Is this a job interview?
March 18, 2015 8:56 AM   Subscribe

After talking to a company at a career fair, I have been asked in to meet with 2 execs -- a company VP and the local office manager. I'm in the final semester of a master's, and all of my previous job experience was the kind of stuff you don't need a degree for. What should I expect, and how best to prep?

I assume, since this is a follow-up from a career fair, that this is the first step of their interview process. I've heard negative things about the company from a friend who interned (at another location) for them, but we also differ in our views about profs we like & learning styles, so I'm taking this seriously.

The recruiter set up this in-person interview, and sent me a couple documents on the history & scope of the company as "prep." I'm somewhat familiar with the company because of my career fair prep. They are in my field, a 30-45 minute commute from home, and assuming they pay well, this could be a good job for me.

What other prep should I do before this meeting? What should I expect from this initial meeting? What should I bring with me? They already have my resume...

I have the "list of potential questions" from career services to prep, and generally think I speak and interview well. I'm generally good at maintaining my composure in the face of hard questions. I know to ask them questions as well, such as about company culture and what to expect as a potential employee. What else should I ask them? What if compensation comes up? I know what I hope for and what my minimum is, but how do I maximize my compensation (especially as a woman going into the professional workforce for the first time)? Although since this is a first interview, I think I'm supposed to avoid discussing $ until they want to hire me & salary negotiations come up.

I don't have a suit, so I plan to wear flats, dark tights, skirt, professional shirt, sweater. This has been fine for career fairs, but is it okay for a job interview? Should I go buy a business suit? How early do I get there? (It's a 30-min drive so I'm planning to give myself an extra 30 minutes).

Well that's enough rambling...
posted by DoubleLune to Work & Money (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Find some time before the day of the interview to drive by there so you know where it's at and don't get lost. Also I'd give yourself an extra 15 minutes, depending on how easy it is to get to the building. Hang out in your car if you arrive too early. (aim to arrive at the office 5 minutes before the start time of your interview)

What you plan to wear is what I would wear.. unless this is a high professional job like an attorney. If you're just going to be an office monkey, then skirt+shirt+flats will be fine. (Also, ask your friend about the office culture. As a matter of fact, bang down this friend's door for any and all your questions about this company. This is a really great resource, even if they don't favor the company)

I think I'm supposed to avoid discussing $ until they want to hire me & salary negotiations come up.

This is also what I've been taught and what I've seen other mefites suggest.

Lots of luck!
posted by royalsong at 9:10 AM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think you should add a blazer instead of the sweater. Looks a little more dressy and professional, but still comfortable. Just in case.
posted by raisingsand at 9:22 AM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I personally like to wear a suit jacket to professional interviews. It doesn't have to necessarily be a full matching suit ensemble that is newly purchased - but I think that a jacket is a very worthwhile gesture. You can buy an affordable one that complements whatever you already own and then you'll have it as a backup for other events that require a bit more formality. Mine is a woven jacket that goes with anything black for example. It would be a useful investment if you plan to do more interviewing.

As for other people's opinions of the company etc - I would take that with a grain of salt. Someone warned me off my current job and my current manager in particular when I was interviewing and they could not have been more wrong. Everyone is different and besides - that's what the interview is for. You need to evaluate your potential employers just as much as they evaluate you.
posted by rdnnyc at 9:23 AM on March 18, 2015

Five minutes early may not be enough time. In all the interviews I've gone for there were forms to fill out (application, NDAs, etc.) before the interviewing actually began. I mean you don't want to be there an hour early but it may be worth asking the HR people at the company if there will be anything like this to do before you start.

Also bring extra copies of your resume and something to write on and with. Something like a plain but nice looking portfolio with a pocket for your resumes and a paper pad. You might want to take notes at some point.
posted by sevenless at 9:36 AM on March 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I would highly recommend going through the Ask A Manager Interview Guide before your interview. It's an awesome resource for prepping for and how to have an awesome interview. The blog is also awesome and full of useful information. I have used it for my last three interviews and gotten lots of comments on how well I interviewed (and I didn't before!).
posted by snowysoul at 9:54 AM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

Ask A Manager is a great resource. She offers a free How To Interview guide when you sign up with her site. (Her emails are very infrequent so it's worth doing, I think.) Good luck!
posted by Beti at 9:58 AM on March 18, 2015

You're meeting with a VP. Wear a blazer.
posted by erst at 10:18 AM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think your outfit sounds fine. As long as you feel good I don't think you need to buy a suit.

Things to take: Your list of questions for them, a note pad, bottle of water, resume, cover letter, list of references.

Practice: I don't think you need to actually write down answers, but if you read through lists of common interview questions you can get some examples ready to go. Like, tell us about a time you failed. Tell us about a project that succeeded, etc.

Another thing to think about might be social media. Do you have a Linked In account? What comes up when you google your name?
posted by MadMadam at 10:38 AM on March 18, 2015

Response by poster: I tried to buy a blazer today but both easy-access stores only had spring-colored blazers! (Light gray? Seriously?) I'll definitely get one soon, as I expect (hope) to be going on several interviews.

I also appreciate the advise to talk to my friend who worked there -- she was helpful!
posted by DoubleLune at 8:50 PM on March 18, 2015

What's wrong with light gray for a blazer? Paired with all black it might look nice.

Check places like the Limited and Ann Taylor -- they always have black blazers in stock. If you can't afford that, then Target usually has something you could use.
posted by echo0720 at 5:01 PM on March 19, 2015

Response by poster: P.S. Got the job, loving it!
posted by DoubleLune at 6:26 AM on November 26, 2015

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