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Tips for Nailing Creative Interviews As a Student

Recently, I had the great opportunity to interview other students for the main student entertainment org on campus, ASBP. It was so interesting to be on the other side of interviews and even a bit unnerving still. As I interviewed groups of students at a time, watched their introductory videos, and looked over the resumes, all the advice I’d heard before became clearer than ever. Seeing how nervous a lot of the applicants were made me want to reach through the screen and say “It’s okay, you got this! You’re doing great!” though I could definitely relate to their interview anxiety from past experiences. So, I felt compelled to write this article about the advice I wish someone had told me earlier about interviewing for creative positions.

Literally be yourself

This is one of the most cliché statements but it still rings true as ever. Especially if you are applying for a position that requires you to be creative in any way, the interviewers want to see you for you. They want to know what your personality is like, what your interests are, etc. to see how you will fit into their own team of other creatives. It’s so important to be authentic because it often makes you more memorable and will easily allow the interviewer to imagine you as part of the team. Cookie-cut answers are not memorable.  Don’t try to be anything that you are not because even if you get the position, your true personality will come out sooner or later and it’s better for everyone if your real personality isn’t a complete 180. So stick to who you are from the get go!

Think as if everyone already loves you. 

If the first piece of advice scares you, work on implementing this mindset. Walk into the interview room as if the interviewer already likes your personality and wants you for the position. This may seem impossible or too cocky, but it can really help you in the long run if you use it to your advantage. Think of it this way: it is way easier for others to believe in you once you undoubtedly believe in yourself first. Having nerves during an interview is absolutely natural and okay, but ask yourself where the nerves are coming from. Are you really excited and hopeful for the position? (Good nerves). Or are you overthinking and worrying about how the interviewer is perceiving you? (Bad nerves). The good nerves can help you show your passion for the job. For the bad nerves, remember that you can never control or assume how someone else is perceiving you. Trying to do so will drive you up the wall, not to mention it will subconsciously make you want to act however you think they want you to instead of how you naturally act. Fake the confidence ‘til you make it if you need to! And to help with this, focus on seeing if you really like them. It doesn’t have to be a one-sided power battle, you have some power too!

Be specific in what you want

I hadn’t really known or thought about this one before but while it may seem beneficial to generalize yourself, it can actually make you come across as indecisive and wishy-washy. For example, if there are multiple positions you are running for and you say “I’m good with any and all!” to show that you just want a position, this makes it harder on the interviewer to gouge what you would really be good for. It’s okay to gun for what you really want and show your passion for that. Choosing something for yourself will make it clearer and easier for the interviewer, and also be more memorable among all the other applicants who said the same generalized preference. Speak up for what you want, don’t leave it all up to the interviewer to decide for you.

Own up to your skills

This ties into the second bit of advice. Cockiness and confidence are not the same thing. You don’t have to walk into the interview acting as if you’re the most skilled person in the world, but at least know what you bring to the table. Being humble is great when making small talk, not for an interview. Show what you got! And be proud of it. Don’t talk down your efforts or your skills because most interviewers want someone who knows that they can get the job done. If given the chance, explain how you are different from other candidates and what you can provide that they can’t. Remember that all the candidates applying for the same position will likely have the same base experience as you do so focus on differentiating yourself. Maybe it’s your personality or the way your mind thinks or an extra experience that taught you something specific. Again, stay away from generalizations! (This applies to your resume too.) 

Ambition and experience go hand in hand. 

With that last point being made, let me reassure you that it is okay to have little to no experience. This is especially true for most student positions since we are in school full-time and not expected to have had plenty of jobs or internships yet. Experience can almost always be replaced with ambition. If you haven’t any learned skills already then really emphasize that you are excited and willing to learn them through the position (only if you actually are). You could also emphasize ideas that you have for the position or other strengths that make you a great fit for it. Key thing here is to just not write yourself off before the interviewer does.

Most of these tips and pointers have been said before in one way or another but for me, it didn’t click until it did. I can only speak to their accuracy for my own experience, but hopefully they help you along the way too. Always remember to be proud of yourself no matter what! No one will reach for your dreams more than you. Getting down on yourself for what you think you lack will rarely ever help you get better. So, be your own biggest fan, keep working on practicing for interviews or rewriting your resumes, and good luck in the future!

Shanelle Huynh

UC Riverside '22

I am a fourth-year creative writing major, business minor at UCR learning to define my own way of living as a "writer" and sharing what I find out on my journey along the way.
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