Interview Tips for the Ambitious College Student

It’s that dreaded time of year again. Applications for jobs and internships are being released. Every cover letter, resume, and CV has to look spectacular. You have a million things on your to do list and all you want is to get that perfect job. You hit submit on those applications and take a deep breath, only to be stressed out in a matter of weeks when the interviews begin to happen. Have no fear, the following interview tips will get you through the process with ease.


Be Genuine

We all know you’re supposed to be professional in an interview, but employers can smell fake from miles away. Don’t walk in an interview trying to be someone you’re not. It’ll come off wrong and you’ll end up selling yourself short. Let your interviewer see your genuine self while also remaining professional. Very few people want to hire an emotionless robot, so let your personality shine.


Ask Questions

I have always hated this one. “What if I don’t have any?!” I’d ask, panic stricken. Come prepared with questions already. Whether it is about the job, what kind of things they’re looking for, questions about the company, where the last people who held this position are now, etc. You can Google it and literally find hundreds of questions to ask. And if all else fails and your interviewer has answered every single question you came prepared with, ask about them. How long have you been at the company? What do you like most? What’s your favorite memory here? It shows a genuine interest in the company as well as the person sitting before you, because, believe it or not, they are human as well.


Practice Your Answers

There is absolutely nothing wrong with practicing your answers before the big day. Look online for common interview questions and allow yourself to be prepared. I always write down the questions and even write down my answers beforehand because it makes me think about what I want to say and allows me to see it on the page.

Tip: If you are having a phone interview you can have your answers right in front of you as well.


Come Equipped

Bring a copy of your resume/cover letter/CV with you to the interview. It makes you look well-organized and prepared. Find a nice folder (meaning make sure Hello Kitty isn’t on the front of it) to put these things in. A notebook and pen are also not a bad idea. You don’t necessarily have to take notes. It may even put your interviewer on edge if you’re constantly scribbling while they ask questions, but in case you need to take some information down at the end it will, once again, make you look professional, prepared, and down to business.


Be Pleasant and Enthusiastic

I know I said to be yourself, but it is also important to be polite and seemingly excited for the position. If you’re rude or seem like you’re in a bad mood you probably won’t get the job. No one wants someone who is already burned out on day one and also no one wants to work with a grump.


Nail That Handshake

As someone who has never even interviewed someone before, I have experienced some weak handshakes in my days. It’s a total letdown. Really, it is. You go in to shake someone’s hand and you just get a limp, rag-like gesture in response. I was taught to shake hands when I was a freshman in college and I’ve noticed others’ handshakes ever since. The trick is lining up the fleshy part of your hand in-between the index and thumb with theirs. When that is lined up then you grab firmly and shake.


Interviewing with a Panel

You’re nervous enough about having to interview with one person when all of a sudden five people walk into the room. Remain calm. Eye contact is huge here. When you answer your questions you should try to (naturally) make eye contact with every person. You should probably begin and end your answer by looking directly at the person who asked it then casually make your way around the room. Avoiding certain people’s gaze might make them feel uneasy about you or even left out. They will definitely take note if you can handle yourself well in front of a larger group of people.


A few obvious ones we all know but it would be weird if I didn’t say it

Dress professionally. Smile. Thank your interviewer for their time (they have lives, too, you know). Be flexible. Ask when you’ll be hearing from them. Etc.

Weird Tip I Heard Once

For the life of me I can’t remember who told me this, but if you’re at an interview in a restaurant don’t season anything until you taste it. Apparently, according to this forgotten source in my head, employers will want to see that you are willing to try something as it is before making changes to it. For example, with a budget they want to know you’re going to try to make it work before you throw money around everywhere. To me, salting your fries is a little different than handling company money but hey, what do I know?