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How to Make Your Interviewer Your Friend, Not Your Boss

We have officially approached that time of the season when you and all of your friends are sitting at your favorite library booth or dining hall corner, and one of them brings up the topic of summer plans. Someone mentions working for their parents’ business, another touches on taking extra credits, and suddenly you’re in shock at the idea of trying to secure your warm-weather plans when the semester has just gotten into full swing. 

Applying for those seasonal internships, jobs, or research opportunities are the easy part; it’s once you have proven yourself on paper and interviews loom in the daunting future that your nerves start to spike. Interviews, despite how stressful they appear, can not only be bearable, but also fun. By practicing these tips, you can even view your interviewer as a friend, rather than a fright.

1. Dress in something that makes you feel kickass yet comfortable. 

Often times, our appearance impacts how we perform at any social event, and it’s not hard to get consumed by our outfit choices and finally opt for something both uncomfortable and boring. You’ll end up feeling insecure or lackluster when you show up for that meeting, which also means you won’t be on your A-Game.

It is important to remember that professional does not have to mean wearing the same dull blazer and slacks! Some common must-haves that are always sexy yet sleek together include nude pumps with a solid-colored dress or a black pencil skirt and light-colored blouse. By choosing a staple clothing combination that you know you look good in (and can still breathe in), you’ll automatically be much more relaxed when you walk into the room. Try to pick at least one piece, whether it be your favorite maroon cardigan or the gold earrings you got for Christmas, that always makes you feel good. At the end of the day, companies want to hire an employee that is not only qualified, but also confident.

2.  See your interviewer as your equal, not your superior. 

Our desire to make a lasting first impression can sometimes lead us to do too much, like talking our interviewer’s ear off about our summer camp counselor job, or never taking a forced smile off our face. Relax! You only get about an hour with this person and then you might never have to talk to them again. Or, in the better case scenario, you may end up working with them!

It is important to remember that you can’t show your interviewer how you’re going to change the world or let them know every single amazing thing you’ve ever done at Penn in the limited time allotted. The truth is, your interviewer has probably met a lot of people before you and will continue to meet a lot after you. 

So, sit back, relax, and remind yourself that you’re there to have a conversation with them, not a one-sided interrogation. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions like: how they ended up working for that employer, where they’re from, interests that they like to pursue outside of the office, etc. After all, they are people too! By showing a personal interest in your interviewer, they will leave with the impression that someone was interested in who they were beyond their position. This will make you more memorable as a candidate they want to stick around!

 3.  Remember that if you don’t get the job, it’s not the end of the world. 

At a school like Penn, it’s easy to feel like you’re being suffocated by the pre-professional image it harbors, and that everyone has their life together except for you. A secret is that every student in all of your classes likely feels this way sometimes, and we’re all just trying to navigate through adulthood one day at a time. 

Part of becoming an adult is rejection. Yeah, it can sting, but not landing one summer job position doesn’t mean you will get turned away from every other one you are interested in. If anything, it means that job was not a right fit for you. Feeling sorry for yourself will only keep you from finding the perfect fit. So go and put yourself out there! Put on your favorite pencil skirt, print your resume, and remember there will always be more job listings or opportunities that come your way, no matter what. 

The summer is still so far away, so even if you haven’t started your applications yet and you feel as though everyone else has, you still have time. But want to know the secret to making friends with anyone, including your interviewer? Show them why they should get to know the confident, killer queen we at Her Campus know you are. Because she’s incredible, anywhere and everywhere. 

Mehek Boparai is a current freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, in the College of Arts and Sciences. She's an English major on a Pre-Medical track but in between reading Jane Austen or her bio textbook she loves writing poetry, watching old films, and doing fun photoshoots. She's a huge sunset enthusiast and hopes one day to live in an area of large open fields and flowers.
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