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7 Tips For That Job Interview You’ve Been Dreading

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

Interviews can be terrifying for a lot of people. If you’ve never been to an official interview, I’ll set it up for you:

You find a great opportunity that doesn’t come around often. You schedule an interview with this panel or person. You walk into a room with total strangers, and these strangers ask you so many questions. These are questions you don’t have a study guide for – personal questions, difficult questions, and questions you really just don’t know how to answer. These people are intimidating, and the answers you say to them are the only thing between you and your dream job. You are so nervous, and it’s becoming difficult to think clearly. Finally, they ask the last stressful question. It’s over. You don’t even remember half of what you even said, and now you have to wait until the dreaded answer of whether or not your interview was great enough to get you the job.

If you have gone through this process before, does it sound familiar? I’ve sat through my fair share of internship and job interviews. I still have just as much (if not more) anxiety about interviews as any other person. Through all the interviews I’ve been to, I’ve learned ways to prepare, temporarily calm anxiety, and make yourself look professional.

1. Dress Accordingly

Despite what you may have heard, you don’t have to wear a business suit to every single interview. If you show up to a fast food restaurant in a pencil skirt and high heels, you will definitely stand out – probably not in a good way. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look nice. If you take the time to make yourself look presentable, you should be alright. Even if it’s an entry-level job during college, don’t show up to an interview in jeans and a ratty T-shirt. Depending on the level of professionalism within the job is how professional you should dress. Use this tip to your discretion, and maybe even do some research on how to dress for this type of job.

2. Study the Questions

Every interview will ask different questions. You may not be able to prepare for every single one, but there are several basic questions that appear in most interviews. I suggest looking these up online, writing them down, and writing guidelines on how you will answer. For example, create notecards with the question on one side, and major points of how you would answer on the other. Even if the interviewer doesn’t ask those exact same questions, you will still remember the major points you want to make about yourself. You’ll feel more confident if you have a basic idea on what you want to cover in the interview.

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3. Be Prepared

This may seem obvious, but you don’t want to take any risks when it comes to an interview. This is kind of a catch-all tip, but there are some major steps you should follow. Set out your clothes way before the interview. If there are any stains or wrinkles, you won’t be rushing around right before the interview. Also, print a résumé to bring. Even if you submitted one online, you should always bring an extra copy to the interview. Think ahead as you plan to drive to the interview for any mishaps or problems that could arise. Be sure to relax in a way that fits you before the big day – drink some tea, get good sleep, do some yoga.

4. Timing is Important

Never be late! This could be a make or break for an interview. Be sure to know exactly where the location of the interview is, the exact time, and who you are supposed to meet with. Take traffic, car troubles and any other possible situation into account. Being late looks bad but being too early could look equally as bad to potential employers. If you show up to the location 30 minutes early, the staff will be unprepared for a visitor that early. They could feel rushed or even uncomfortable to have someone waiting for so long. An appropriate amount of time to arrive is about 10-15 minutes early. This way, you can find the appropriate office or room with time to spare. If you think you arrived too early, just stay in the car and relax before walking in.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Brag

An interview is all about your accomplishments, experience, and overall ability. If they ask you a question, don’t be afraid to talk about yourself. That’s what the interviewers want to know about. It may seem strange to talk about yourself in such a high manner, but this isn’t getting coffee with your friend. An interview is the way of finding the best fit for the company’s needs. Don’t leave anything out when it comes to explanations. Make it brief, but make sure you stand out and the interviewers understand what really makes you better than the others. One way to remember all your accomplishments and examples of success is to write them down and study. If the list is in your mind, you won’t have trouble bringing it up into the conversation without it being awkward and forced.

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6. Be Yourself

Going to an interview is extremely intimidating, but the focus is you. Don’t become so stressed that you lose your personality and focus. The interviewers are interested in your skills, experiences, and attitude. Never lie about your abilities and knowledge. Be honest with the interviewers because they want to know if you are the best fit for the company. It might be hard to relax during the interview, but try your best to smile and let your personality show. The more comfortable you are with the interviewers, the more comfortable they will be with you. If you start out confident, your stress should fade as the interviewers transform into regular people rather than intimidating business professionals as the time goes on. Eye contact, body language, and a smile can make all the difference.

7. After the Interview

Always be sure to have a list of questions to ask the interviewers before you leave. They will ask you if you have any questions, and you should always say yes. You should research the company, articles related to the business, and a list of general questions that are good to ask after the interview. Write a list of questions down that you hope to ask after the interview. This will make the interviewers realize that you took the time to research, and it will make you seem very interested. Another great way to stand out is to either write an email or handwritten letter thanking the interviewers for taking time to meet. This will correlate a positive message with your name.

If you follow these tips, you should have a good chance of standing out and proving yourself. You only have one chance, so make it count! If you don’t get the job, gain more experience, revise your résumé, and be more confident in the next interview. You’ve got this!

Clare Froehlich

Murray State '19

Clare is a senior Public Relations major at Murray State University. She is the senior editor for her university's Her Campus chapter. She can usually be found at the closest dog park or planning for her next travel destination.