Interviews are a necessary but highly stressful part of the job process. If you don’t have a summer internship or a post-graduation job lined up, it can be pretty daunting to think about the interviews you’re going to face in the coming months (especially when all of your CSOM friends already have jobs). Following these tips to be prepared for your interview can help reduce your stress, improve your interview performance and hopefully land you that dream job or internship.
1. Practice makes perfect. The career center at BC is a great, free resource for practicing your interview skills or editing your resume. Set up a mock-interview appointment there and you’ll be able to practice your answers to some of the most commonly-asked interview questions.
2. Do your research. Always be prepared with knowledge about the company and the position you are interviewing for. You want to be prepared if your interviewer asks you about the company, so look up their homepage, blog posts, or even quarterly reports.
3. Dress appropriately. It’s important to have at least one go-to interview outfit that is professional, tidy and appropriate. When in doubt about the level of formality, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. Wearing a subtle fashion statement that speaks to your background, culture or interests, like a pin on your lapel, can be a good conversation starter and help you stand out. A nice folder for carrying copies of your resume, like this one from the BC bookstore, looks professional and organized. It even has a notepad for taking notes and a spot for your pen.
4. Clean up social media. 91% of employers report checking social media, which means that that Facebook photo of you doing a keg stand last weekend could affect your chances of getting the job. Be sure to go through your Facebook account and delete or untag any inappropriate pictures and comments. There is also an app called Social Sweepster that detects profane language and pictures of “suspicious” objects, such as Solo cups and beer cans, to tell you what you may need to delete.
5. Be on time. On time means ten minutes early. If possible, drive to the interview location the day before so you know how long it takes to get there and where you’re going.
6. Craft your “story statement.” Most interviews start with the prompt “Tell me about yourself.” Many people answer this question with what is essentially a boring summary of their resume instead of providing personal details that will make them stand out, according to Forbes. A “story statement” connects a personal experience, such as a childhood memory, to your passions, your professional experience and why you want this job.
7. Brainstorm relevant experiences. Even if you have a lot of it, your mind may go blank when you’re put on the spot. Brainstorm at least three specific anecdotes that can be adapted to fit a variety of interview questions. When you’re asked, “What was your greatest challenge?” you’ll have a specific situation ready to describe and what you did to problem-solve it.
8. Prepare for the weakness question. One of the hardest questions to know how to answer is “What’s your weakness?” Don’t try to avoid giving a real answer by saying something cliché like “I’m too much of a perfectionist.” Instead, use it as an opportunity to show how you’ve overcome your weaknesses. Give them a genuine answer and tell them the progress you’ve made and the steps you’ve taken to improve on your weakness.
9. Ask follow up questions. At the end of the interview, you’ll have the opportunity to ask your own questions. Impress the interviewer by asking questions that show you researched the company and the specific position. Forbes recommends asking questions that kill two birds with one stone by phrasing your question in a way that gives new information about you. For example, instead of just asking if there are community service events at the company, you could ask, “I volunteer for the service group 4Boston at my school, and I really enjoy giving back. Are there company-wide community service opportunities here?”
10. Follow up. Send a thank you card (a handwritten sentiment goes a long way) or email within 24 hours of your interview. Be sure to send one to every person you interviewed with. Adding a personal touch by including something you talked about or bonded over during your interview can help them remember you.
Every interview is a learning experience, even the bad ones, so don’t get disheartened if there are a lot more interviews in your near future. The more you have, the better they’ll get, but hopefully these tips will help to make your next interview your last one!