Keys to a Successful Interview

As ambitious college students, we are always dealing with interviews for new jobs, internships, and school affiliated opportunities. I know it’s a bore, but what can we do? Success doesn’t come overnight.

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The ultimate trick to having a successful interview for a job or internship actually begins way before you even step into the room. Preparing for your interview is essential in order to walk in there with the confidence you need to do well. Doing your research on the company or organization is incredibly important as well as going over generic interview questions that almost every interviewer asks one way or another (those are available through a simple Google search). It is also beneficial to bring in a copy of your resume and cover letter just in case the interviewer doesn’t have it on hand.

Going over the mission statement, responsibilities, and past of a company can give you insight as to what type of skill set might be beneficial for the specific position you’re going for. Set yourself up for success by instilling a sense of confidence in yourself before the day of your interview. You are more than capable of doing well and should show your future employer/boss that as well.

Now, the actual interview requires a lot of on-the-spot question answering. Given that you’ve followed the first set of tips and prepared yourself for what can be expected, now comes the time to test your ability to answer the unexpected. During your interview you should keep certain things in mind to ensure that you can succeed regardless of what is thrown your way.


Create a strong and positive first impression

Be early! On-time is late! Showing up early shows that you are ready and prompt and are responsible when it comes to showing up to work on time.

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Walking in with purpose and a smile on your face lets your interviewer know that you are ready! Leave any doubt outside the door because you’re in that office for a reason and you have every opportunity to show you deserve that position. If possible, shake your interviewer’s hand as you walk in. If not, don’t go out of your way to do so. This is an optional step but is usually known to be a formal greeting during an interview.


Dress Up

Make sure you dress appropriately. Every interview doesn’t require dressy formal attire so it is important to understand the type of position you are applying for.Attire for more corporate positions might entail a more formal/professional outfit while a job for- let’s say- a dance studio might entail a less professional and more business casual look. It depends on the position but always be prepared for a business casual look at least.


Stay engaged

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Creating a strong and positive first impression is very important but can only take you so far if you aren’t consistent. Stay engaged by actively listening. Active listening is the process of making eye contact, validating the interviewer’s questions and comments, and answering seriously. Sometimes sly jokes here and there are okay but do not rely on those or make them very apparent in your interview.

Your interview is meant to show the organization who you are and explain why you are qualified for the position. Because of this, I feel that it is important to an extent to show your personality. Ultimately you’re not only applying for the physical work that the position entails but are also becoming part of an organization’s image and that is very important to interviewers during their evaluation of you.


Let them get to know you

In addition to proper interview etiquette, it’s important to ensure that you are truly giving the interviewer your best self.

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You don’t want to divulge too much information but you also do not want to leave anything out.

By reviewing the responsibilities that your preferred position entails, you are giving yourself a better understanding as to what type of person they might be looking for. Keeping that in mind will help you pick what information about yourself you’d like to disclose. For example, if you know that deadlines are crucial for this position, it might beneficial to disclose past experiences you’ve had with deadlines or how you’ve planned your time around certain assignments to ensure that you finished them on time. Things of that nature could set you apart from other candidates. Disclosing the right information is important, but sometimes there’s a little leeway or an opportunity to disclose information that isn’t exclusive to the position you’re applying for. This is when you should be aware of the image of yourself that you’re presenting to your interviewer. Your personality is important, but some personal information may not be appropriate to disclose.

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Some of the common interview questions ask for your weaknesses and this question doesn’t necessarily have to make you look bad. Many people use this question to accent some of their weaknesses that might also be deemed as strengths. A commonly used example is, “I’m too critical of myself.” Of course it isn’t very good to be too hard on yourself, but this lets the interviewer know that you like to work hard. Now because this isn’t the best thing an interviewer wants to hear, it is also important to explain how you are working to fix your weakness. Do not just disclose your weakness and assume that that’s all the interviewer wants from you. If your weakness can also constitute itself as a strength, make sure to mention that and explain yourself possibly with an example.

You might be asked questions that you are not prepared to answer and in these cases it’s important to note that you can take a little time to think about your answer. You do not have to answer every question at the speed of light, and in all honesty, that might actually hurt your chances. Being prepared is important, but being authentic and honest is very valuable in any interview.

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Once your interview is over, make sure not to lose contact with the interviewer. Even though you may feel annoying, it is common etiquette to send a thank you note or letter to the organization to thank them for their time. In this letter you can thank them and express that you’ll eagerly be waiting to hear back from them. It may also be beneficial to disclose anything else you feel you didn’t get to touch on in your interview.

Interviews don’t have to be scary! If this is a position that is competitive, all you can really do is be yourself and elaborate on your experiences. Your drive and motivation will take you really far if you believe in yourself. You’re more than capable of succeeding and the first step is tackling this fear. You cannot be your authentic self if you’re hiding behind fear. Wishing you all the best in your future interview endeavours!