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

The spring semester is always filled with job and internship applications that lead to interviews (sometimes, but that’s a different story), and I usually feel stressed as I try to put my best foot forward. I’m already nervous about hearing back about the application, so adding the interview on top of that sends me through the roof. See, I feel like I’m better on paper because I have time to consider my words and phrases and edit them as needed. With interviews, over the phone and in-person, you don’t have that ability. Until recently, I would just word vomit and never get the position. These tricks have helped me prepare for the interview and sound like the professional that I am.

Set Aside Time Before the Interview

To help ease those pre-interview nerves, make sure you set some time aside to collect yourself and get settled. During this time, practice mindfulness and meditation. Your heart is racing a mile a minute; take a few moments to breathe and ground yourself. I prefer to have at least 30 minutes before the interview to go over the job/internship description and make sure I can tailor my answers to relate to the duties that would be assigned to me. For phone interviews, giving yourself time before the call allows you to get comfortable wherever you’re going to sit for the interview. 

Make sure you let your roommates/apartmentmates/hallmates know that you’re about it interview! Nothing is worse than experiencing someone being too loud or distracting, whilst in the middle of an interview. 

Create a List of Generic Questions

This one sounds silly, but trust me, it’s a bit of a lifesaver. Make a list of questions that you think you might get asked during your interview. Take a few minutes to write out your responses to them and refine them as needed. This helps you get your mind into interview mode and think about the common themes you’ll discuss, whether related to your identity or the position. I found that writing out my strengths and weaknesses helped me a lot, and I was able to tailor my response, depending on the employer’s ideal candidate. Also, if you have your responses saved on a word doc and you’re by your computer during a phone interview, you can always have your responses pulled up as a reference! However, don’t rely on the doc every time; reading directly from the page sounds like you’re reading from a script. Employers don’t want that! Be sure to take advantage of the doc, but don’t forget to speak from the heart.

Do Your Research!

You probably already had to do a little research about the employer, before you applied to the job posting, but doing a little bit extra never hurts. I really like to see what an employer’s social media presence is like. That typically tells a lot about the company in terms of its goals and stances on certain matters. Other things you can research are the benefits offered, long term versus short term opportunities, schedule flexibility, etc. These are areas in which a lot of people typically have questions, after they have accepted the job offer. At the end of the interview, always ask your interviewer(s) what they like about the company, how long they’ve been there, any questions about the aforementioned areas that you came across during your research and whether they have any questions about your application. Doing the research beforehand allows you to complete the interview with a better understanding of what you’re getting yourself into, meaning you won’t be as nervous before the interview even happens!

Interviews can be absolutely nerve racking. Giving yourself time to settle down or preparing interview questions ahead of time can help ease those jitters. Putting yourself in the position of trying to provide the “right” answer (and surprise, there is never a “right” answer, only honest ones) is hard enough, so doing whatever you can to prepare yourself is the best thing to do. Even if you don’t get the position, which sucks, it isn’t the end of the world. You’ll come across the perfect position for you, and the employer will recognize your amazing talents. For now, figure out how to soothe your pre-interview nerves so you can shine!

Paige Pennebaker

Chapel Hill '21

Paige Pennebaker is an aspiring writer who attends UNC-Chapel Hill as a Senior during the day. She enjoys writing fiction and has been published on shortfictionbreak.com. While fiction is where her heart is, Paige also has a lot to say about the real world and how to get by.