Shaking hands during an interviewPreparing to make a lasting and unique impression on a job interview can cause nerves to build and stress to mount.

If this sounds familiar, don’t fret, online students. There are a slew of other candidates feeling a similar amount of anxiety. It’s natural, and on the plus side, it proves you’re serious about the opportunity.

Before thinking about the daunting nature of an upcoming interview, think about why the employer invited you back in the first place. There’s a certain level of interest involved.

Then go over these eight tips, which hopefully will put you in position to ace the interview and wow the employer. Happy interviewing.

1. Arrive on time

Simple concept, but it still can’t be stressed enough. Many employers associate your punctuality to the interview to your punctuality in the future, if selected for the job. Nothing would be worse than setting a bad precedent of showing up late, especially unannounced. If an emergency comes up, call the employer and let him/her know. If you're unfamiliar with the location at which you are interviewing, scope it out ahead of time. It is worth it to be on time.

2. Dress to impress

A professional, clean appearance will help you make a memorable first impression. Should you make it to a final round of interviews, where your experience and skill-set are closely aligned with another serious candidate, what could a potential deciding factor be for the employer? Answer: the first impression.

3. Bring numerous copies of resume

Typically, human resource representatives will make you aware of how many company representatives are scheduled to join the interview. You’ll want a separate copy of your resume (printed on resume paper, not printer paper) for each company representative. It’s always a good idea to bring three or four extra copies in case anyone else decides to sit in at the last minute.

4. Be likable

Obvious? Sure, but take a moment to consider what being likeable encompasses. Smile and engage in small talk with the employer before the formal interview takes place. Let your personality show. Make eye contact to reinforce your confidence. Now, this comes with an asterisk. Don’t be a know-it-all. There’s a happy medium you want to achieve that combines an enthusiastic attitude with a confident demeanor. Finally, when you sit down for the interview, lean forward in the chair with your back straight. Leave the slumping to the La-Z-Boy recliner for when you get home.

5. Leave ‘em with a hook

First impressions are vital. Leaving the employer with something extra – a hook – is an added bonus. There’s a good chance the employer will talk to a handful of candidates, potentially dozens in the same week. It will be difficult to remember every candidate after interviews. However, if you leave the employer with something of substance – even something small – it could go a long way toward a return visit for another interview.

Identify something creative and interesting before the interview for added value. Did you grow up in five or 10 different states? Incorporate that into the small talk. Did you run in a marathon or 5K recently? Military members, you’ll likely talk about your service in the armed forces during the interview, but don’t be afraid to bring up something different and unique about your experience at the end. It will leave the employer with something concrete to remember you by.

6. Tell employer specifically how you could benefit their company

Great tip to keep in mind. First, this tells the employer you did your research. It also displays you’ve already thought about ways to impact the company by combining your skill-set and experience with the company’s goals. The goal here is not to tell employers how to do their jobs, but simply to offer a way of envisioning yourself making a valuable contribution to the operation.

7. Follow up

An email is a perfectly acceptable way to follow up with an employer. It is, after all 2011, so don’t think that email is too informal. There are ways to compose articulate, professional follow-up emails that resonate with the employer.

That said, a hand-written follow-up note is the ultimate way to go. If you have the time and are serious about the opportunity, write by hand. Type the note first on your computer, so you know exactly what you want to say. Always write in blue or black pen.

Make the follow up short and to the point, but not too brief. Make sure to add in something that was discussed in the interview. Expand on a simple thank you. What was your topic of conversation in the small talk before or after the interview? Include a link in an email to a business article, or mention in a hand-written note what you read about after further research.

8. Relax

Get a good night sleep the night before the interview. Wake up and eat breakfast. Don’t interview on an empty stomach. Take deep breaths if you feel nervous or uptight. Take your time when answering the interview questions. It’s OK to pause and collect your thoughts after being asked a question.

Have you interviewed lately? What advice would you give students interviewing for a new position?

Want more job-related advice? Check out some of our recent blog entries, how to answer those tricky interview questionsdon't make these resume mistakes and how to use social media to land that next job.