A job interview is an experience that is often daunting to most people, whether they have done it countless times or have never had any practice. I remember that whenever I had an interview, I was always nervous but also excited about the opportunity to speak to my abilities written on paper that had gotten me to that stage of the job pursuit process.
My name is Iman, and I am currently a junior in college and have had several interviews, all of which I have yet to walk away from feeling like I didn't represent myself and my capabilities as best as I possibly could at that time. My methods? Being as prepared as possible to minimize anxiety, nerves, and error.
I have outlined a few steps that I always make sure to do before any job interview; perhaps a few or all could help you crush your next opportunity to secure an offer.
Tip #1: Research & Take Notes
It is important to do a deep dive into the company and position that you’re applying for because you want to be well-informed and be able to weld that knowledge during your interview and after when you receive an offer.
Practical ways of doing effective research include keeping up with relevant news and leveraging a network of professionals (on LinkedIn, at conferences, and other events). Doing this helps you gain information regarding what the job looks like on a day-to-day basis and what skills are needed or appreciated within the role as well as insights into company culture and other tidbits that a website may not provide.
I found that asking lots of questions and taking comprehensive notes helped refresh my memory and helped me identify gaps in my knowledge base. All in all, if you get no actionable/helpful tips out of networking (which is highly unlikely), you may leave a particularly charming impression that could secure you a referral, which can only help your application.
Tip#2: Be personable
Authenticity and confidence get one very far. We’ve all heard it before, but being yourself is your greatest superpower; it helps you stand out, eases the flow of conversation, and even puts your interviewer at ease (even if it’s a HireVue). After all, real people determine your promotion to the next round of interviews.
I’ve found that it always helps to smile and approach questions enthusiastically. Not to worry if you aren’t a sunshine and roses person on a typical day; just care enough to show who you are and how you can add value.
Tip #3: Be Succinct & Direct
Personally, one of my weaknesses is rambling. Outing myself here, full disclosure. I tend to get bogged down by the details of my carefully curated story and wanting to show off how much effort I put into preparing for the interview, I run the risk of taking too long when answering the question.
Essentially, you want to make an interviewer’s job as easy as possible. Tell them the answer to their question in the most eloquent yet brief way that you know how. You want to demonstrate great communication skills, which often means striking a balance between making a point effectively without talking too much or too little.
What I’ve done to achieve this is anticipate likely questions, whether they are broad or specific, come up with answers, and edit as required. I have also realized that engaging in activities or roles in any aspect of life that require public speaking or just conversations with people I don’t necessarily know well has helped me become comfortable addressing quite frankly anyone and has gifted me continuous self-awareness, not self-consciousness. Either way, it’s a non-linear process, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it right the first time.
Tip #4: Demonstrate Curiosity
When trying to master these methods, there should be a recurring theme: a thirst for learning and a desire for understanding, so while you’re researching, networking, and all whatnot, remember to show just how invested you are in making the most of your opportunities to achieve self-development and that of the people you would work with.
Once you keep that in mind, it will naturally flow into your presentation of your best, most authentic self.
Tip #5: Practice! Practice! Practice!
Practice makes better. The goal is not to sound rehearsed, but to be able to communicate eloquently and quickly.
Taking advantage of my career center’s resources, solving brainteasers (for fun, because I am a nerd), and writing down my thoughts help me flesh out multiple approaches to a question, and help me pick the best one, enabling me to speak with intention and with a conversational cadence vs. sounding like a preprogrammed robot.
This practice is especially crucial for the technical portion of interviews, keeping your analytical skills sharp and confidence levels up.
Please be punctual
Show up in proper attire
Be kind to everyone