Nobody really likes job interviews. If we’re completely honest with ourselves, we’d rather just avoid them completely. But, who doesn’t love to walk into a business, chat with the boss and walk out with a job offer? Whether it’s a job at a fast food chain or an internship with the company of your dreams, you’re going to have to interview. More importantly, you’re going to need to crush it and stand out from the other candidates – but how?
Don’t treat the job like a stepping stone.
You’re in college, so whatever job or internship you’re going for is unlikely to be your lifelong career. You know it and your employer knows it. But that doesn’t mean you should act like it. “Don’t seem like you’re just looking for any job,” said Scott Kesling, manager of kiosks at Wisconsin Union South. “Show the need and the want for that specific position.”
Dress for success.
Casual clothes are a universal no-no. Worst comes to worst, you end up feeling overdressed and that’s totally fine. No matter how well you rock that casual band T look, I promise looking professional is better than showing up in a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. “I think one of the most common mistakes young people make during an interview is underdressing,” Miranda Weber, student supervisor at Union South, said, “A piece of advice I’ve been told over and over again is that I should always dress for the job I want, not the job I have.”
Don’t stray off topic.
Employers love to see someone think on their feet – emphasis on think. Being articulate and specific with your language in an interview goes a long way. Senior Director of Intellectual Property at Nintendo of America Jodi Daugherty said, “Be precise in your answer. Give examples supporting your response, do not go off track and avoid rambling. Rambling infers to me that the interviewee may not be able to focus and stay on task in the potential position.”
Don’t fear repetition. Don’t fear repetition.
Many interviews ask experience-based questions, such as the classic “name a time when you…” prompts. If you’ve only got a few bullet points on your resume, you’re not going to have many examples to use. Don’t be afraid to reuse memories. “I don’t mind when individuals use the same answer twice because it shows they understand that most skills are transferable to a lot of the same situations,” Weber said.
Turn negatives into positives.
The most dreaded question in any interview is the notorious “What would you consider your biggest weakness?” Answering this question becomes a delicate balance between being truthful and remaining hirable. What can you do to maintain this balance? “You can turn the negative into a positive,” Kesling said. “For example, tell them your weakness is taking your time on tasks because you’re trying to complete it to the best of your abilities.”
Turn the tables (When it’s your turn)
Almost all interviews will end with an opportunity for you to ask questions. This is the perfect time to get more information about your potential role and clear up any confusion you have. Ask your interviewer his favorite part about the job and watch his face light up as he answers. Or inquire about what a typical day looks like to show you’re curious about how the position works. Asking questions is informative, but it can also be the perfect way to make you stand out. “Asking questions shows an employer that you prepared for the interview beforehand. It also shows that you listened to the information they presented you,” Weber said.
Channel your inner Simba.
When you walk into the interview, don’t be a meek little mouse – dare to be a lion. Have confident body language, look the interviewer in the eye and offer a handshake. A positive first impression will affect how they view you for the rest of the interview. “Showing confidence through eye contact and how you enter the room is important,” Kesling said. “If you’re sheepish, it doesn’t set a good tone.”