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So you get that fateful call or email. Your heart beat quickens and your palms get sweaty, you start to feel queasy as your mind immediately starts racing over what possible leadership positions you’ve had as you slowly internalize that single word: interview.
For some people, interviews come naturally. They’re people people who prefer to express themselves in person rather than through a written application. Interviews are extremely important for recruiters and employers because they offer a personalized interaction with their applicant. You can gauge someone’s personality and interest much more readily in an interview than on paper. Whether it’s in person, on the phone, or through video interviews are essential for your final impression before the big decision. This blog will briefly go over what to do before, during, and after an interview so you can ace that big day and land your dream job.
Preparation is key. Make sure you know what type of interview you will be having, where it will be, how formal to dress, and who you will be interviewing with. If you are provided with the name of your interviewer make sure to look them up, so you have points of interest to bounce back to. If they give no name, refresh yourself on the job description, the company’s mission statement, and most importantly your own qualifications. Know your resume inside and out, but also be ready to provide some knew information. Think of important or unique experiences that might not have a place on a resume but make you stand out. Be ready to tie your qualifications to the company’s values.
It’s ok to be nervous. Confidence and cool-headedness are also good, but over confidence and unprepared aloofness can catch you off guard during your interview, so it’s important to stay alert. Within the first 10 seconds of your interview try and make an immediate connection whether it’s through a handshake, a comment, or an introduction otherwise you are setting the tone for an awkward or hostile interview. Never interrupt your interviewer, but also don’t choke or seem too quiet. No one likes a chatterbox or a wallflower during an interview. Within reason you want the Goldilocks amount: just right. Brevity, clarity, and quality are key. You want to speak slowly and clearly enough so they can understand you, add enough detail so you seem interesting, but keep your answers direct and concise so it doesn’t seem like you’re rambling and they lose you. Answer the question with your first statement in a summary sentence and then proceed to elaborate so that they get each main point.
Some additional tips for interview success:
- Make sure to stand and smile (you can hear it in your tone)
- Avoid filler words and be sure to have your resume or the company website in front of you
- Make sure you are in a quiet environment free from interruptions and speak directly into the phone
- Plan ahead!!!
- Look directly at the camera
- Have good posture and smile
- Be aware of what you’re wearing and where you’re located (cleanliness, interruptions, lighting, connection, etc.)
- Plan ahead!!!
- Turn off your cell phone
- Don’t chew gum or wear anything too flashy or revealing (for interviews you want to seem professional and respectful)
- Keep the table clear (minimize distractions)
- Make eye contact with the interviewer(s) and keep your hands above the table (feel free to use hand motions)
- Plan ahead!!!
- Remember that this is not a competition setting. Often students think they are competing with their fellow interviewees, but in reality group interviews are always meant to demonstrate people’s cooperation, collaboration, and teamwork skills.
- Make sure to speak, but do not hog the stage because this hurts you and everyone else.
- Be friendly, even if you don’t get a long with someone in the group, and don’t ignore others and simply focus on the interviewer.
- Take the tasks and questions seriously, and make sure to think about what the implications of a certain task or question are.
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2 Common Questions:
“Tell Me About Yourself”-Keep your audience in mind with this one. There is a lot to you, and while your dog and favorite color could be very interesting, you want to keep the job and company in mind. Mention your goals, experience, and enthusiasm. Be sure to include a memorable detail that evokes some sort of emotion that you can lock in with the interviewer. Everything and anything you say should have a purpose or demonstrate some sort of qualification or trait.
“What is your greatest weakness?”-The dreaded question. Aren’t you supposed to make yourself look good? Why would they want to know this? Do they want me to fail? This is actually a very important question for interviewers because it allows them to test your honesty and gauge your personality. Be genuine; avoid things like “working too hard” or “I’m a perfectionist”. Instead think of a personal challenge you’ve overcome or something that seems small to others but if important for you. Cite an experience, relate it to your position, but don’t choose something so bad you can’t explain or defend.
“Tell me about a time you experienced failure and how you reacted to it”- This is an equally important question for employers. They know that they can get lists and examples of things you did well and successfully, but everybody makes mistakes. They have no use for someone who can’t work under stress or handle adversity, so make sure to have a resilience example up your sleeve. Be sure to not focus too much on the story, though. Be brief with the set up and then elaborate on your actions, reaction, and solutions and how this makes you qualified for “x expectation” of the job you’re applying for.
Thank you notes are necessary. Make sure to send a follow up thank you email within two days of your interview (but make sure to wait at least a few hours after.) Say that you appreciate the experience, reiterate your interest, and mention anything specific you might have addressed in the interview. Don’t write too much, but make sure to follow up, especially if you haven’t heard back from them yet. Hopefully they will respond with a wonderful email saying “Congratulations! We are pleased to offer you…”, but even if you’re left with the lousy “Dear applicant, unfortunately…” you know that at least you tried your best.