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Interview Tips 101

As an overactive, aggressive, borderline annoying Politics Major, I have had my fair share of interviews. I have interviewed for everything ranging from pizza to workout clothes, and I can honestly say, what a boss expects in an interview is the same across the board. With the summer internship season fast approaching, its time I shared some of my secrets.

The Basics

1. Don’t be Late: It’s so simple I feel as though I shouldn’t even mention it, but show up on time. Start the interview off on the right foot, and be there five minutes early.  It’s a small part of the interview, but it could be the one thing that costs you the job. Don’t make it easy for your future employer to cross your name off the short list.

2. Bring a Resume:  I do not care if you are applying to work at a tanning salon, a pizza shop, or a corporate firm, bring a resume. Nothing looks more professional then a young 20 year old who cares enough to take the time and print out the reasons why they are qualified. In fact, I always print 3 copies because one inevitably always crinkles, and the other two are for the off chance more than one interviewer is present.

3. Have a good handshake: Another very small detail, but looking an employer in the eye and giving a firm handshake can make you memorable; a necessity when the applicant pool is sizeable.  A firm handshake demonstrates you are serious about the position and you’re someone to be respected.

 

Level Two

1. Know Your Future Employer: Spend some time, and do the research about your future employer. Pick out several specific aims they strive to achieve, and explain what you can offer to their team. It is important to be confident, but do not brag about your skills. Simply demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job, and how you can best serve them.

2. Know your Resume: Anything written on your resume is fair game, and so it is important to be prepared to answer any and all questions regarding material you have deemed yourself an expert on.

3. Answer the Question: Many times in group-interviews I have sat back and listened to a fellow applicant talk about being a lifeguard and saving lives, which sounds well and good, but they forget to mention what the connection is to the question. If the employer asks, “Why Lululemon?” “Why this Congressman’s office?” Pick one key aspect about the company, or the office and connect it to one key aspect about yourself. The trick is to be endearing, but direct.

Advanced

1. Non-Verbal Language: Your posture can give away your persona in 3 seconds and your eye contact sets the comfort level. Sit up straight, relax your shoulders, and lean off to the side slightly to demonstrate your are intently listening to what your future employer has to say.  In addition, know the position you are applying for. Is the office more fun or more reserved? Is the office more Southern or more Midwestern? Be sure to make strong eye contact, but don’t stare for too long. These underlying details subconsciously send a message to the employer and its key to make sure that message is a positive one.

2. Don’t necessarily be Yourself:  Personally, I am a bit aggressive at times. Other friends of mine are too soft-spoken—as in you quite literally cannot hear them. The trick isn’t to simply just show up and let it all hang out, the key is to quickly assess what type of personality your interviewer has, and play to your strengths. If you immediately gauge they enjoy reading about the Middle East based on the books on the coffee table, prepare a few quick talking points in your head. Notice the hiking picture with the kids on the desk and work your passion for the outdoors into the conversation. It makes you personable, but catered to their interests. Remember you are a product and you always advertise with your audience in mind.

3.Don’t be afraid to admit you do not know something Aristotle once said the wise man knows what he knows, and knows what he does not know. It is okay to admit you are not up to date on a current event (although you should read the highlights of CNN or BBC before you leave) the trick is how you admit it. Let’s say the question is, “Where do you see your self in 5 years time, what is the ultimate career goal?” I have often struggled with this because I do not know, but I have found that employers love the following answer:

“To be quite honest, 5 years ago I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do. However, through my classes and previous internships I have learned a lot a lot about what I don’t like. With each step away from my old aspiration, I am moving forward and gathering bits and pieces of what I do enjoy along the way. I think the best answer to your question is that I do not know, but I do possess a strong work ethic, and the ability to recognize when my strengths are being best utilized. I hope to find a job that incorporates all of these aspects and leaves me fulfilled.”

And lastly….

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