Another school year is coming to a close, which for many people my age means that it’s high time to start looking for jobs. The actual process of applying for jobs – editing your resume, typing and retyping cover letters, filling out applications that basically ask for the information that you already provided on your resume, etc. – can be profoundly tiresome as you fight every urge of retreating to Netflix and calling it a day. And then the waiting game begins. And then by some miracle, out of the dozens of applications you have submitted, you manage to get one interview. You’re elated, ecstatic that there is at least one employer, one beacon of hope, out there that is willing to give you a chance to prove yourself worthy of an entry level position. And then it hits you – what if this interview goes awry? Will anyone else call you back? Will you have to go back to square one and keep submitting your edited-to-death-resume to more and more companies? What if no one hires you? Your entire future is riding on this one interview, and you can’t help but feel a little more than mildly overwhelmed with the whole situation. As someone who has sat on both sides of the interview, these are a few things I have learned over the past few years that should be remembered before, during, and after an interview.
I’ve had my fair share of interviews over the past few years and I, much like pretty much everyone else, have completely been biffed in the jugular the first few times I went in for these interviews because I was severely unprepared for them. Prior to my freshman year of college, I had never been interviewed for a job before, and so I had no idea what to expect, and I didn’t know what kinds of questions I’d be asked. Because I didn’t know what to expect, I tensed up, and this anxiety and tension showed when I was being asked questions – I stumbled on my words, I struggled to convey what I wanted to say, I repeated the same things over and over again. This is bound to happen with any interview you take part in. The important thing to remember is to relax. Before going into the interview, try not to think about the outcome, because getting too ahead of yourself and psyching yourself out are what really hit you hard. Instead, think about what you are going to say that will sell yourself in the best possible way. If thinking about the actual interview is still too much to handle, go into a different head space that you are most comfortable in – do whatever will help you relax the most, and your calmness will show in your interview.
2. Be professional
Regarding the previous bullet point, relaxing is a good thing, but you don’t want to be too relaxed to the point where it comes off as unprofessional. This includes how you present yourself outwardly with your mannerisms, the way you speak, and how you carry yourself overall. Remember – you want this job, and you want to put your best foot forward. Also keep in mind that the person that is meeting with you set aside time from their day to interview you – make their time with you worth it, and don’t waste their time.
3. Sell yourself
Now is not the time to be modest. Let the person that is interviewing you know why you deserve the position – include any and all academic, leadership, and job experiences that are relevant to the position you are interviewing for. Most people don’t usually sit and think about everything they have accomplished in their lives – there’s just no time to do that when you’re busy accomplishing the things that you are! But if there is one instance where that is a necessity, it would be during a job interview. Don’t be afraid that you’re speaking too much about yourself – this is an interview, that’s what you’re supposed to do. Remember – you’re not bragging, you’re letting your potential employer know what sets you apart from all of the other applicants, and why you deserve this position.
4. Ask questions
While interviews are meant to be professional, they shouldn’t feel like an interrogation. Ask questions when necessary – before, after, or during the interview. Whether you ask personal questions, try to make small talk before the interview, or have legitimate questions about the position, make sure they’re heard. Asking questions shows the person that is interviewing you that you sincerely care about the position, the company, and that you’re an overall personable individual. In my own experiences, some of my best interviews felt like conversations. Remember – they’re not just interviewing you, you’re interviewing them as well.
5. You got this.
You got this.