Learning the art of interviewing is key to helping yourself get that job or internship. This guide outlines some basic ways to help you in an interview.
Preparing for the Interview
You definitely want to prepare for interviews. This does not mean you should spend six hours on the internet doing a background analysis on all of their products! However, you should get an idea of what industry it is, what the size of the company is, and the kind of work you might do as a Mechanical Engineer. If you have done a little homework on the company, it will come out in the interview and show that you are interested in their company!
You may also want to look over some sample interviewing questions. Most companies will want to know about you. This includes your hobbies, classes, and previous work experience. You should go over your resume before the interview so you know what information the interviewer has about you. Some interviewers will ask situational questions. This might be, "Describe a problem you faced and how you solved it." If you have reviewed your classes and jobs, you will be able to think of a situation that you have been in to answer the question.
Some interviewers may ask technical questions. The purpose of these questions is to see how you go about solving a problem, what types of questions you might ask, and what you do if you get stuck on a problem. You cannot do a whole lot to prepare for these, but it is good to know that they may be coming.
Finally, you need to be prepared when you walk in the interview room so that you make a good impression. You should dress in business attire unless you are told to do otherwise. This usually means a suit for both men and women. Make sure to bring a copy of your resume, and many companies require that you bring an OFFICIAL copy of your transcript. These need to be ordered a few days in advance so you need to plan ahead. If you forget, print out an unofficial copy because it is better than nothing. And remember to BE ON TIME!
During the Interview
The interviewer's first impression of you will be when you first walk into the interviewing room. You want to make eye contact and smile (if possible!). What they say about handshakes is true, so be sure to give a firm (dry) handshake.
Once the interview starts, it will mostly be the interviewer asking questions and you answering them. Try to keep a dialogue with the interviewer so that it is not like an interrogation. The more comfortable you appear, the more positively you will be perceived.
Try to answer the question that the interviewer is asking! It is easy to start talking about something and forget your point. Take a few seconds before you answer to think it through so that when you deliver your answer, it is clear. In your answers, emphasize your strong points! If you are a motivated person, say "I was successful in my past internship because I took initiative with my projects." You have to "toot your own horn," so don't be shy. Most importantly, let your excitement for getting a job at their company show through. There is nothing more appealing than a possible employee who is excited about coming to work everyday. If you portray this type of attitude throughout the interview, it is a definite plus.
Finally, it's good to ask questions of your own at the end of the interview. This will show your preparation and interest. Don't talk about salary at the first interview. Good questions to ask are about what kind of work you would be doing, or what your future opportunities would be with the company. It is also a good idea to find out what the next step in the interview process is, and when you can expect to hear from them.
After the Interview
After the interview, you can do a few things to help yourself. Many students choose to send "thank you" letters to the interviewer within a few days of completing the interview. This letter not only gives you a chance to thank the interviewer for taking the time to the interview you, but also the allows you the opportunity to express your interest in the position once again, and ask any other questions you might have. The letter will remind them of you when it comes time to make a decision about a position.
As a second option, you may choose to make a follow up phone call a few weeks after the interview if you have not heard from them. This is another opportunity to thank them for taking the time to interview you, and remind them of your interest in the position.
You may do either or both of these things. The more contact you make, the more present you will be in the mind of the interviewer when they are in the final selection process!