Senior spring semester revolves around going out and completing bucket lists, but sometimes those events have to be put on hold when real life kicks in. For seniors seeking jobs, spring semester is full of searching, applying and interviewing.
After the initial steps of sending out a résumé and cover letter and short phone interview comes the time where you wait to see if you have been invited to fly out for an in-person interview. I just returned from an in-person interview and here are some tips to anyone else traveling for an interview.
What will be covered?
Most companies will pay for all expenses related to the interview. This means flight, transportation to and from the airport and any baggage. Whether food is covered will be explained. Often times the company will provide an expense sheet and ask you to keep a record of all receipts to mail back to them with the report. Do not expect anything to be covered. Some companies have such high demand for their jobs that you will be responsible for all expenses for the trip including transportation.
If the company has informed you that all expenses are paid for, do not take advantage. Buy meals you are accustomed to on your own budget. They will see the receipts and what you purchased. Do not bill them for any alcohol even if it is after the interview during your four hour layover home. If you can avoid an extra fee for checked luggage, try to consolidate into bringing only a carry-on piece. Make sure to check airline policies to ensure you are in compliance with baggage sizing.
What to pack?
For the actual interview, wear a business professional outfit. If there are additional events surrounding the interview like group dinners or lunches with the other interviewees, ask in advance for a suggested dress code. If you go in blind, pack options. It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed. The safest color to wear is black, so pack one black option as a safe outfit choice for any event.
Make sure to pack comfortable clothes to travel in. There will be a chance to change either in the hotel or conference area before you leave or in the airport. You don’t want to sit on a plane in a suit on the way to the interview and feel disheveled from the plane. There will be a place and opportunity to change.
The company will probably have multiple applicants interviewing at once. Even though these people are your competition, make sure to network. Be friendly at all times because you never know who is watching your interactions. At group activities or meals make sure to engage in conversation with everyone. Part of the interview will be how you mesh well with others. Speak with everyone and remember names. If you don’t know what to talk about, start with the basics. Everyone has a name and a hometown. People enjoy speaking about what they like or miss from home so ask about favorite restaurants from their hometown or how the weather is.
Always smile and be yourself. If you are a fit for the job, then your usual personality will prevail during the interview. Relax and don’t feel nervous or tense. You want to feel comfortable when interviewing because the environment and the people you are around probably won’t be too different if you start the job. Remember to be polite and courteous toward your interviewers, but also don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or ask questions on anything you may have a concern about. Being open and honest with the company is important so don’t be scared to speak up with any uncertainties you may have. One question a lot of people forget to ask is when to expect an answer by. Make sure to ask this so you know how long you will be playing the waiting game. At the end thank your interviewer for his or her time, give them a firm handshake and request a business card so you can follow up with a thank you email.
At the end
Remember you are on the interview from the minute you walk off of the plane until the minute you are back on the plane. When you have down time make sure to not goof off or say anything inappropriate because you never know who is listening. When you finish and are at your terminal waiting for fly home allow yourself to breathe, relax and congratulate yourself on finishing a stressful task. Wait for a major celebration until you are home or find out from the company. Always remember to send that thank you note no matter how the interview went.