Resumes are important tools for your job search, but interviews are the key to moving from job seeker to happily employed. Right now, millennials in the job market are facing tough competition from both their peers and an older, often more experienced workforce—so knowing how to ace the interview is crucial.
Here are six ways you can make a strong, positive impression at your next interview, and land that perfect job.
- Do Your Homework
Career expert and Millennial Branding founder Dan Schawbel states one of the biggest problems employers have with millennials is that they aren’t prepared for interviews.
Thorough research is one of the best things you can do to prepare for job interviews. Find out as much as you can about the company and the person you’re interviewing with ahead of time by reading their website, searching them on Google, connecting on LinkedIn, checking out company reviews on sites like Glassdoor, and talking to current and former employees.
While you’re researching, think about how your skills and experience will benefit this company in particular.
- Practice, Practice, Practice
Did you drive perfectly the first time you got behind the wheel of a car? If not, why would you go to an interview and expect to be amazing if you’ve never done it before (or you’ve done it once or twice, but not very well)? Just like any other skill, practice makes perfect when it comes to interviewing.
There are several ways you can practice interviewing before you go for the real thing. Mock interviews with a professional can not only help you get some interview time in, but also provide you with feedback to improve your interviewing skills. You can also try practice interviews with a friend, or video yourself answering interview questions so you can review and analyze your performance.
- Bring a Business Card
To most millennials, this advice might sound archaic. After all, everything is online these days, and no one carries around those little rectangles of paper with printed contact information when you can just text or email.
In an interview with Business Insider, Schawbel recommended that millennial job seekers can benefit from having a business card to hand interviewers “because people don’t expect you to have that.” Where business cards used to be an expectation, they’re practically a novelty in the digital age—and employers will remember you for having them.
They’re also very affordable, with sites like VistaPrint.com offering 100 custom business cards for around $10.
- Bring Samples of Your Work
Chances are, you’ve already sent potential employers a link to your online portfolio or other samples of your work when you submitted your resume. But if you’re looking to ace the interview, bring copies with you—especially if you’re applying for a creative position like marketing or design.
Directing employers to a link or website during an interview can be awkward, or even annoying. Instead, have a thumb drive you can hand to the interviewer with your work pre-loaded, so your accomplishments can conveniently speak for themselves.
- Ask Great Questions
One of the most important things you can do to prepare for an interview is to come up with great questions to ask your interviewer. Use all that research you’ve done on the company to formulate interesting, well-informed questions that demonstrate your knowledge, and prove you really want to work for this company.
Virtually every interview is guaranteed to end with the interviewer asking whether you have any questions for them—but don’t save your questions until the end. Keep an ear out for strategic, relevant openings during the interview to ask your questions, and pay close attention to the responses.
Some sample questions you might ask your interviewer include:
- Why did you choose to work for this company?
- What is the workplace culture like here?
- How would my performance be evaluated?
- What challenges are facing [the department you’re interviewing for] right now?
- Does the company encourage collaboration and innovation and how?
- Know Your ROI
When it comes to hiring, nearly every employer is looking for a return on their investment. When you arrive at an interview, be prepared to show them the numbers.
Your resume should contain this information as well. Make sure you can demonstrate ways you’ve been able to decrease costs, increase revenues, improve processes, or boost returns for past employers. If this will be your first job, have some prepared ROI statements for school accomplishments or personal projects.
Keep in mind that an interview is your chance to show an employer why they can’t afford not to hire you.