Interviews are scary and intimidating… but they don’t have to be. Check out this blog to learn how to prepare to be your best self for your next interview!
Written by Josephine Redfern
Job interviews are always nerve-wracking and can feel like a ton of pressure. The best way to eliminate the fear that an interview might present, is to thoroughly prepare for it! This blog is going to help you prep for your next interview to increase your chances of getting the job.
Types of Interviews
There are several types of interviews that employers use when talking to potential employees. These include screening interviews, follow up interviews, behavioral interviews, group interviews, and phone/virtual interviews. All these interviews vary in the types of questions that might be asked and the ways that you should prepare for them. Screening interviews typically eliminate candidates that the employer does not even want to consider for an official interview. A follow up interview introduces you to more individuals at the organization who likely have a voice in the hiring process. You might be asked to engage one-on-one with these people, so they know who you are when the important hiring decisions take place. A behavioral interview asks scenario-based questions such as, “what would you do if this situation occurred”. These interviews are important because oftentimes your past behavior can predict your future behavior. A group interview could mean that multiple candidates are interviewed at the same time, or that one candidate is interviewed by multiple members of the organization. A phone interview is conducted over the phone by the recruiter. This might be an advantage to you because there are less things to monitor about your appearance and your eye contact. All these interviews are important, but they require different things when you are preparing—keep reading to learn more!
Coming to an interview feeling prepared is very important. If you aren’t prepared, you won’t feel confident and your potential employer will likely be able to tell that you might not be ready for the position. Before the interview make sure that you know yourself (more on this below). Really understand what you are looking for, and what you want in a role. Also, do research on your employer and pull from your research to ask informed and interesting questions. On the day of your interview, bring all your materials. For example, if you are a marketing major, bring your design portfolio. Everyone should always remember to bring copies of their resume to pass out. Finally, dress for the role that you are trying to get through this interview.
Knowing yourself is a little more complicated than it might sound. You want to go into an interview being ready to answer any questions that might be thrown at you that relate to yourself. Recruiters or interviewers might ask you, “can you tell me about yourself?”, “what is important to you?”, “what are your strengths and weaknesses?”. If you are self-aware, and what is important to you, you will be better equipped to answer these types of questions. Knowing yourself and your skills can also help with behavioral based interview questions that are common in interviews. These types of questions relate to your past behavior and how you would act in hypothetical situations. Practice answers to these questions prior to the interview and be prepared to think quickly! If you don’t know yourself as well as you might hope, don’t worry! There are plenty of online resources, like personality tests, that you can use to help you narrow down information about yourself. A short activity you could do to increase your self-awareness is to journal for just a few minutes every day. Write about your goals, dreams, doubts, anything that comes to mind! This is a great way to get your mind flowing and can help you know yourself a little better than before.
Know the Employer
Aside from knowing yourself, you should also know about the organization you are interviewing with. Research the employer and come with at least one question to ask. Understand the job description and the company beyond what is listed on their website. Some examples of questions you should think about or ask about are, “what new projects or initiatives are they working on?”, “what interested you in the organization”, “what are employees saying about them?”. It might be good to see if salary ranges are listed anywhere on recruiting sites, or government sites like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, so you can make an informed and realistic request if asked for your salary requirements.
First Impressions Matter
The saying is true, first impressions do matter. How you present yourself can have a significant impact on how the interviewer thinks about you. Dressing for the industry you are interviewing within can help to give you a professional edge. Always dress for the role that you want, not the role that you have. Pinterest is a great place to find inspiration for what to wear!
On the day of the interview, remember to always reflect on yourself and your unique background and how it can relate to the position you are working to get. Identify 3-5 top selling points—attributes that set you apart from other applicants. Be prepared for questions that ask for more detail than you have already given. Think of behavior-based questions that might be asked and think of some answers ahead of time, so you feel more prepared. One great way to answer questions is to use the S.T.A.R. approach. This technique can be used with behavioral-based questions as it tells a story in a specific, detailed way. First, explain the Situation, what Tasks you had to handle, the Action that you took to finish the tasks, and most importantly, the Result that happened because of your action.
After the Interview
After your interview, your work isn’t over! Always follow-up with a thank you note or email after an interview, especially if you are very interested. Even if you aren’t interested after the interview, saying thank you is courteous and makes you stand out amongst the crowd. Even if you don’t think that you got the job, your city and industry is smaller than you think, and you don’t want to burn any bridges.
Now that you’ve learned about the interview process, you are more prepared to ace your interview, and a step closer to reaching your career goals! Good luck with your interview! If you want to learn more about career readiness and the interview process check out our signature Career Readiness Program, ULaunch. ULaunch is a done-in-a-day career readiness curriculum, specifically curated for high schoolers. There are over 29 courses about interviewing, resume writing, soft skills, and more. Sign up for a ULaunch workshop today to help build these skills for yourself and your organization by filling out your information on our Contact page and a representative will reach out to you with more information! https://www.uhmfoundation.org/pillars/career-readiness.