To-Do List

Job interviews aren't easy for anyone, but there are things you can do to help the process go smoothly.

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Your job interview is about to begin. Now what? Read on to find out what to do.

Act confident from the get-go.

“Walk into the room with your head up,” says Sheila J. Curran, director of career services at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. “Don’t look down at the floor. Make good eye contact during the interview, but don’t continually stare at the interviewer. And when you shake the person’s hand, do it firmly but not too hard.”

It’s OK to be nervous—on the inside.

You’re not a robot, and the interviewer doesn’t expect you to be one. A gentle self-reminder about staying calm may help. “I handle my nervousness by telling myself, ‘Don’t worry about it,’” says Crystal Irby, 17, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Sell yourself.

Interviewers aren’t interested only in why you want to work at their company—they want to know why they should hire you. The interview is the perfect opportunity to convince them that you’re the best person for the job. So be ready to explain what you can offer the company.

Ask questions.

This will help you decide if the job is right for you. Here are a few topics to inquire about: the responsibilities of the job you’re applying for, the name of your potential supervisor, and the dress code. Asking questions may be intimidating, but having the answers will make your life easier if you do get hired.

Find out the next step.

Will company officials contact you to let you know if you’ve been hired? Or should you reach out to them? Make sure the interviewer has your contact information (phone number and e-mail address). If the policy is for you to contact the company, ask what form of communication (phone call or e-mail) is appropriate.

Express thanks.

Thank the interviewer for talking with you and shake his or her hand. “Let them know you’re interested in the position and say that you look forward to hearing from them,” says Anna Cuba, a career counselor at the University of Miami in Miami, Florida. And follow up the next day by sending a thank-you note to your interviewer. You can do this by e-mail if your interviewer is OK with communicating that way. “This will really impress your interviewer,” says A. Tariq Shakoor, director of career services at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. “The note should be brief. Just thank the person for interviewing you. You can also add that you are looking forward to joining their team.”

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