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How to Interview Like a Pro

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

It’s almost April, which means that you’re probably starting to prepare for interviews for summer internships or future jobs, if you’re one of the lucky seniors who’s made it that far. While scheduling an interview can be exciting (you have managed to stand out from the other applications enough to warrant personal contact) it can also be pretty daunting, especially the first few times you experience an interview setting.

Getting nervous yet? Have no fear; we at HCK are here to guide you on your internship or job search journey with a few foolproof tricks to make your interview stand out from the rest: 

1. Dress up, but not too muchThough how you dress might depend on the position for which you’re interviewing, dressing business causal is typically the way to go. In general, a pair of black dress pants or a pencil skirt on bottom with a solid colored sweater, blazer, or button down shirt on top works for any interview. You could even wear a modest dress with a sweater or blazer if that’s more your style. The goal is to look clean and put together, but also to be comfortable—avoid wearing clothes that will be stiff or scratchy during your interview (as if you needed something else to worry about).

2. Make sure you know what you’re interviewing forThis one seems like a no-brainer, but when you’re balancing applying to several positions with similar job descriptions, it can be easy to mix up the specifics of the different positions. Make sure you know the precise title of the job, what the company’s values and goals are, and how your qualifications match the job requirements. Let Google Search be your best friend and get to know the company you could possibly be working (or interning) for!

3. Don’t come empty handedIf you’re applying for a job for which it’d make sense to bring along some of your work, do it! This applies to a lot of editorial or advertising jobs, or anything that requires proof of artistic abilities. Bring along a sample essay or article that you’ve written, or a few images from your portfolio. And most importantly, don’t forget to bring along a copy of your resume, preferably one that’s updated and tailored to the specific job you’re interviewing for.

4. Prepare your elevator speechWhat is an elevator speech, you might ask? It’s a short summarizing statement that should basically say: “This is why I’m great, these are my career goals, and here’s why I’d be great at this job.” The idea is that the speech should be powerful, yet concise, as if you were being forced to give a speech within the time span of an elevator ride. In general, keep it under 60 seconds, and be prepared to give this speech at a moment’s notice. It works particularly well in response to the dreaded interview question, “So tell me a little bit about yourself.”

Things you could mention in this speech:

  • Your major (if relevant)
  • Previous internships
  • Leadership experiences in college that show you overcoming an obstacle 
  • What your passionate about and why you’re interested in this field

Things not to mention: 

  • Your life story 
  • Your pets (unless they offer an example of leadership or overcoming an obstacle, as in if you lead a group that volunteered at an animal shelter)
  • Your significant other (no matter how fascinating and inspiring he or she may be)

5. Ask questionsYou may be the interviewee, but that doesn’t mean you don’t get to ask any questions of your own! Coming prepared with some well-articulated and thoughtful questions will show your potential future employer that you’ve done your research. So, what kinds of questions can you ask?

  • Who would I be working under?
  • What do you like about working at this company?
  • What is the office environment like?
  • What is a typical day in this position like?

6. Say thank youSend a thank you note to your interviewer(s) and be sure to mail them as soon after your interview as you can—later that day or early the next day is best. Why? Because manners are timeless, and receiving a handwritten note from you just might make them remember you more than the twenty equally-qualified potential employees that came before you and the thirty that followed you. Why not give yourself an edge?

Do you feel ready yet? We hoped you would! Now go out there and show those employers who’s the boss, with the end goal that soon they will hopefully become your actual boss. 

[Sources About.com; The Muse; Intern Match

Ally Bruschi is a senior political science major at Kenyon College. She spent this past summer interning as a writer with both The Daily Meal, a digital media group  dedicated to "all things food and drink" and The Borgen Project, a non-profit organization that partners with U.S. policymakers to alleviate global poverty. Before entering the "real world" of jobs, however, Ally spent many summers as a counselor at an all-girls summer camp in Vermont, aka the most wonderful place on earth. A good book, a jar of peanut butter, a well-crafted Spotify playlist, and a lazy dog could get her through even the worst of days.