How to Conquer a Job Interview

The Beatles

Imagine that you have an interview for your dream job in 2 weeks.  You feel: EXCITEMENT, you do your HAPPY DANCE; you call your best friend, THEN, YOU GET SUPER NERVOUS!!! I have got to start getting ready right now. How am I going to get ready?  What am I going to wear? Who can help me get ready? This may be how you feel when you learn you have a job interview and it is all completely normal. The best thing that you can do is prepare.

Today we will discuss how to interview the right way, what all the interview questions are really asking, and gain interview practice. The goal is for all of you to leave here feeling prepared for job, internship, or graduate school interviews especially with Employment Engagement day coming this week.

First things first: Prepare for the interview! This is more than choosing what to wear and actually practicing an interview with your career coach, those things are important, but here are a few simple things you can also do. Research the company- visit their website, find out the latest news going on in their organization, if you know anyone working at the company, talk to them! Connect with them via social media and read what those pages have to say. Become familiar with them so that when you are asked why you want to work there or what you know about the company, you have a strong answer. Interviewers want to know what you know about them. Find something from the website or social media that you can relate to and share that in your interview.

Your outfit says a lot about you; make sure it’s sending the right message! Do choose an outfit that you are comfortable in but is also professional. Dress for the job you want, not the one you have.  A white button down shirt and black pants are always in style!  Stick with neutral tones such as black, gray, khaki, and navy. Make sure you will not have a wardrobe malfunction by having your skirt and top a proper length. Pull your hair back if you have a tendency to fidget with it like I do. With jewelry, if you know it will distract you, don’t wear a lot.    You want to look confident and ready.

The next step is to begin practicing for the interview with your career coach.  It is also an excellent idea to video yourself practicing. An actual interview can be one on one or with a panel; you have to be ready for anything. As you answer questions, remember the interviewer may not ask the exact question that you practiced, but it will be similar. What you need to do is to craft or create concrete examples or stories to share to make you stand out! Brooks Harper discusses the importance of storytelling in his book, Why Should We Hire You, he says “That’s all interviewing is: Telling your story in a manner that persuades someone to hire you.”  Peggy Klaus discusses the same idea in her brag book; she says that an interview is the perfect time to brag. Interviewers are trying to get to know you so let your personality shine through with your words; don’t rely solely on your resume.  When speaking with her nephew Max, she emphasized the importance of bringing your resume to life. Once you have your examples and stories understand that you can use them with a variety of questions. Remember when answering questions to use the STAR method- situation, task, action, and results.

It’s important to be familiar with specific interview questions, but it’s more important to understand what type of question the interviewer is asking you.  According to a recent article from US News, 4 common types of interview questions are: straightforward, behavioral, situational, and brainteasers or skills test. If you understand what the interviewer is really asking you than you are able to answer specifically. Often people make mistakes in interviews by not answering the question that was asked. If an interviewer asks for a specific example, give them an example, don’t be vague.

At the end of the interview, you will have an opportunity to ask questions, don’t say you don’t have any to ask, you do!  The interview is also the time for you to ask questions about the company. Let’s go over a few sample questions for you as the interviewee to ask and why. At the ending of the interview remember to shake hands with everyone and collect contact info if possible. Send a thank you note to everyone involved in the process, it goes a long way. Follow up from an interview with a phone call or email to see how things are progressing, this shows that you are serious about the position and interested as well.

An interview can be intimidating, but if you will do your part to be ready, then you will succeed. Remember to practice interviewing, dress appropriately, share stories to make you stand out, and follow up!  Interviews are the deciding factor for you obtaining or not obtaining employment. Make your interview memorable in a good way. Be positive, confident, and professional. If you will follow the tips from this workshop, then you will be on your way to conquering any interviews that come your way.

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