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The Dos and Don’ts of Interviews (With Help From Your Favorite Mean Girl)

Ah, Spring…a time for warmer weather, blooming flowers and…interviews. We know they can be just as scary as they are exciting, but we have some tips that will help you nail your next one!

Momma always told me…

To never chew gum in an interview. This is like the Cardinal Rule of interviewing. No one—especially a potential future employer—wants to hear you pop and snap your way through telling him or her how “totally awesome” you are. If you’re concerned about your breath, just make sure you get rid of it before you go in…or pop a mint instead!

While we’re on the topic of all things mouthy:

Try to avoid filler words such as “um” or “like.” It may seem like an insignificant habit, but you better believe your interviewers are paying attention not only to what you say, but how you say it. Avoiding nonessential words also makes you seem more confident and pronounced in your speech.

You knew this one was coming:

Dress to impress. Now, this doesn’t mean breaking out your favorite 6-inch bar night heels, but a little effort into “dressy-casual” goes a long way. If you know your usual classroom outfits are a little…laid-back, then spend some time the night before getting together an outfit that says, “I’m confident, prepared, and ready to knock your socks off.” Accessories can be game-changers too: A statement scarf or classy necklace will send the message that you pay attention to the little things.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask your roomies if you can borrow that sweet blazer or nude wedges; they’d probably be more than happy to help.

Sitting like a Princess:

Well, sort of. Though you may not realize it on an everyday basis, your body language says a lot about you, so you want to make sure your posture is on-point during those crucial few minutes. Sit up straight, chin-up, and make sure (if you’re kind of awkward like me) that you have a pre-prepared plan for what you’re going to do with your hands (I usually opt for the folded-in-the-lap look.) If crossing your legs one-over-the-other doesn’t feel too natural for you, try crossing just your ankles (Princess Mia style) or otherwise keep them straight and together.

Rock the Résumé:

Not every interview requires one, but including a résumé in your application can score major bonus points (and make you feel like a, dare we say it…real adult.) Not sure where to start? There are tons of helpful résumé builder sites on the World Wide Web, and UConn always has résumé workshops going on, just check the Daily Digest or look around for flyers! If even those seem too confusing or intimidating, my go-to is always my mom or someone else I trust with all things business.

No service?

Similar to being that guy in the movie theater, you want to avoid any cell-phone disturbances during your interview. If that means turning it off completely (recommended,) then so be it. If your inner paranoia really can’t deal with the thought of turning off your Baby, then at least put it on Do Not Disturb or Silent. Vibrating cells can be just as annoying especially if you’re in close quarters with a professional!

It’s all about the attitude:

Confidence is key in every interview, whether it’s for a job, internship, mentor position, etc. Now, confidence is stressed here, not cockiness, and yes, there is a difference. Walk in with a smile already knowing who you’re looking for and what you’re going to say, and don’t skimp on the handshake! People can tell a lot about a person based on the confidence of their handshake (but don’t go breaking any fingers…) Remember to be friendly and personable, while maintaining your all-about-business attitude. Once you’ve mastered the Attitude Cocktail, it’s all a piece of cake.

“Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks?”

Okay, I admit I wanted to throw in a semi-relevant Ed Sheeran lyric in here, but ladies: Eye Contact. You can have superb posture and the cutest outfit going on but if you’re staring at the floor the entirety of your interview, your interviewer is going to get a negative impression of your confidence. You don’t have to strain yourself by staring so hard without blinking that your eyes go fuzzy, but try to maintain a decent amount of eye contact with your interviewer. It’s another kind of body language that says, “I’m listening and I’m self-assured.” Tip: If keeping eye contact comes as a difficulty for you, try to maintain it in intervals, when your interviewer is speaking and when you are speaking. If you have to look away to gather your thoughts, that’s fine, just try not to make a habit out of talking to the wall!

Leave the stress behind:

We’ve all been there: interviews can be downright intimidating. But the best way to approach your big day is to leave all your stress from school, friends, and family behind and walk into your interview confident and stress-free. Don’t go crazy worrying about whether you’re making a good impression (chances are, you are,) and just remember to breathe. Tip: Get everything you need ready the night before, and allow yourself enough time to get there a few minutes early (the buses aren’t always on time…)

Before you know it, you will have nailed your interview and be the proud new owner of a job, internship, or maybe even the next Campus Cutie article.

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