There is a lot of talk lately about the importance of getting an internship before applying for a job. However, if you want to land that internship, or even a job for that matter, you have to land the interview first. In order to do that, there are some things students should know before meeting with a potential employer.

“When you go on an interview, stop being a student,” said Gerald Savage, professor of English and internship director at Illinois State University.

According to Savage, students cannot go into an interview dressed as if they were speaking with a professor, because most employers do not tolerate jeans and a T-shirt.”

However, when it comes to the question “What should I wear?” many students do not know what is acceptable.

Many experts suggest wearing suits and closed-toe shoes (no sandals!), keeping fingernails trimmed and applying minimal perfume or cologne. For women, the task is obviously much more involved. Many times there are rules about the length of your skirt or even the length of your hair.

Savage proposed dressing appropriately for the job you are interviewing for. For example, if you are applying for a corporate position, dress professionally.

“I would think that it is slightly better to overdress than underdress for an interview,” said Savage.

Once you have your outfit straightened out, there are other things that need to be done in preparation.

“Learn as much about the organization as you can before going into an interview,” said Savage. “Don’t go in there and ask the interviewer, ‘So, what do you do in this place?’ because they probably aren’t going to tell you.”

Research is something that Fairfield’s Dennis Armine, director of Career Planning, stressed in a similar article which appeared in the Connecticut Post.

He said that students also should become familiar with the company’s office culture before going to the interview. Armine recommended going to the company’s website or doing a Lexis Nexis search on it to find out as much as possible.

Savage even suggested that you call the person who is interviewing you beforehand and ask very simple questions about the interview process, like “How should I dress?” or “Would you like to see my writing samples?”

“These questions are off the record,” said Savage. “And many times employers don’t mind answering them.”

After you have your outfit ready and your research is done, you are pretty much on your way. However, Savage advised that you remember to bring copies of your resume-the resume which you should have reviewed and memorized beforehand.

Savage said that if students are interviewing for an internship, they should remember that “the whole idea of an internship is practice for a real job, and interviewing for an internship is practice as well.”

Jaclyn Drake ’06 agreed with the notion that practice can make perfect.

“I think students are sometimes nervous on their first interview, but each time you go on one it gets easier and you get better at it,” she said.

Kate D’Emic ’06 added that even though students might be nervous, they should not let it get in the way of allowing an employer to see who you really are.

“One of the most important things is your personality,” said D’Emic. “I think that personality is an important determinant for whether or not you get the job, and that is why I try to just be myself when I go in for an interview.”

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