As you enter the “adult world” and seek out various job opportunities and internships in today’s competitive market, you’ll be especially shocked to learn that you’re not as prepared as you may think you are. If you don’t know how to strategically go about writing your resume and presenting yourself properly at a job interview, you may face more rejection than is necessary. Needless to say, you have to master the art of nailing interviews that will land you your dream job.
Here is a list of helpful tips you can use to quickly become the best interviewee ever!
1. Strong Resume
This may not have to do with the actual interview, but it needs to be mentioned, as this is the first step towards getting your foot in the door. So, what’s in a strong resume? A strong resume only details past experiences that are relevant to the position that you’re pursuing. As much as you may be proud of being a girl scout when you were seven, you should only focus on the most recent and professional experiences that are reflective of your skill set. Employers read tons of resumes so keep your resume short, clean, free of typos, relevant and detailed. Do not be tricked by the idea that your resume is not long enough, and therefore, you should make it longer by including irrelevant past experiences; it’s about quality, not quantity. Something that will set your resume apart from others is adding a bit of colour, a creative pizzazz to your resume—it’s the 21st century so step outside of the basic Word Doc resume template.
2. Body Language
As mentioned, a good resume only gets your foot in the door. Now that you’re face-to-face with your (hopefully) future employer, it is time to work your magic and secure your desired position in the company. This may be the only time in the recruitment process where the interviewer gets to see the real you under pressure, since interviews are quite nerve-racking. With that said, your body language and facial expressions are especially under review, as the interviewer gets a first-hand look at your personality and identifies whether you are shy, confident, reserved, outspoken, professional or casual. Essentially, your body language seals the deal on the interviewer’s first impression of you. So practice a firm handshake, make eye contact and stay optimistic. Do not forget to keep a friendly, genuine smile on your face. In case you haven’t heard, a good smile can take you places.
3. Dress Code
Whether you’re trying to land an internship in the fashion, business or journalism industry, you have to learn to dress the part. First impressions are very important, and you don’t want to ruin your chances of getting hired because of your poor choice in professional attire. Your interview outfit reflects your level of professionalism. So, make sure you dress to impress. If you’re having trouble figuring out your outfit, just wear a typical suit, or a skirt with a matching blouse; there is no way you can go wrong with that. Stay away from shoes that are uncomfortable (like super high heels!) and revealing clothing or patterns that can distract the eye. You want this interview to be about you and your skills.
4. Practice Interview Questions
As an interviewee you will be asked a ton of questions about your work experience, your interests, goals, personal skills and abilities. Now that you know this, reflecting on typical interview questions and preparing potential answers for them will reduce your nerves on the day of the interview. Start thinking about the reason you want this position, why you would be perfect for the company, and how you’re different from other candidates. Employers will ask you questions based on your resume and cover letter so be sure to read them over and think of examples of your past experiences that you want to bring up during the interview that will highlight your skills. For example, you may have listed a past volunteer experience—why is this experience relevant to the job you’re applying for now? Are there any specific examples that you can draw from this experience that highlight some of your great skills like leadership, communication or organization? The more prepared you are for these questions, the more likely you are to give good answers and land your desired internship.
5. Be Punctual
We’re always told to be punctual, whether we hear it from our parents, our teachers or our friends, and yet we still continue to be tardy. Punctuality says a lot about you. If you arrive early to your interview, your interviewer will often assume that you are a responsible person who respects their time and can be relied on in the future. This shows them that you are aware of the importance of time, and that you do not plan on wasting it; thus, making you seem a committed individual who can be trusted to meet deadlines and act productively. In contrast, being late (or even arriving exactly on time) may put your interviewer in a bad mood and have them go into the interview with doubts about you from the get-go. That said, all of this can easily be avoided if you just get there on time.
6. Always Stay Professional
For most people this is quite easy to do, but others may develop instant chemistry with their interviewers and believe they can let loose. As much as you may want to become your interviewer’s next BFF, remember that this is an interview and there are a lot of other successful individuals like yourself, who are trying to land the same position. Don’t be fooled by an overly friendly interviewer. Just because they may be speaking really casually and informally with you does not permit you to forget about professionalism. So, keep cool and follow the interviewer’s conversational lead, but don’t overdo it. Maintain a professional demeanour until the end of the interview; there’ll be plenty of time for you to build a strong bond with your interviewer once you land the job or internship.
7. Know the Company
This is part of your pre-interview preparation; you need to do your research on the company and the interviewer if you know who that’ll be in advance. This is your chance to show the interviewer that you really are passionate about the company, and that you can successfully contribute to their mission plan. When you mention your personal interests, hobbies and future goals, you should try to link it all back to the company’s mission or value statement.
8. Ask Questions
At the end of most interviews, the interviewer often asks if you have any questions for them about the company or the job description. As much as you might be extremely eager to leave the interview as soon as possible, you should stay a little longer, and ask questions! Usually, people tend to overlook this last component of the interview process, and fail to jump on an opportunity to impress their interviewer. There’s nothing worse than having your interviewer call you out for not asking any questions, or in my case, not asking the right kind of questions; there is a difference between significant and trivial questions. Here’s a good question you can ask at the end of your interview: “How has someone in my desired position impressed you in the past?” This question is great because you’ll know what’s really important to your future employer based on their answer. They might say, “I had one intern who was always on time,” so now you know punctuality is key to them. Don’t lose this opportunity to get inside your future employer’s head—prepare a good question!
Good luck! You got this!