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How to Ace Your Upcoming Interviews

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

It’s that time of the year again – summer job hunting. As we slowly approach exam season, this tedious task adds more stress and pressure on top of our already hectic schedule. Many of you are probably currently in the interview preparation process, or you may have already done a few. Whether the outcome was good or bad, you should be proud of yourself for making it to the interview round. If you find yourself stuck in negative emotions after a rough interview, I hope this article can help you regain confidence and direct your focus towards your following interview. No matter what stage you are currently in, it is always helpful to learn a few tips so that the process of landing your next dream job is easier.   

Before the Big Day  

I find that the most crucial part of interview preparation is to research and understand the company’s missions, values and visions. Oftentimes, you can find these under the “About Us” section on the company website, or they would be listed on the hiring advertisement. This step is essential as companies always look for individuals whose personal goals and values align with theirs. This ensures that employees and the management strive for common goals in a collaborative effort. Extensive research can give you an idea of the company culture and can be incorporated into your answers to demonstrate your eagerness and passion for the position. If you have already done this, then it is time to brainstorm some potential interview questions. I have a document where I keep all my interview questions from preparation and actual interviews. It is definitely useful since I can recycle my answers and look back for future reference. If you are having trouble coming up with questions, there are plenty of them on the internet that are related to the position you applied to. Once you have a list of them, you can then start practicing and rehearsing your answers.  

In the Moment  

I’m sure all of us have experienced interview nerves some time in our lives. Personally, they’ve gotten worse ever since the start of the virtual interview era. The lack of face-to-face interaction took away the opportunity for the two parties to build connections. After many trials and errors, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you imagine the whole process as having a deep conversation with a close friend over Zoom, it can actually calm your nerves, especially in the beginning few minutes, and as you gradually get more comfortable with the interviewer, the entire process will feel more like a story-sharing session. Speaking of story-sharing, the easiest way to have your answer stand out is to provide examples of a similar past experience that you’ve encountered or taken part in. For some questions, there is only so much you can say if you are just outlining the steps you will take. Having real-life examples can spice up your answer, making it more engaging and convincing. Lastly, be sure to take the opportunity to ask your interviewer questions. This is when you can dig deeper about the company and position to see if it’s a good fit for you while also showing your strong interest and curiosity for the company.  

After the Stressful Time  

So, you are done with the interview; what’s next? Well, remember the document you have created during preparation? Now is the time to consolidate those interview questions and answers in this master sheet of questions. If you didn’t answer them as well during the actual interview, you can take this opportunity to reflect and perfect your answers, so when you get asked the same question next time, you will already have them in your pocket. Like many other skills, interview skills also take practice to master. It is essential to recognize that learning takes place through experience, and we need to keep exposing ourselves to the stressful environment in order to adapt and improve. Skills require time and patience to develop; attending more interviews and applying what you’ve learned from previous ones allows you to be more confident and relaxed next time. I used to think that people are just natural with interviews, but slowly I’ve noticed that the same answer can be applied to various questions. Over time, the answer comes out automatically when I hear a specific word in the question. As long as you put in the time and effort, practice does make it perfect.  

Now that we’ve run through the before, during, and after of the interview, I hope you feel a little more prepared for your upcoming ones. Remember, no one knows better about you than yourself. Take every opportunity to showcase your best self and convince interviewers that you are the candidate they’ve been looking for all this time. So, are you ready to ace it?

Catherine Yu

McMaster '23

Catherine is a fourth-year McMaster student majoring in Kinesiology. Outside of school, she loves to sing, dance, and go on hikes with friends and family! You will often catch her at the candy aisle in the grocery store.