Interviews: How to Nail One and How to Conduct One

Many people find the mere thought of interviews daunting because they’re often not as fun and casual as a conversation with a friend, but, at the same time, you don’t want them to be as strict and scripted as though you were blatantly reading lines

If you’re one of the millions of people who have searched “How to Ace an Interview,” then you know that there are over 122 million Google results. Yes, 122. Million. Lists upon lists accompanied by graphs, photos, and side commentary about how to have a successful interview float all around the Internet, but they aren’t always exactly what you want or need – especially as a newbie to the interview game. You might not be looking for a business-specific job or are interviewing a musician, so a more general, age and experience suitable list of tips might be more of what you’re looking for.

As someone who is both a college student and someone who has been on both sides of the interviewing process a number of times, I’ve noted that there are a few key things that can make the whole experience go smoothly – or at least better than you anticipated – even as a fresh-faced, young adult.

 

1. When it comes to being in an interview, you have to find a common ground between you and the person your speaking with, because a true, personable connection is the backbone to a positive outcome. Maybe you like the same music, grew up in the same area, or have the same haircut. A good way to break the ice is to find a topic you are both comfortable with and can open up a bit about that is both appropriate and understandable. It might be looked at as a way to break the ice or a way to display your true character on a more natural, as well as neutral, subject. (A possibly overly obvious side note: Politics, religion, and those often found sensitive, societal subjects are not the best way to do this.)

 

2. Balance. Like standing on one leg during yoga class or breaking up your classwork and social schedule evenly, you need to find a good balance between professionalism and personality. If you’re nervous and are having a hard time finding anecdotes on the spot or feel the need to be proper and practically stoic because you want to seem more seasoned and adult, you will rarely be looked at as someone who others will want to work with. On the other side of the coin, if you’re too harsh and boring or too easy going on the person you’re interviewing, then you won’t find out who the person truly is in that environment. Remembering who you are and showcasing that is vital on both ends, but you have to keep in mind where you are at and who you are speaking to so that the conversation fits the context that it is within.

 

3. Having a grand personality, having an extensive resume, and connecting on both a personal and professional level is stellar and many can only hope to have that under their belt mid-way through an important conversation, but being knowledgeable will take you one step further than the rest. When you’re looking to be hired by a company, you want to know what they do now and a bit of their history, so that you will be able to draw upon that information during the interview in order to look dedicated and present. If I were to talk to interview a chef, I wouldn’t go in asking what type of food they make. I would have done that research ahead of time so that when the chef brings up that their signature dish, you can apply some knowledge about the cultural connection to it, it’s ingredients and the restaurant as a whole. You don’t want to look or sound unprepared. You want to look and sound passionate.

 

4. Plan B is important in all aspects of life personal and professional. If you’re interviewing someone of any background or any caliber, you want to have some backup questions in case they don’t answer some of the original ones you asked or don’t give straight answers. Sometimes being put on the spot or being confused can cause a person to ramble on and on about things and run around the actual question asked, so you might want some filler to maybe garner better information or more information on the person you’re speaking to. If you’re the interviewee, it’s just as important to have fall back options; which in a way correlates to tip number three. You see, at the end of many interviews, the person asking the questions might flip the script and ask you if there is anything else you want to know or anything that you would like to better clarified. This is a vital aspect of an interview, for you want to show your interest and passion and by asking a question. It depicts a sense of engrossment with the job, company, or topic at hand, keeping in mind that you don’t want to ask something completely out of left field either because nobody likes to be thrown for a loop when there is a (hopefully) solid dialogue happening right then and there anyway.