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How to Nail a Job Interview

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Carleton chapter.

Whether you’re finishing up your degree, applying for co-op or just looking for a little extra cash, job interviews are the most important part of the process. Here are some tips to giving yourself the best possible chance at nailing that dream position.

1. Dress the part

Business casual is the only universally accepted dress code for job interviews. Wear dress pants or a knee-length skirt with a nice top (preferably collared) and blazers always look professional. Avoid extreme prints or colours, and make sure to cover any tattoos and remove any facial piercings. This is not an ideal opportunity to flaunt your personal style—the less distracting your outfit is, the more your confidence and personality can shine through! Shani MacIsaac, a member of the Carleton Law Society, says that, “Blazers are the ultimate confidence booster. When I’m wearing a blazer I feel invincible.”

2. Be early

It may seem obvious, but there is nothing that reflects worse on you than being late for the interview. There are certain things that employers value in their employees and at the top of that list is being organized and timely. Being late says that you do not value the job opportunity, so be early! But just how early should you be? Aim to be at least a half hour early to the venue, but only 5-10 minutes early for the actual interview.   


3. Be prepared

Take time before the interview to rehearse answers to possible questions, and if possible run through them with a friend. Bring a few copies of your resume, cover letter, references and any other documentation you could need for the position (and keep them unfolded and organized!). You should also bring a note pad and pen, in case you need to take down any information. In the event you are hired on the spot, it is also a good idea to have a few pieces of ID on you, as well as your SIN card or number. As Zakk Collins, a second-year Carleton student says, “Be prepared; don’t be awkward.” 

4. Be honest

Do not inflate your achievements; they should be able to stand up on their own. Lying at an interview will backfire quickly if you end up getting the position. If they ask you something you genuinely do not know the answer to, simply tell them you do not know and promise to find out the answer as soon as possible. This shows initiative and directs attention away from the fact you do not know. Do not deny any faults you may have, but instead turn them into something positive (chronic procrastination = works well under pressure). MacIsaac advises applicants to, “Relax, be yourself. You’re probably your worst critic anyway, so as long as you believe in yourself you will do great.”

5. Be calm, cool and collected

Take time to answer any questions you are asked; give yourself time to speak, and be careful not to rush yourself or you may just end up sounding muddled. Also, be sure to turn off all electronic devices (especially your phone!) as it would look bad if they caused a disruption and that could also throw you off. Also, your use of language is a strong indicator of professionalism, so be sure to use sophisticated language as much as possible and avoid colloquialisms (and certainly no swearing!).

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Jasmine Williams is a fourth-year Journalism major, pursuing a minor in Film Studies at Carleton University. An internship at a recently launched online magazine prepared her for her new, exciting role as Campus Correspondent for Carleton University. She is never too far away from her iPhone and in her spare time, you can find her scrolling through various tumblr blogs while listening to Kings of Leon. After university, she hopes to pursue a career in online journalism.