Headed to your first interview? Do your research and make sure you’re prepared. Dress the part, arrive a little bit early, and be ready to answer the types of questions you’re likely to hear.
Don’t be a no-show. If you find another opportunity or have an unexpected obligation arise, make sure to contact the company and/or interviewer as soon as possible. This shows your respect for their time and money and shows that you are a responsible adult.
What to Wear
For a formal interview, dress in a suit: black, navy, or charcoal gray conservative suit with white blouse or dress shirt. A sports coat and khakis is not acceptable. Men must wear dark matching socks and dress shoes. A “power tie,” conservative with a little red in it, is best. Women can wear a knee-length or longer skirt or pants with hose and closed toe pumps. A 1-2 inch heel is best. A suit does not mean a church dress or nice black pants and a blouse.
For business casual, khaki pants or skirt with a collared shirt (no company or school logos on the shirt), dark socks, and dress shoes are best.
When they don’t say, assume it is formal no matter what the setting. It’s better to be over than under-dressed.
What to bring
Bring a padfolio with extra resumes and references in case they are needed. Bring questions you have for the interviewer(s) from the research you have done on the organization.
The Informational Interview
An informational interview gives you the opportunity to talk with people in career fields and even in specific jobs that interest you in a non-threatening atmosphere both for you and for the person being interviewed (you are not there to ask for a job).
Go to an informational interview with some knowledge of the person’s field from doing your reading, and take a list of questions you would like to cover. As you begin to explore an area, questions that are pertinent will occur to you.
When you interview for information rather than as a candidate for a job, the atmosphere is informal. Most people are eager to give advice and are pleased and flattered that you asked them. Also, you and an employer have an opportunity to take a look at each other under non-stressful circumstances. Though informational interviews are not for the purpose of producing job offers, when you are narrowing in on where you fit, it is not at all unlikely that one day you will discover that instead of interviewing for information, you are being offered a job!
Before leaving the interview be sure to ask for a referral name, someone who could give you more information, and be sure to send a thank you note.