Job Interview Tomorrow - Advice greatly appreciated

Having just returned from a career fair being held on campus, I am pleased to report that I have my first job interview tomorrow. I will be interviewing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and would appreciate any advice you can give me, as general or specific as you care to make it.

The USPTO is having an information session tonight that I plan to attend (part of my plan to know as much as I can going into the interview.)

I’ve been in contact with a patent examiner with the USPTO and he’s given me some advice about the career fair, interviewing and the USPTO itself. He’s told me a little bit about what sorts of questions they might ask and how to prepare. I imagine that this will prove extremely valuable.

Thanks for any advice you can offer.

This might sound trite or cliched, but honestly, just be confident and truthful. Walk into the interview as if you’re sure you’re a fantastic candidate any company would be lucky to have, but do so without an air of pomposity. And show some personality too. Don’t feel like you have to be stale and overly-professional. They’re interviewing you for your skills but they’ll also be evaluating if your personality will mesh with the general ambiance of the office.

Dress your best. First impressions go a long way. Don’t fart or burp or pick your nose.

If the interviewer asks you an increadibly stupid hypothetical question about elephants and gloveboxes and he/she prefaces it with, “This is from the Harvard School of Business” blah blah blah…

… ask he/she if they went to the Harvard School of Business. If they say yes, make up some bullshit. The question is just to see how you respond to trick questions. If they reply* no*, ask how the fuck they will know if you answered correctly or not?

Good Luck!

Talk like a pirate. Interviewers love a quirky sense of humor and appreciate people that are in tune with important holidays.

This is Your Mother speaking.

Brush your teeth. Check them in the car mirror before you go in, for spinach and other dangly bits.

Look nice.
Wear a suit.
With a tie.

Leave the lapel pins at home, don’t care whether it’s Jesus or AIDS or an American flag. Leave it off.
Extremely muted cologne, if any.
Remove the piercings.

Watch the liquids–don’t tank up on multiple coffees or Pepsi beforehand out of nervousness, because then of course you’ll have to pee like billy-o during the interview, which affects your concentration.

Be on time.
This means you figure out where you’re going to park your car ahead of time. Allow extra time to circle the block. And take extra quarters for any potential parking meters.

It’s better to get there an hour early and have to sit there in the waiting room than to be late because you couldn’t find a parking space. Plus, sometimes if you get there way early, good things happen, like, “Oh, since you’re here, why don’t you come sit in on this meeting, see what you think about the way we do things.” Then you’ve got a leg up on all the other candidates, because the Boss gets to see how you actually interact in their work environment. At the very least, you’ll get a rep as an eager beaver who doesn’t mind sitting in a waiting room for an hour.

Bring something small and old-fashioned to make notes on, like a small memo book and a couple of pens (that work) or pencils. This makes you look organized, and not as trendy or pretentious as whipping out a handheld to make notes on.

Shut off your cell phone for the duration of the actual interview. And I mean “off”, as in “hold my calls”, not “off” as in, “Vibrate”.

Don’t ask how much the job pays right off the bat. Let them tell you.
Don’t ask about vacation time, ditto.

If the interviewer is female, for god’s sake don’t look at her breasts. Keep your eyes firmly focused on her face at all times.

Don’t hit on the receptionist/secretary. If you do get hired, she has the power to make or break you–formidable ally, equally formidable enemy. Be very polite to her. And don’t check out her breasts, either.

Don’t forget your resume. Carry it in a (new) 9 x 12 envelope (or a briefcase, of course, if you own one), so it looks good and if you drop it, it doesn’t get all dirty and flutters all over the floor. Have a copy that the interviewer can keep–don’t cluelessly say, “Oops, that’s my only copy, could you make a xerox…”

From a purely personal perspective, don’t let the interview freak you out too much. When I first got out of college, I was terrified of job interviews. Not only do you have to say the right things and make a good first impression, but you have to be able to put up with the rejection of not getting the job if things don’t work out.

It turns out that interviews are not nearly as bad as I expected, and the interviewers seemed to understand that I was nervous and did a good job putting me at ease. I ended up doing a lot better than I expected. So if you find yourself tossing and turning the night before, do your best to take a deep breath and relax. Everybody has to go through this kind of thing.

If you don’t get the job, at least you’ll walk out of there with a job interview under your belt, and you’ll be much more confident and experienced for the next time around.

Good luck!

Thanks for all the tips. I feel pretty good going into this. I need to spend a few more minutes reviewing the questions that my friend mentioned and plotting out my answers in case those or similar questions are asked.