An important element of preparing for your job or internship search is the interview process. It’s entirely possible that soon after you submit a resume, you’ll receive a phone call to come in for an interview (this happens more often than you may think!), so early preparation is the key. It is very normal to be nervous before or during a job interview, but with some groundwork and practice as outlined below, it will be much easier to control those interview nerves.
Remember, if an employer has invited you to interview, he or she is already interested in you! The interview’s purposes are to confirm the qualifications you listed on your resume and see if you are a good fit for the position and company. Also, keep in mind that that you are also interviewing the employer to see if it’s the right fit for you, especially if you have interviews with multiple companies. You should be asking the employer questions to understand the company, the manager, the position and more.
What you wear to an interview depends on your industry, but the tips below apply across nearly all industries:
Determine the general dress code for where you are interviewing and then “dress it up” a notch, erring on the side of formality. For example, if the office staff wears jeans and t-shirts, you should aim for business casual. If the office staff wears business casual, you should aim for professional attire.
Wear clothes that fit and are neither too tight nor too loose. For women, wear pants or skirts that are knee length or longer.
Wear clean, professional shoes:
Men should wear dress shoes.
Women should wear closed-toe shoes and no sandals. If you decide to wear heels, make sure they are professional and that you can walk comfortably in them.
Make sure you are well-groomed, which includes showering, wearing clean clothes, getting a haircut if necessary, brushing your teeth, and wearing minimal make-up and minimal cologne/perfume.
Wear neutral colors such as black, blue, grey or brown.
Although it’s important to be authentic and express yourself, be cautious about revealing too many piercings, tattoos, hair colors and other styles that may be deemed “alternative.” It’s always a good idea to show a conservative side to make a good first impression. You can bring in your natural style once you get the job — depending on the industry, of course.
Most interviews will consist of “behavioral” interview questions, which are meant to see how you’ve behaved in past situations to predict your future behavior on the job. Unlike traditional job interview questions which ask you to simply explain what you’ve done in past jobs, behavioral interview questions seek concrete examples of skills and experiences that relate directly to the position. Following are several tips:
Use the STAR method to answer these questions:
Situation/Task – Describe the situation or task you were involved in to set up your story.
Action – Describe the actions you took to complete the task, focusing on skills the employer is probably looking for.
Results – Describe what happened because of your actions. What did you learn? What skill did you develop?
Example: “Tell me about a time you worked on a team.”
Situation/Task – “Since I am a History major, I was able to work on a research team last semester for the History Department. The professor leading the project was writing a book on the significance of fashion in ancient Rome. We were each assigned different sections to focus on.”
Action – “Since there was a lot of material and a lot of people on the team, I suggested that we meet independently before our weekly meeting with the professor to discuss our progress and support each other if we were running into any difficulties.”
Result – “The professor really appreciated how well we all worked together and how well prepared we were for our meetings with him, which streamlined his research. As a result of our teamwork, the professor was able to start his final copy months ahead of schedule.”
Big InterviewTM is an innovative online learning tool that you can use to enhance your job interviewing skills and develop an edge over the competition. Use Big Interview to learn and practice your interview skills, whether you are interviewing for a job or school admission.