As a recent graduate, or student preparing to graduate, you may be facing a tough job market, but that doesn’t mean you don’t bring value to the table. The challenge is in conveying that value to prospective employers. How do you present yourself in order to better your chances of getting the job?
Throughout the process of identifying opportunities, applying for jobs, and submitting applications, continue to ask yourself: What are employers looking for? It is your responsibility to show employers how you match their needs and what your contributions will look like once hired. It is important to be honest during the application and interview process; never misrepresent yourself with exaggerated responsibilities and accomplishments. However, you don’t want to disclose your life’s story. If the hiring manager wants to know more, they’ll ask. Apply for all jobs you are qualified for and some you might not be; the worst they can tell you is no.
This guide contains suggestions for what you can do to be better prepared for your job hunt, and it is designed to take some of the uncertainty out of pursuing your future. We walk you through internships, writing your resume and the interview process. Please note that every experience will be different, and some potential employers have their own expectations for your resumes and applications.
Students seeking employment after graduation often find themselves in a catch-22; they need experience to get a job, but they need to be hired to gain experience. Oftentimes, employers are interested in new hires who won’t need extensive training. An internship can be your best bet when it comes to securing the right experience.
Your school may require an internship as part of your degree. If so, work with an advisor and the career center to learn more about what’s available and any application deadlines. When comparing internships, consider the following:
- For-credit/Not-for-credit: Academic credit can be earned by participating in certain internships, but not all. If your program requires a for-credit experience, make sure the opportunity is an acceptable form of credit for your degree or within your department.
- Paid/Unpaid: Certain internship opportunities include compensation in the form of pay or a stipend, while others do not. Unpaid positions tend to be more common. If you end up pursuing an unpaid internship, make sure the time and effort reasonably fit within your budget and schedule.
- Summer/Semester: Internships take place year-round, so keep your eyes open for programs that match your scheduling needs. If the internship you want is during the school year, work with your advisor or department to determine how it can best fit around your classes.
- On-site/Virtual: The majority of internships are in-person, but virtual options are also available, such as the U.S. State Department’s Virtual Student Foreign Service program. A virtual position might provide the flexibility you need to hold down an internship in the first place.
Internships are just one way to gain experience while in school. Depending on your program, similar opportunities may be available through practicum courses, field experience, co-ops and student teaching. Whether or not your school requires an internship or other experience-based learning component, there are many formal programs you can apply to on your own.
Applying for an internship is a lot like applying for a job, but the focus will be on your academic background and success. Most internships aren’t concerned with your work history, but they will certainly ask you for examples of relevant experiences in their field to determine if the position will suit you.
Every opportunity will have different application requirements to showcase potential interns’ qualifications. However, there are components of the application that are common across most positions:
- Cover letter or letter of interest
- College transcript
- Letter of recommendation
Although internships are temporary positions, treat the application process with as much care as you would for full-time employment.
- Proofread everything. Your letter, resume and application should be checked for mistakes and typos before submitting. Presenting something that is error-free shows an employer just how detail-oriented you can be.
- Follow the proper etiquette. When reaching out to a hiring manager, do so politely. Don’t hound them if you haven’t heard from someone immediately after the application deadline passes. You should normally wait a couple of days to allow them to organize the applications.
- If you’re given an interview, arrive early and come prepared with an extra copy of your resume and questions for the interviewer. You should also dress appropriately. Jeans and tee shirts are often seen as a sign of casual indifference. Even if that’s what most of the employees wear on a daily basis, business or business casual attire is your best bet.
- Send a followup note. Sending notes to everyone who interviewed you to thank them for their time is a good way of reminding them who you are, and it allows you to really emphasize your interest in the internship.
Working as an Intern
There are many benefits to completing an internship. Students are given an opportunity to work in their fields of choice. They get to experience the application of their coursework in the workplace, and they build connections with professionals who can help them navigate the post-graduation job hunt.
But perhaps the most alluring part of any internship is the possibility of landing a full time job with the company you’ve interned under. The National Association of Colleges and Employers 2014 Internship and Co-op Survey found that employers offered full-time positions to more than 60% of their interns. How can you make the most of an internship you’ve just started?
- Don’t have the mindset of an intern. Though the intern position is temporary, you shouldn’t treat it as such. Approach every day as if you’re going to work in your career. This is an opportunity for you to learn and grow; don’t trip yourself up by thinking they will stick you with all the “boring tasks.” If you expect it to be boring, it will be.
- Go above and beyond. You’ll never gain additional responsibility if you don’t complete assigned tasks in an efficient and effective manner. Look for additional ways to contribute and the opportunity to propose your ideas to a supervisor.
- Make connections. It’s easy to think you’re not allowed to talk to full-time employees because you’re only an intern. This is not true. When appropriate, such as a coffee break or a group lunch, talk to these working professionals about the company and the field; pick their brains for advice on what you can do to reach your professional goals within and without the company.
- Put your best self forward. While it can sometimes feel like your comings and going at an internship, or the quality of your work, are going unnoticed, don’t assume that’s the case. Your supervisors are likely accustomed to monitoring interns, or at least eager to monitor you. Your actions, attitude, attire, words and work ethic are all easily observed.
Creating a strong undergraduate resume takes time. Once you have a base document to work with, however, you should strive to tailor it for every position you apply for. Your resume is often the first impression made upon a hiring manager, and you should present them with something that reflects who you are as a person while concisely detailing your qualifications.
When first applying for positions, it makes sense to use your academic achievements as the foundation of your resume. Completed courses and assignments directly related to the field you are working towards should be especially highlighted. As your career progresses, however, you’ll rely less on your education and more on your in-the-field experience. Think of your resume as a living document and update it often.
How Should You Organize Your Resume?
A recent study from The Ladders job-matching service found that recruiters and hiring managers spend as little as six seconds scanning a resume before deciding whether or not to pursue the person. How can you grab their attention within such a small frame of time? Well, there are some basic organizational and content guidelines to follow as you prepare your first professional resume.
How you organize the information in your resume can be as important as the facts you include. The order you present your academic and professional histories indicates what you value most. It’s important you choose one style and stick with it. Consistency is key. Some of the more common resume formats are explained below.
- Chronological Resume: This is arguably the most commonly used of the resume formats. Employment and education history is presented in reverse chronological order; most recent experiences are listed first. This format allows you to add accomplishments, awards and recognitions to your histories, and there is often room to provide a list of your skills that are relevant to the position you’re interested in. We use the chronological resume format when providing examples for what should be included in your resume.
- Functional Resume: If you have gaps in your employment history, this style may be better for you. The functional resume puts the focus on your skills and non-work related experiences.
- Combination Resume: This type of resume gives you more flexibility in how you present your information, and you are able emphasize your strengths with a career, qualifications or skills summary.
- Curriculum Vitae: Though most used in the United Kingdom and Europe, the curriculum vitae is good for those with little or no work history; it focuses on your education, skills and job-relevant experiences. There is no standard format for the CV, and it can be as long as you need to include all of your information.
- Nontraditional Resume: These resumes are often web-based, and they present education and employment histories in unique ways, such as through video, on unique materials, or on websites such as Pinterest.
As a new graduate, a one-page resume is both expected and sufficient. It may be a challenge to condense relevant interests and accomplishments into a single page, but it’s also a good exercise in identifying the aspects of your background that most pertain to the job at hand. Applicants with 10 or more years of professional experience may opt to extend to two or three pages.
Font choices, of course, play a significant role in the readability of your resume. Simple, conservative fonts, including Arial, Verdana, Times New Roman and Helvetica, are good options. Experiment with different fonts to see how they look both on screen and on a printed page. It is okay to demonstrate some creativity, especially if this is commonly accepted in your field, but don’t choose a heavy or flashy font that makes it difficult to quickly scan the document.
Language choices are perhaps the most critical aspects of resume writing. You have full control over what your resume says about you. How will it be perceived by hiring managers? What message are you trying to send? These tips will keep your writing focused.
- Use action words. Avoid passive descriptions of your accomplishments; instead, choose words that convey the actions you’ve taken. “Coordinated and led teams for multiple community service projects,” for example, creates a more powerful impression than “Team leader for multiple community service projects.” Here is a handy list of action verbs to get you started.
- Include relevant numbers. Whenever possible, add quantifiable elements to provide more details about the scope of your achievements. The example presented above could be improved by adding numbers: “Oversaw the completion of 11 community service projects by more than 20 team members in one-year’s time.”
- Be direct. Space on your resume is limited, but you want to provide enough information to give the hiring manager a good idea of what it is you do. Use direct, concise language that gets to the point quickly. As an example, “Actively networked with nonprofit organizations to exceed project goals” is more to-the-point than, “Skilled leader able to achieve results and manage projects.” The first answers “How?” while remaining concise.
What Should Your Resume Include?
Your contact information should be the first thing seen on your resume. You want to make it easy for potential employers to get in touch with you. Include the following:
- First & Last Name
- Mailing address
- Street number, City, State, Zip code
- Phone number (with area code)
- Email address
List the institutions you’ve attended, along with the year of graduation and the degree or certificate you’ve completed. If you are still in school, you can list the credential you are working toward and the expected year of completion. Other helpful information includes major and minor areas of study.
Academic honors can be listed here or in a separate section (see more below). Don’t add your GPA unless it is 3.0 or higher, or specifically requested as part of the application requirements. You can also include study abroad experiences in this section.
Bachelor of Science, Criminal Justice, University of the Northwest, CA (expected 2016) GPA 3.5/4.0
- Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, Northwest University, CA (2012)
- Psi Chi Honor Society Member
- Deans List, 2009-2012
- Study Abroad in Venice, Fall 2011
- Graduate Certificate, Applied Psychology, Northwest College, CA (2010)
Relevant Work Experience
For each job you include in your reverse chronological list, think about the tasks you worked on in each position and how they might translate to your next position. You don’t have to include everywhere you’ve ever worked, but be careful about leaving big gaps. The job title itself may not be directly related to the career you are pursuing, but you can probably identify specific things you learned on the job that helped you build skills.
- Writing Tutor, The Writing Center, Northwest University
San Jacinto, California (August 2010- May 2011)
- Assisted students with center resources in one-on-one appointments.
- Developed three online tutorials on topics related to plagiarism, cheating, and APA citations.
- Reviewed papers and provided feedback on spelling and grammar.
- Camp Counselor, Mountain View Retreat and Resort
Lake Bonaventura, Arizona, (Summer Position, June-August, 2004-2008)
- Led weekly white water and rock climbing expeditions.
- Trained five new counselors to safely lead campers on the obstacle course.
- Maintained first aid and CPR certification.
List internships with your employment history. Whether they were paid or unpaid, internships provide you with work experience many potential employers are looking for. Indicate in the job title if a position you held was an internship.
- Customer Service Intern, California Counseling Association
Los Angeles, CA, (January 2012 to May 2012)
- Designed customer survey using Pro Survey software to gather data about brand awareness.
- Organized quarterly award ceremony attended by 25 association staff members and volunteers.
- Analyzed more than 150 member requests and concerns in report for the director.
If you are highly active in community service projects and organizations, consider adding this section to your resume. Where appropriate, use one or two bullets to provide some background on these accomplishments.
- Volunteer, Children’s Room Reading Hour, San Jacinto Public Library (2010-2011)
- Campus Blood Drive Coordinator, American Red Cross, Southern California Chapter (2006-2008)
- Translator, ESL Adult Literacy Program, Los Angeles United Way (2007)
If you need to directly address specific skills not already included in your work history and other resume sections, consider a brief list of items. As with previous sections, make sure anything you include here is relevant to your job search and the employer that will receive your resume.
- Fluent in Spanish; Experienced with Windows and Mac Computer Operating Systems; Proficient with Desktop Publishing Software
- Computer Skills: MS Office, Windows and Mac iOS; Adobe Photoshop, SPSS
- Language Skills: Fluent in written and spoken Spanish
- Writing Skills: Published student newspaper and university magazine articles; Basic copy editing
Optional Resume Sections
If your resume feels a little thin, you may want to include more detail on experiences or training you have in other areas you feel have some relevance to your job search. Many of the following details can be included in the previous sections, but they also work as standalone features in your resume.
Training and Certification
If you completed formal training and testing to earn a special credential or certification, include entries relevant to your job search and demonstrate skill development. Items in this category include first aid certificates, computer program certificates and qualifications, or field-specific licenses, such as those maintained by a nurse or real estate agent.
- MBTI Certified Practitioner; CPP, Inc., Expected 2013
- CPR and First Aid Certification; American Heart Association, San Jacinto, CA, 2009-Present
- Crisis Call Center Training; University of the Northwest Student Center, 2010
Including a separate coursework section is only recommended if you have very little relevant experience to share. List unique academic experiences that communicate the academic work you’ve done relevant to the field you want to enter.
- Multicultural Counseling in the School Setting
- Crisis Intervention in Student Affairs
- Video Editing and Production (Project: Created video tour of counseling center)
- Advanced Microsoft Excel (Preparation for MS Certification program)
Awards and Honors
You will want to acknowledge the various forms of recognition you’ve received, whether they come from academia or elsewhere.
- Selected to participate on student panel during alumni weekend, 2012
- University of the Northwest, Deans List (five semesters), 2009-2012
- Awarded American Psychology Society scholarship, California-San Jacinto Chapter, 2011
- Volunteer of the Month (support for book fair), San Jacinto Public Library, April 2010
Many students are actively involved in clubs and extracurriculars while in college. You’ll want to mention those activities most relevant to the positions you are seeking.
- Social Sciences Peer Advisor, Northwest University Career Center, 2012
- Sports Contributor, Old Blue and Black, Student Newspaper, 2011-2012
- Resident Assistant, Office of Student Life, University of the Northwest, 2011
Consider covering the positions and titles you’ve held outside of the workplace, as well as a few details about your accomplishments in these roles.
- Vice President, Student Psychology Council, University of the Northwest, 2011-2012
- Organized alumni mentor program
- Coach, Bayside Little League, Los Angeles, CA, 2008-2009
- Led team to regional playoffs during two seasons
- Named District Coach of the Year in 2009
Publications and Presentations
If writing and presenting are important aspects of the field you are most interested in, be sure to include any experience you’ve had delivering formal presentations.
- “The Psychology of Student Alumni Mentorship Connections,” Published in the Northwest University Alumni Magazine, Spring 2012.
- “Developing Student-Alumni Partnerships: The Student’s Perspective.” Presented at the California Student Affairs Association Annual Conference, Los Angeles, CA. June 2011.
What Not to Include
There are a number of resume rules to consider when preparing your document, including what to leave out. Removing certain redundant or irrelevant bits of information will save you space in your resume for items that may impress the hiring manager. There are also simple things you can do to make your resume sound professional.
- High school information: If you are completing, or recently completed, an undergraduate degree, you don’t need to include your high school diploma on your resume. However, if something about your high school experience, such as the location or a highly relevant experience, is relevant to your job search, make sure it’s listed.
- Anything that won’t fit on one page: If you completed all of the sections we’ve already covered, you may very well be over one page. There’s some overlap across categories (e.g., Experience and Internships; Honors, Leadership, and Student Involvement.). Determine the sections that are most important and most relevant to your future employer, and try your best to whittle the resume down.
- References: It’s assumed that if a hiring manager asks you for references, you will promptly provide them. Don’t waste precious resume space with this information, but be ready to share them when asked.
- Use of the first person and pronouns: Don’t use the first person “I” or “my” on your resume, and avoid pronouns such as “we” and “he.” This language is often helpful when writing social media profiles, but too informal for a resume.
- Unprofessional email addresses: Your resume heading should include your name and contact information (i.e., mailing address, phone number, email address). Addresses such as “IluvSoccer@email.com” and “firstname.lastname@example.org” convey a lack of maturity and are a red flag for employers. Make sure your email address is professional in nature, even if you have to create a new account specifically for your job search. Common professional emails look like “email@example.com” and “firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Your resume is completely under your control and a reflection on the effort you are making in your job search. It may sound like an extreme expectation, but your document should be completely error free. Here are a few tips to help you perfect your presentation:
- Have at least two people review. It can be hard to see errors in your own writing, so ask friends and family to take a look. Their fresh eyes and perspectives can prove invaluable.
- Ask for feedback. Work with your school’s career center to get a personalized resume critique that includes proofreading and ideas about how to strengthen your overall presentation. Asking a mentor or advisor for a review can also be helpful, especially if they have experience working in your field of interest.
- Look at examples. As we’ve already discussed, there’s more than one way to present your education and experience. Track down and examine various resumes of students in your major and the resumes of working professionals to get a fuller sense of your options. Your school’s career center can direct you to resume samples and templates.
The resume tells hiring managers what you think is most important about your experiences. They also see how you, on paper, fit their needs. If you meet their numerous and varied criteria, you may be invited to interview. The interview process allows an interested employer to learn more about you and how you might fit within the organization.
Presenting yourself as a candidate in person takes some serious forethought, and that’s where we’ll start.
Preparing for a Job Interview
There’s a lot you can do to get ready to meet with an employer. Try to learn as much about the organization and industry as possible leading up to the interview. It’s not enough to show the company how your education and experiences qualify you for the position; you should show an interest in their products, services or mission. Researching and understanding what the company or firm does, and being able to ask specific questions along those lines, can make you stand out.
Research the Organization
What do you know about the company? What do they need right now? How can you contribute right away? Take some time to learn about the organization, its mission, current projects, and culture. Your institution’s library and career center may be able to help you access these avenues of information:
- Research guides: Hoovers and Vault are two examples of company databases that provide detailed profiles (e.g., company size, locations, services, and reputation).
- Trade publications: Explore popular magazines and newsletters in the field, many of which are published through professional organizations dedicated to covering industry trends.
- Current employees: Do you know anyone already working at the company where you will be interviewing? Search your school’s alumni directory and use your network to find out more. Reaching out to someone on the inside can put things into perspective and may even improve your odds of getting the job.
- Internet search: Using a tool like Google or Bing, conduct a simple search of the company’s name. The results will likely reveal a variety of information sources, such as the company’s own website, customer reviews, and social media profiles.
- Social media: From Twitter and Facebook to LinkedIn and niche online communities, companies are increasing their online presence and actively networking with prospective employees via social media. Follow the companies you are interested in, or will be interviewing with, to learn more about their culture.
Prepare Answers to Common Questions.
You can anticipate a list of typical interview questions, as well as those that might be common to your specific industry. Don’t wait until you are at the interview to think of how you will respond. Preparing answers in advance can ease the stress of the situation and help you present your best self during the meeting. Common questions and requests include:
- Tell me about yourself. Don’t just provide a chronological timeline, and resist the temptation to share personal details. Focus your response on the value you bring to the organization using your education and experience as proof.
- Why do you want to work here? Use this opportunity to show that you’ve done your research. Tell the interviewer how your skills and interests are a good match for the company’s mission, projects, and culture.
- What is your greatest weakness? Your approach should include a challenge you’ve identified, what you’ve learned from it, and what you are actively doing to improve.
- Describe a time when you had to handle a difficult situation. Think back through your experiences in the workplace, school, and your community. What problems did you encounter? How did you solve them? Create stories that help you respond to questions like this one. Briefly share the situation, your role, what action you took, the outcome and how the experience helped you grow.
Create a List of Questions to Ask the Interviewer
At the end of a meeting, it’s not uncommon to have the interviewer ask, “Do you have any questions for me?” Come prepared with questions you can ask that demonstrate your understanding of the organization and interest in the position. It’s okay to have these written down. You don’t want to ask questions that were already answered in the course of the interview; plan a list of 5 to 7 questions so you will be ready. Here are a few to get you started:
- What is a typical day like?
- Why is this position open? Is it a new position in the company?
- Whom does this position report to?
- What are your expectations of the person hired for this position within the first 30 days?
- What do you like about working here?
- Are there any additional questions you have for me?
- When can I expect to hear from you?
Don’t ask about salary, time off, lunch breaks, and other compensation issues. These items will be addressed if a job offer is made, and you’ll have a chance to address them at that time.
Practice Your Interview Skills
Schedule time with friends and family to practice responding to questions. Set up a mock interview appointment with your school’s career center. They may even have equipment available to record your session for review and additional feedback. Ask your mentors for interview tips; they have additional experience to draw from, and you can learn from their examples.
Arriving to the Interview
Your interview begins the moment you arrive on site. Consider all of the people you may come in contact with before your appointment begins. From parking attendants and receptionists, to potential colleagues and supervisors, everyone is meeting you for the first time. Keep in mind that you are making first impressions throughout the day.
- Arrive early. Plan your transportation route and parking, and allow enough time to check in with a receptionist about 10 minutes before your appointment. You probably shouldn’t arrive too early, though, or you may find yourself standing about awkwardly if there isn’t ample seating.
- Be polite and courteous. The receptionist and others may be asked to provide feedback. Consider the possibility that you are being interviewed by everyone you encounter.
- Make eye contact. You are at the interview to meet people and make a positive impression. It’s easy to avoid this when you are nervous, but making direct contact with the people you are speaking with can make a big impact.
- Dress appropriately. Do your research to find out what is expected in your industry, as well as in the company where you are interviewing. You can ask the person who sets up the meeting what the usual dress code is like. Then plan to dress slightly above the expectation. For example, if a t-shirt and jeans are the usual attire for work, go with business casual outfit for the interview.
During the Meeting
Once you are in the interview, rely on your preparation to calm your nerves.Tips for conducting yourself during the interview appointment include:
- Be positive and confident. You’ve prepared for the meeting and have a lot to share as a potential hire.
- Remember where you are. A job interview is a professional meeting, so while you want to be relaxed, you don’t want to be casual. Be aware of the people you are meeting with, their job titles and roles in the company. Rise to the level of your interviewers.
- Use clear, concise language. Don’t rush through your responses. Think about what you are saying and speak as clearly and concisely as possible.
- Engage in the discussion. There are different formats for job interviews, but it shouldn’t feel like an interrogation or a quiz. Don’t recite the responses you’ve prepared and practiced, but do use them as a starting point. Be an active participant in the conversation taking place; you are not following a script.
Closing the Interview
As we’ve mentioned, you may get the opportunity to ask questions before the interviewer ends the session. Be prepared and make sure you have the information you need before leaving the office.
- Ask closing questions. Have several ready that will help you find out more about the position and further convey your enthusiasm for working there. Carefully listen to the responses, and be open to providing more information or examples if asked.
- What are the next steps? If you are not clear on how the hiring process works at the organization, the end of the interview is a good time to ask. The interviewer may be able to let you know about their policies, as well as additional details about expected start dates.
- Ask for contact information. Do you have a business card for everyone you interviewed with during the appointment? You’ll need their mailing or email addresses in order to appropriately follow-up.
Technology makes it possible for an employer to meet with you in real-time, but from a distance. This is often a first screening step, to make sure you are a qualified candidate, before being asked to travel to a physical location.
Treat a phone interview as you would an in-person meeting. It may be preliminary, but it’s your chance to make a terrific first impression.
- Set the stage. Choose a quiet location, where you won’t be interrupted, to take the call. Coffee shops and other public locations can be too noisy and distracting to both you and the person on the other end of the conversation. If you are using your cellphone, be sure you are in a location with good reception and have your charger handy just in case.
- Dress for the meeting. Follow the same guidance you would for an in-person interview. This will put you in a professional mindset, even though the interviewer can’t see you.
- Listen carefully. You won’t have body language cues to rely on, so pay attention to the interviewer and ask for clarification if you need to do so.
- Speak clearly and stay focused. It’s okay to have your resume printed out, your notes and questions nearby, and even the company’s homepage up on your computer for reference.
- Maintain good posture. Sit upright at a table or desk, or even stand to have the conversation. Avoid pacing or other distracting movements that may sound distracting over the phone.
If an employer calls unexpectedly, it’s okay to schedule another time to meet. It’s better to take the time to collect your thoughts and set up a good location for the call than to try to conduct the meeting when you are not properly prepared.
Tools like Skype and Google Hangouts make it easy to meet with someone “face-to-face,” but at a distance. As with an in-person or phone interview, this is your first chance to make a good impression, so prepare yourself for the meeting.
- Set the stage. Choose a quiet and clean location where you won’t be interrupted. You don’t want to be distracted by other people (or pets) moving in and out of the shot.
- Dress for the meeting. Follow the same guidance you would for an in-person interview. The interviewer can see you, so a professional appearance is expected.
- Practice using the technology. If you haven’t used the software before, or aren’t comfortable being on camera, a trial meeting or two will familiarize you with the settings and experience.
- Check the audio and lighting. A practice run will help you find a good location; one where you don’t appear in the shadows, have an appropriate background, and can be heard clearly.
Closing the Deal
The meeting may be over, but there is still work to do. Taking the time and effort to follow up with your interviewer after the session will go a long way in communicating your interest. There are specific steps you can take to show your appreciation and professional approach to the process.
Whether the interview was a success or didn’t go as you hoped, take notes while the memory of the meeting is still fresh. This information will help you improve your interviewing skills and better prepare for next time.
- What questions did they ask? Were there any that surprised you or were specific to your industry? Add these to your list of questions to practice.
- Whom did you meet? Make a list of interviewers, as well as any other employees you encountered during the interview.
- Which responses would you change if you could? Assess your own performance and think about where you could tweak your answers next time.
- What questions do you still have about the company or position? You may need to do more research online. Additional questions can also be addressed in a thank you note (see below).
Don’t wait longer than 24 to 48 hours to send a thank you note to each person who interviewed you. They may be meeting with a long list of candidates, so it’s best to make contact while they still remember you. Keep it brief, but consider the following:
- Reference something you discussed in the meeting. Again, you want them to remember you, so this might help make a stronger connection.
- Clarify any questions you stumbled on during the interview. If you forgot to bring up a relevant certification, for example, this is a good time to mention it.
- Express appreciation for their time and consideration. The interview process can be labor and resource intensive. This is a good time to show your gratitude and reinforce your interest in the position.
Written correspondence (i.e., physically mailing a letter) is more rare these days, but is appropriate if a longer hiring timeline has been given. If your correspondence with the company has been primarily via email, it’s okay to send a thank you note via email.
If you haven’t heard anything within the employer’s given timeline, wait a week after the interview, and then send an email to follow-up on the process. Keep it brief, thank them again, and express your interest. It is possible to overdo it and pester employers, so if you still don’t get a response let it go and move on with your search.
Remember, you don’t have the job until you’ve signed a written offer letter. Keep looking for positions and applying for jobs. Don’t stop your search, even if the interview went well and you assume the job is yours.