You pick tiny pieces of lint off your pinstripe slacks and nervously straighten your resume. You mentally review your strengths, weaknesses, and the event in your life that most challenged you. You scan the reception area for any clue about the company’s history.
Don’t fret, your shaky knees and sweaty palms will subside eventually. But right now, my friend, you are afflicted with the pre-interview jitters.
While experienced interviewees can use their nerves to their advantage, many others become an embarrassing version of themselves while sitting across from a potential employer.
As college students begin second semester and start searching for summer internships, “real jobs” and graduate schools, interviews ominously appear on the horizon.
1. Demonstrate that you are needed
Kay feels that one of the most common mistakes college students make in interviews is answering the question “What do you want to do at my company?” with “I want to learn.”
“That’s a problem.” Kay wrote. “Why would they hire you? Because you can help them create and deliver the product they make or service they offer to they will have a successful business. Your particular job description would define how exactly you would help do that.”
She suggests that rather than saying you want to learn, explain your skill set and the unique abilities you would bring the job.
Boston College’s Career Center suggests that each individual should compose a “30-Second-Commerical” about themselves that answers three major questions: Who am I, what do I want to do and what do I bring to the table. The answers should do more than give information but actually engage the interviewer.
“When describing your examples and stories use the CAR structure,” says advice on the website. “Circumstances: here’s the situation/problem. Action: here’s what I did and why. Result: here’s how it turned out.”
2. You’ve done the work, now communicate it
Beyond knowing your qualifications, Kay says that poor communication skills can kill a first impression. College students often have lazy speaking habits. Those “like” “um” and “ya know” that litter our sentences are usually the result of rarely being forced to critically monitor what we say.
Kay suggests beginning to pay attention to how you speak: “To improve, record yourself and ask others to count how many repetitive, irritating nonwords you say per minute. But most of all, replace nonwords with pauses. As you’re about to say, “And I’m like,” just stop.”
3. Know your employer
In all this preparation about yourself, do not lose sight of the interviewer. In fact, knowing about the company will make your answers about your skill set and experience more relevant to the job you are going after.
BC’s Career Center says there are two main types of information to research: the company profile and recent news in the company’s industry.
Knowing about the company is vital in order to be able to illustrate why you are a good fit with the other employees, but understanding the field will make you an exceptionally impressive interviewee.
In a recent article Kay quoted Darrell Benatar of UserTesting.com, a website usability testing firm. Benatar said that interviewees that do not ask thoughtful questions about his business are at a disadvantage.
“People are effectively making an investment when they go to work for a company, so we want to hear the kind of questions an investor might have,” Benatar told Kay.
So, the next time you find yourself in reception area, anxiously searching for lint to play with, take a deep breath and have confidence that these three tips have you fully prepared.
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