How to Have a Successful Interview: 4 Tips
Garima Jindal, BBA 2019
Imagine this: You are sitting in your room and you get a phone call. It’s an unknown number, but you pick it up anyway. And suddenly, your day just became so much better–You got an interview with the firm of your dreams! You’re incredibly excited, but also apprehensive, because what lies ahead is the potential doorway to your career, and the door, unfortunately, doesn’t always open. For some students, the interview, is the most stressful or nerve-wracking part of any application process, but for others it may seem easier than writing the dreaded cover letter and resume. No matter where you may stand on the interview ease spectrum, this article will provide you with a few tips to ensure that your next interview is one you are proud of!
Tip #1: Be Yourself
While this may sound slightly cliché, the best interview tip I can give you is to simply be yourself. In most interviews, the interviewer is testing your ability to hold a conversation and be confident in doing so. Where does confidence come from? More than often, confidence comes from being genuine and being true to yourself.
For example, if you have a shy personality, don’t try to overcompensate during the interview by being loud or being overly enthusiastic. This sort of behaviour will only make you more nervous and make you question yourself: Am I doing this right? Instead, focus on your strengths and embrace who you are. While you may be shy, you may in fact have more insight and value to offer than the next person. Stand out by following up on the interviewer’s comments or asking intriguing questions.
Tip #2: Do Your Research & Be Prepared
While this may sound like a simple and self-explanatory step, many individuals forget exactly this. If you don’t already know, during the initial setup of an interview, try to find out who your interviewer will be. This will allow you to get an idea of who you will be speaking with and give you the opportunity to prepare questions that are more specifically geared towards their life and career.
On the other hand, ensure that you know about the company, specifically what motivates you to want to work at this company and where you see yourself. I personally recommend making a spreadsheet for each interview you will be partaking in. In the past, I’ve used a 5-tab spreadsheet to organize my thoughts and research. An example outline is included below:
- 1st tab: Interviewer(s) information
- 2nd tab: Company information
- 3rd tab: Simple questions: i.e. tell me about yourself, weakness/strength, etc.
- 4th tab: Situational questions: anticipate what questions you will be asked and have at least 5 examples/stories that can be used to display your thought and action process in multiple scenarios
- 5th tab: Questions to ask
Tip #3: Practice
The key to success in interviews is practice. Whether this be experience that carries on from any previous interviews or even mock interviews with your peers, practicing will make you confident and provide you with the feedback you require to exude your personality and experience during your next interview.
However, if you do not feel comfortable in practicing with someone else, do not force yourself into doing mock interviews as this may negatively impact you. Mock interviews were not helpful for me and only made me more nervous for interviews. Often, what I did in place was record myself giving answers on a webcam and then reviewed the footage for observations.
Tip #4: Go Above and Beyond
Personally, interviews used to be the part of the application process I hated the most. It seemed that I had no trouble with the writing portion of the application and breezed to the interview, at which point I could not deliver. In fact, it was after my fourth rejection for a first year representative position, when a friend gave me a reality check.
It was not that I “sucked” or was not qualified for the positions I applied for. It seemed that others were just one step ahead of me. Given that we went to a school filled with intelligent and talented people, this friend advised me that it was imperative to go above and beyond. I took this advice to heart for my next first year representative interview. Given that this was one of the last positions I had applied to, this interview was very important to me. Over the weeks preceding the interview, I did unparalleled research about this club. I went to the interview prepared with ideas I would implement as part of the executive council and was prepared to confidently answer every question thrown my way.
A week later? The verdict. I had been rejected for the position of the first-year representative. But, I had received another offer. My interviewers, specifically the president of the club at the time was able to see how much I cared about the club, and how genuine I was during my interview. Instead, they created another position on the council so that I could be a part of the team. This was the moment I realized how important it is to go above and beyond the call of duty, and create opportunities, even where they don’t exist.
In closing, as much as an interview is about the company or organization and the interviewers getting to know you, it is also about you getting to know them, whether this be in regards to the culture or the opportunities presented to you. I encourage you to ask the tough questions, be yourself, and not let the thought of an interview scare you, much like it used to scare me.