College is the time to learn and excel at your future career. Companies know this very well, and want to find those bright students before they are committed to a different company. Every year, usually at the beginning of the year, career fairs arrive.
They happen back to back and take us away from our classes to have us stress about our futures. When we finally get the courage to talk to a recruiter and give them our resumes, they advise you to apply online anyway. As the year progresses, more students are being invited to interviews by the companies they apply for, and/or have talked to at a career fair. For this reason, here is a list of some tips to help you prepare for your interviews.
1. Research the company ahead of time
Finding information on the position you are interviewing for can help you steer the conversation in the direction of what they are looking for. Also learning about what the company does, and bringing up your findings will show that you are interested in them and give you bonus points.
2. Be ready with a list of questions
They will ask at the end of the interview if you have any questions for them. You never want to say that you don’t have any. Asking questions at the end of the interview is a win-win. You get to know more about the insides of the company, and they see that you are interested in them. If you have a lot of questions or even just some you don’t want to forget, write them down and bring it with you. You can even take notes about their answers. It will show them that you are prepared! Also, do not be afraid to ask questions about your resume or what they think of you. I once asked a question about what reservations they had for hiring me, and they told me that I had done extremely well during the interview.
3. Give yourself enough time before the interview
Always allow yourself enough time to get dressed, eat, and arrive early. But with that, make sure you use your time to calm down and feel confident. Pep talks in the mirror always work. If your heart is pounding, sit down and try to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth slowly. To prepare, briefly, think about what key points you want to emphasize on your resume and recall what projects and activities you have taken part in. The interviewer will most likely want to know more about them.
4. Dress professionally, but comfortably confident
Blazers, blouses, polos, skirts, and slacks are all good options. Whatever you wear should make you feel so amazing that the interviewer’s first impression is that you look professional and mean business. Be confident in your appearance! On top of that, make sure to keep good posture and eye contact to never take away from their impression of you. If it is something you would naturally do, lean in to seem engaged when they are explaining things to you. Also, let them initiate a handshake! It will be awkward if they leave you hanging. Even though these are all appearance related, remember that your words and thoughts mean more to them than your outfit.
5. Don’t use perfume/cologne
You may want to smell good, but instead, it could leave them feeling uneasy about you. Just use deodorant!
6. Think of something you want them to remember you by
This is extremely important. They could be interviewing dozens of students from your university or hundreds around the country. What makes you stand out from the rest? Why should they want you? Whether they directly ask you these questions or you need to incorporate them into your answers, let them know why you are an essential asset to them!
7. Feel comfortable with the interviewer so the conversation flows better
Stress is normal in these situations. If you can, though, try to take control of your nerves by looking at the interview as a conversation. It may be more formal than what you are used to, but that’s all it is. They really want to see if you are a good fit and if you will benefit in their work environment. On top of that, try to control any rambling that may happen due to anxiety. Watch their body language. If they seem to look at all bored or annoyed, maybe finish up your thought or try to ask them a question about your little monologue. Like if you went into a lot of depth about a certain internship, ask if they think their internship will be similar.
8. Have an optimistic outlook when it comes to your answers
When answering questions, try to be positive. If they ask you how a team project challenged you, answer it honestly. Honesty is the best policy! In between thoughts, make sure to talk about how you overcame those hardships or what you could have done better. Speaking of answers, if they ask for your weakness, do not say you are a perfectionist. Everyone says that, and I can guarantee they don’t want to hear it. They know you are human. Tell them something that you truly struggle with. For example, maybe you have trouble staying organized. You can tell them that! Then you could add that you have been trying to make a weekly plan and working on implementing it.
9. Ask for their email to thank them (within 24 hours)
I learned about this little formality this year. It’s highly suggested to ask your interviewer for their e-mail or for their business card. Within 24 hours, try to contact them. Thank them for their time and write a couple sentences that cover what you talked about to refresh their memory. There are tons of thank you e-mail templates out there to look at!
10. For technical interviews, case studies, etc., do not panic
Study beforehand, if you can. Try to review any material they could ask. But 9 times out of 10, they’re asking questions that you should have already learned. If you can’t remember, don’t be afraid to use them as a sounding board. They will help you through it. Some interviewers also want to know how you go about the problem, so vocalizing your train of thought may sound strange, but it could be exactly what they want to hear. They are not there to watch you fail. Keep in mind, they just want to see if you would succeed at this specific job.
Don't stress too much. Good luck!!
Also, thank you to my friends and other Odyssey writers for helping me come up with this list!