With the winter semester just coming to an end, it might seem a little premature to start thinking about your summer plans. It’s not. Most students start thinking about their summer way in advance, especially if it involves a long process of applications and interviews. Maybe you have your eyes set on an internship? Or perhaps you are thinking about volunteering at your dream organization to get your foot in the door? Whatever the plan is, these days it is likely going to include an interview.
Interviews get a bad rep. Intimidating, high pressure, sweaty and nervous are words that immediately come to mind when we think about them. Although a lot of the time interviews are intimidating and nerve wracking, they do not have to be. Being well prepped can make all the difference between landing the job and not. Here are interview tips every accomplished, confident, educated person (like yourself) should know.
- Bring hard copies. Although it might seem old fashioned, bringing a hard copy of your resume, your application, your cover letter, your business card – whatever you think is relevant – shows your potential employer that you are prepared and it looks super impressive. Pro tip: also bring a pen.
- Eye contact is key. Make it when you introduce yourself, while you are conversing, when you say bye – pretty much make eye contact the whole time (but not weirdly or intensely, just like you would when you are talking to your professor or your S.O.’s parents).
- Research, research, research. Doing your homework on the organization and making specific references rooted in data shows off your research skills while also conveying the message that you want – and deserve – this position.
- Make life experience references. Forbes, the business magazine, says one of the most common questions asked in interviews is “tell me about yourself.” They also say don’t blow it by outlining your achievements and professional experience listed on your resume. Tell them about why you want and deserve this job – how did your childhood influence you? Why are you the perfect match for the description? How will the company benefit from hiring you? These answers are the ones that will make you the most memorable.
- Prep for the weakness question. The dreaded “what is your weakness” question confounds even the most experienced of interviewees. Supplement whatever your weakness is with ways you have been working to improve it – it shows that you are proactive and not afraid to admit your shortcomings. Pro tip: stay away from a canned answer like “I’m too much of a perfectionist.”
- A firm handshake. When you meet and say goodbye to your interviewers, make eye contact, smile and give a firm handshake – one up-and-down is enough.
- Ask a question yourself. At the end of the interview, your potential employer might ask you if you have any questions – and you always should. Asking informed questions shows you are intelligent, that you researched the organization, and that you are making an informed decision when accepting the offer.
- Dress the part. It is always better to overdress than underdress, but you want to dress for the position you want. Wearing a subtle fashion statement can also make you stand out from your competition. Try a statement necklace, a bracelet from your recent travels to Thailand, a tasteful tie with a quirky pattern.
- Be yourself. Try to emphasize that you are authentic, upbeat and concise. People are more likely to hire people they want to work with.
- Follow up after the interview. Within 24 hours of finishing, send a personalized email – or go the step above and send a handwritten card. It shows your gratitude and conveniently puts you at the front of your employer’s mind.
By Bianca Chan
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