So you are going on a job interview. Congratulations! While I know that you have gone on a few of these in the past, you will discover that people hiring college students are looking for something a little different than people hiring high schoolers. When you a hire a high schooler you really just want them not to show up to work stoned and maybe maaaaybe go 5 minutes with out answering their cellphones once in a while (the things we do for cheap labor).
When you a hire a college student (at least, in my experience of hiring college students, which I now do with some regularity) you are using this interviewing process as a learning experience for them, but I see it not as a, "I am not going to hire you just because you showed up 'almost' on time and are learning" rather a, "When you don't get a phone call from me, use it as a chance to learn something about not being terrible at this," learning experience.
And guess what, chances are most of the college students you are competing against for these jobs probably do not have meddling older sisters to tell them how its done. So, anytime you would like to show your thanks in snowcaps and a diet Green Tea Ginger Ale, is fine with me. You lucky devil. You're welcome.
I will say that if you follow these steps exactly and you don't get the job, you have free reign to call your ex-potential-company-of-employment whatever sort of conjugation of "douchebag" you would like.
So - first things first - you better research the living daylights out of this company. You have a google, use it. "But this company out in po'dunk nowheresville doesn't have a website." Yeah, but chances are they have been written up in the local newspaper, or are listed as an external link as someone else's website. Whatever it is - you can figure out a way to make it work. Figure out a way to bring it up in conversation.
"I want to work here because I truly believe in your mission, [insert mission from website here], and think I would be a valued member of your organization."
"I read about your work with [insert thing you read in the paper/other website] and am excited to be involved in this kind of work."
Here's the thing, this stuff sounds real dumb, but people eat it up, especially from college kids. Its one thing to want a job, its another thing to want a job with this particular hiring-college-kids-because-they-don't-need-health-insurance jamspot.
And then you get to the interview. And you arrive 5-10 minutes early. Not any more or any less. If you roll up 30 minutes early, people are going to be annoyed. They have way more important things to do, like play on facebook, and troll around the office looking for free cupcakes.
And good lord, keep your flip flops at home. And your jeans. And your bookbag. You know what you do bring? Your freakin.resume. Maybe I skipped a tweet somewhere, but I am pretty sure you should bring a copy of your resume with you to every single interview. Not because they'll ask for it, but because on the off chance that they do, you haven't failed at the very first request they've ever made of you.
And during the interview, remember, the thing people like to talk about most?? Is themselves. So talk about why you're qualified and answer all their questions (and for the love of god, spend 20 minutes before you walk into the interview thinking about a time you had a challenge/had to over come something/failed so you don't have to make something up on the spot). But then! Talk about them! Ask them about their background and why they like working at whatever place is underpaying them to do way more work than they should be. Ask them what they would ask if they were being interviewed (oh man! Double bonus points!) and be genuinely interested in what they have to say.
And then? You leave. You can email the next day to say thank you for the opportunity to interview but that is IT. Do not call, or text or bother them. Believe me, if they want to hire you, they probably will.
Be friendly. Smile a lot. Ask questions. Be excited about whatever they are saying. Remember fun facts that you've already learned and drop them like they are hot. In real life you're going to need actually qualifications and proof that you deserve the job, so enjoy this brief moment where being more prepared counts for all the marbles.
Wear deodorant. Don't play with your hair.
your big sister.