Interviews can be daunting. You'll find yourself in a waiting room full of other well-dressed, well-rehearsed candidates with resumes that could be either half or twice as impressive as yours — but an interview could be the factor that leads to the half-as-impressive guy getting hired over you. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you prepare for your first interviews, whether for college internships or full-time jobs in the real world.
1. Know what makes you special, and don't be afraid to elaborate.
When you speak to a hiring manager, you are probably one of dozens being interviewed in just one day. You'll probably find yourself waiting at least half an hour in a room full of chairs, and your interview will probably take place at least 20 minutes after your scheduled appointment time. Nobody wants to hire a person who blends into the general crowd; they want to hire someone who knows their strengths and isn't afraid to share them. Interviews are the one place where humility need not be a concern, and you should feel free to paint yourself in the most flattering yet honest light you can manage.
2. Know the company and position you're trying to get hired for.
You need to know several things besides just the company and position you're applying for. What do you bring to the table that makes you qualified for such a position? Why does the company and its mission inspire or interest you? What are you trying to gain from working with this company? Knowing these things ahead of time will greatly increase the quality of your interview as a whole.
3. Tell stories from your personal experience.
Anyone can say "I am good at…" or "My personal strength is…" However, recruiters at most workplaces want to hear a little more than just a few basic claims. If you want to elaborate on a specific strength of yours, tell an honest, defining story that captures the essence of that strength. Share experiences from your past that are personal, academic, and professional! The more diverse your stories are, the more you will stick out in the vast field of candidates. Share a personal anecdote, a problem you solved while you were part of a special college group, or even a story of your memorable workplace interactions with others.
4. Ask good questions.
Your interviewer will always ask, "Do you have any questions for me?" at the end of every meeting. To avoid drawing a blank or spending priceless seconds scrambling to think of a good question, have a list of questions prepared the night before, and even commit them to memory. This will make the interview flow much more smoothly and efficiently.
5. Prepare the night before, or even a few days in advance
It doesn't hurt to practice interviewing with a friend or relative. Running through a mock interview will help you remember answers to frequently asked questions, and you will learn to speak more easily and casually. It also doesn't hurt to record yourself practicing, so that you can examine your facial reactions and the way your voice sounds to those you are addressing.