Interviews are stressful.
It’s easy to feel anxious sitting across from a stranger that’s asking tough questions and judging you the whole time. Not the most ideal, but you’re an SLNer. You’ve got this.There are ways to go in and out of a job interview feeling confident and empowered. If you haven’t checked it out already, here’s an SLN article on the do’s and don’ts of job interviews that goes hand in hand with this toolkit.
Without further ado, here are some tips to owning any interview:
Keep Your Chin Up, Kid
It’s normal to feel intimidated when applying for a new job. My first job was in retail, and I had zero idea of what I was doing when I applied. I was scared because I thought that the others being interviewed had more experience than me, but experience isn’t exactly everything; I learned that exuding confidence is essential. If you walk in there with your head held high and your back straight as an arrow, you’ll make an awesome impression.
Sure, managers prefer it if you have experience, but there’s no reason why you can’t get a job that you haven’t done before. I walked into my first interview telling myself “you got this,” and a few days later I got the job. Show off your sterling attitude and a strong willingness to be a team player and you’ll be well-liked. Watch Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk on using body language to relay confidence to others to help land a job.
It won’t look good on you if you’re not on time for your interview. Your interviewer has set aside a specific time slot for you; being late for the meeting is not only unprofessional, but disrespectful. On the flip side, showing up a few minutes early demonstrates that you care and are eager for the interview. Just don’t be too early.
Hey, I Know That!
You don’t want to walk into an interview blind. It never hurts to do some research on the company you’re applying to. What do they sell? What are their values? What is the company culture like? If you’re going in for an interview at Lululemon, for example, don’t talk about how much you hate yoga pants. Or Yoga for that matter.
I work for a retail store that sells little girls’ clothing, and a lot of the questions in the interview were based around the product. Without knowing about the company, I would not have known how to respond. Talk to employees or friends for more information, and don’t forget to to Google the company—look at their mission statement and “About Us” section to gather more information.
The Resume = Foot in Door
You want to make sure that your resume is incredible and ready to go, because they are bound to ask you questions about it. Don’t be afraid to brag! Did you win a scholarship last year? Write that down. Do you volunteer regularly? Mention that, too. Employers want someone who is driven and ambitious, and there’s no shame in letting them know about your accomplishments. Format it correctly and proofread it a few times. It’s a good idea to have a parent or friend look it over it, as well, since you don’t want spelling errors on something a potential manager is going to read. Check out The Ideal Application if you want your resume to stand out.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions during the interview. Employers love someone who gets engaged in a conversation, and who seems genuinely interested in learning more. Look animated and invested in the conversation that spurs from your questions. Forming an early connection with your interviewer can earn you lots of points.
Look Good. Feel Good.
Looking your best for an interview is important. Impressions are made quickly and are often hard to change. Your first chance at making a good impression is dressing well. Showing that you care about your appearance shows employers that you’re going to care about your work. They can see that you have put effort into making yourself look presentable, and that’s important.
Don’t be afraid to approach a stylist at your local mall and ask for advice. They can show you clothing that’s appropriate for work. If you present yourself nicely, your appearance will definitely make you stand out. Pick something modest, simple, and professional; black blazers, dress shirts, and dress pants are usually the way to go for everyone.
Practice Makes Perfect
Don’t be unprepared for when you’re asked questions during the interview. When I go for interviews, I usually look over practice questions online. Simply Google “job interview questions,” and bam! Pick out a few and have a friend ask them to you.
Keep on Smiling
During the interview, it’s crucial to emit a positive attitude. I was once part of a group interview and one girl openly complained how she didn’t like to lift things that were too heavy. Needless to say, she didn’t get the job. While you don’t have to jump for joy at everything the interviewer is saying, it’s not hard to nod your head in encouragement, give a small smile, and be open to everything they are telling you.
Stay calm throughout the interview. You may be asked questions that you don’t feel prepared for, but rather than panicking, think about the question carefully and respond as well as you can. If you handle unexpected questions well, it will show the interviewer that you’re able to step back, analyze the situation quickly, and come back into it with a fresh answer.
A Final Note
At the end of the interview, don’t forget to shake hands and voice how much you’ve appreciated their time. The interviewer should tell you when they will follow up with you, but don’t be afraid to call them if they don’t. Not sure how to do a follow-up? “Sealing the Deal: Why Saying “Thank You” is Important” should help.
Don’t be disheartened if the interview doesn’t go perfectly. No matter what, keep trekking on and tackling those interviews.
Want to stand out even more in your interview? Check out these articles: “Why Should We Hire You?”, “If You’re Hired What Would Be Your Impact?” and “Think Fast!”
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.