You are responsible for what other people post on your content, so clean up inappropriate comments if friends post them.
  • Always use correct grammar and never use profanity.
  • Have a relevant Twitter handle that people can find. Don’t just use random parts of your name.
  • Make sure the last 10 photos you posted are what you want people to see. (No “selfies.”)

In real life…

  • Learn to have conversations with people that do not actually get anything for you.
  • Speaking of that, do informational interviews.
  • Maintain eye contact with people. It communicates mutual respect.
  • Don’t use your phone. It gives people the impression your phone is more important than them.
  • Give firm handshakes, your full name and calling cards.
  • Always follow up with handwritten thank you notes.

In yourself…

  • Authenticity is one of the most important qualities in a person.
  • Don’t be afraid to be bold.
  • There is a big difference between confidence and arrogance.
  • Don’t be desperate: people can smell it a mile away.
  • Set high goals for yourself.
  • Go to events alone. It’ll bring you out of your comfort zone and let you meet people you might not of otherwise.

I hope these pieces of advice allow you to perfect your personal brand! I’m off to buy some thank you notes ASAP!