Interview Tips

Removing the FEAR from Job Interviews

Like with any new skill, job interviews can seem foreign and scary until you’ve prepared and had experience presenting yourself to potential employers. The fear may begin to build as you wonder: What do I say? How do I act, and what do I do if I do not know the answer to a question?

Don’t panic! Take a deep breath, and keep the self-doubt MONSTER at bay. Once the job application and interview process begin you’re along for the ride – good or bad, but preparing for the battle with research and practice will help you slay the beast and land the job.

Applications and interviews are a lot like taking an exam, but the test is given by the employer. Follow this plan to ace your preparation, boost your confidence, and find success.

Application Process

+ Research the hiring company to familiarize yourself with their history, mission, products, services and unique contributions to the industry. Review their website, read the bios of their management on LinkedIn, and check media reporting and reviews. Arm yourself with knowledge to demonstrate your interest in the organization, and their industry.

+ Revise/edit all documents you submit. Go over every document multiple times with a peer or someone you trust to read your materials and give you honest feedback.

+ Refine the materials each time you apply for another position. You should customize your cover letter and résumé to match key words in the job description. It’s okay to submit additional materials such as letters of reference, proof of relevant certifications or awards, college transcripts, and links to examples of your work.

+ Present a clear image of yourself in the first document you submit to a new employer. It can be helpful to make a list of adjectives about yourself, such as experienced, thoughtful, innovative, engaging, dedicated, problem solver, and strong communicator.

Interview Process

+ When selected, find out with whom you will be interviewing and research them online. See if you can identify them in the company’s organizational chart or heirarchy.

+ What will be the interview format? In person? Telephone? Video call? Each requires different modes of preparation, so make sure you are familiar with each:
     – In Person Dress appropriately, display confidence, maintain eye contact, listen attentively, prepare questions to ask about the company and position. Bring a pen/pencil and a piece of paper to write notes, bring a bottle of water, demonstrate preparedness, and be thorough with your answers - but not too long.
     – Video Call In addition to the previous tips, “Set up the shot” so you are well-lit and there is nothing distracting behind you. Test the technology, find a quiet space, and make sure family and roommates know not to disturb you. If interviewing with multiple people, write down their names and where they are sitting.
     – Telephone Find a quiet space with strong cell reception or use a landline. Consider using a headset to free your hands to take notes.

+ Prepare for the interview by anticipating potential questions. With every answer, try to share a time when you helped solve a problem or resolve a conflict related to their question. Know your résumé thoroughly, and rehearse highlights of each job. If not explained in the interview, ask about the hiring timeline and process, and ask about the best way to follow-up with additional questions.

+ Practice interviewing with family and friends. Sit down with someone you trust and roleplay the interview process. Maintain pleasant eye contact, listen attentively, and ask thoughtful or clarifying questions. Pause and take time to answer each question, and keep notes about their responses. Remember, you are demonstrating you are an adaptive and clear communicator.

+ Persuade the interviewer that you are a good fit for the job. Always work towards creating a feeling of belonging. Your preparation will help you shake your feelings of nervousness and make others feel at ease. The more you can make the situation feel like a workplace conversation, the better the outcome will be.

Follow Up

+ Thank each interviewer, (or the best follow-up contact), for the opportunity and consideration, and ask if there are any other resources that you can provide to support your application. Email tends to be the best means of follow-up. Avoid phone calls. If you do not receive an offer, your actions will leave a good impression and positively position you for other employment opportunities.

+ Offers and negotiations are exciting. Channel the excitement into good decision-making. An offer by an employer is a sign of their willingness to invest in you. Know that they want you to join their team and ask for what you think you deserve. Research and know the salary ranges for similar positions in the area ( is a helpful online resource). Be sure to inquire about all benefits that are part of the total compensation package (bonuses, 401(k) pension, health insurance, professional development).

No matter the outcome, you are building experience every time you apply and interview for a position. You will become more agile with practice, and this process will improve your job search and professional skills as you continue in your career.

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