Emma: Interviewing 101

The summer internship madness is upon us here in COM, folks, and you know what that means! It’s time time to start your research, booking slots with the CDC for resume and cover letter review, and to start prepping your interviews!

Coming from someone who just completed this tiring process, I can tell you that nailing your interview is key. It’s the best opportunity – whether in person, over the phone, or via Skype – for potential employers to gage how well you mesh with their culture and converse under pressure.

It can seem like a daunting task at first, but the key is to prepare as much as possible, so try these tips below to get yourself confident for the big day!

Come Prepared

This is key for all interviews. You should be walking into it with a deep understanding of the role you’re applying for, what the company is all about, and even a fair amount about who you’re interviewing with. Never hurts to do some digging on LinkedIn! For in-person interviews, be sure you have an extra copy of your resume, portfolio, or anything the interviewer asked you to bring. And for the love of all things good, make sure you know what time your interview is (and show up at least 15 minutes before).

Practice OUT LOUD

We all know practice makes perfect, but the best way to prepare for an interview is to be going over common questions out loud. I like to have the answers to common/anticipated interview questions written down in bullets (“Tell me about yourself.” “How did you choose this agency?” “What interests you about this role?”) and then use that as a baseline to practice out loud. This allows you to know what actually sounds good out loud, and helps you configure your response into a conversation that doesn’t sound scripted. Practice alone in your room, or grab a friend and make them listen to you for the full effect.

Ask Smart Questions

Before my first interview, I went to my faculty advisor for advice, and the best nugget he passed on to me was the idea that you show people how smart and engaged you are by the types of questions you ask. In doing your research about the company, find things you’re curious about (stray from the obvious) and ask your interviewer. I promise, they will be impressed that you cared enough to learn more.

Bonus Tips: Skype interview prep

  • Dress professional…ish
    • The best part about a Skype interview is you only have to keep it formal from the waist up. In my last two Skype interviews, I wore a nice shirt, blazer and PJ bottoms. No need for uncomfortable slacks or heels, but obviously keep this a secret from your interviewer.
  • Take your surroundings into consideration
    • Always take your surroundings into consideration. If you’re conducting an interview in your dorm room, try to position yourself in a way that your background is as plain as possible. Trust me, your interviewer doesn’t need to see every detail of the photo collage on your wall. As always, keep it ~profesh~. Also, make sure you turn off notifications on your laptop/phone, and make sure your roomies don’t walk in mid-interview.
  • Adjust as necessary
    • As we all probably know, Skype/Facetime can be tricky. Call a friend to check your connection beforehand so you can make sure your video and microphone are helping you out. And finally, if you know you are prone to fidgeting (like myself), put a sticky note over your face so you can focus on your interviewer.

Interviews can be tricky and nerve-wracking, but each one is a learning experience! If you practice as best you can and follow these tips, you will be guaranteed to wow any interviewer lucky enough to be talking with you.

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