Top 5 Things You Should Always Do For An Interview
Interview season is upon us. Some early applicants have already had interviews, while others are preparing for calls after the new year. Top 5 things you should always do for an academic interview.
There are several reasons to do this. First off, it gives you something to do when you walk into the interview and it makes you look prepared. Second, it gives the interviewer a reference point from which to start asking questions. E.g. “oh I see you have three years of work experience in software development. Why are you interested in transitioning to a business education?”
Sometimes the interviewer has already seen your resume, but bringing it along just gives the impression that you do not assume too much and are you are always ready for any situation.
If you do not make the effort to remember the person’s name who interviewed you (as can happen if you’re not informed ahead of time), how can you address them in the interview? How can you follow up with them later if you have questions? What if you bump into them somewhere and need to introduce them to your companion and it becomes obvious you do not know their name. Failing to remember someone’s name is terribly insulting and this kind of blunder can kill you application, even if you had a great interview.
Ask a question
Interviewers almost always ask you “do you have any questions for me?” The wrong answer is “No. Thank you.” You need to have at least one prepared question that is well thought out and genuine. If your interviewer is an alumnus, you could ask, “What was your best experience at X college/business school?” If your interviewer is an admissions representative you might ask him/her about something specific to one of your extracurricular activities, but again make sure you have researched the question. For example you do not want to ask the interviewer from Duke whether there will be a chance for you to play basketball (Duke has one of the top ranked basketball teams in the country). A good example might be “I have been really involved with student government at my school, and I see that X college has (x program of interest to you), what is the process for getting involved in the program?”
Research your interviewer
To execute steps 2 & 3 above researching your interviewer is an important part of the process. By knowing your interviewer’s background you might be able to tailor your responses better. For example if your interviewer is a business school alumnus who now works in the non-profit sector, you wouldn’t want to discuss the technical aspects of your start-up idea. You might instead talk about the usability, and potential impact of your idea. If your interviewer is from the college admissions office you might try to learn about how long they have been with the college, whether they attended and if so what they studied. LinkedIn is a simple resource for learning more about your interviewer, but you should not indicate that you have done this research – you don’t want to come across as overly familiar.
Say thank you
Remember to send an email thanking the interviewer for his/her time. Tell them it was a pleasure meeting and you look forward to hearing from the college. Keep the email short and sweet and to the point. Do not agonize over what to say, a simple thank you is enough.