Set Yourself Apart in Your Interview

I recently sat in on a company’s presentation called “Things They Won’t Teach You in College” at Purdue’s Com Day. The two presenters brought up some great points for interviewing for internships that can set you apart from the other candidates. Here are a few highlights from the presentation:

Always Send a Thank You

After an interview, you may want relax; your work is done right? Wrong. After the interview, you need to make sure you set yourself apart from the other interviewees. How can you do this? Sending a thank you for the interview is a great way to stand out and remind the interviewer who you are and of your interest. Last summer, the presenters interviewed 20 candidates and only received five thank you notes from interviewees. You can be assured that those five thank you notes made those candidates stand out against the others.

Show Up Early to Interviews

It’s important to be prompt and show up with some time to spare, however, don’t show up too early. Come between 5-10 minutes early. If an interviewer is busy, they are probably planning on doing work right up until your interview starts. Showing up 15 or more minutes early can leave them feeling pressured not to keep you waiting. They can feel obligated to stop what they are doing and start the interview. You don’t want to stress your interviewer out BEFORE they meet you, so keep to a rule of 5-10 minutes.

Proofread Your Resume/Cover Letter

Double and triple check it. The quickest way to land your resume or cover letter in the recycle bin is to misspell something like the company’s name (or yours for that matter). Be sure to take a break between writing and proofreading so that you don’t miss any major mistakes. Always proofread your documents before sending them to a company.

Conduct Proper Research

Do enough research to be able to give input on what the company is currently working on and what you would like to do to improve or help these efforts. Make sure you are prepared to ask good questions about the company as well. Nothing is more annoying than interviewing a candidate that hasn’t shown enough interest to actually do research on your company.

Ask Clarifying Questions in an Interview

It seems like an interview would be the WORST place to admit you aren’t really sure what a term in a question means, however, if your answer is unrelated, your interviewer will quickly come to the conclusion you have no idea what they are talking about. You’re still in college so you aren’t expected to know EVERYTHING about the industry, plus internships are meant to be learning experiences; it is completely okay to ask clarifying questions so you can form an intelligent reply.

Some of these are tips that you hear all the time, like sending thank you notes for an interview. No matter how many times they’re said, it still seems that a large portion of candidates are ignoring them. Use these tips and truly set yourself apart from the others.

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