So, you did it. You aced your résumé skills and phone interview for the job of your dreams. Now comes the real test, the last obstacle, the one thing keeping you from success and having to move back into your parent’s basement…the in-person interview. Dun dun dun.
I myself used to hate interviewing with people face to face. Not because I hated dressing up, or talking to people professionally, but because I absolutely loathe talking about myself. “So, tell me about yourself…” —the dreaded question that all interviewers inevitably start off with. It’s a standard question, and I knew it was coming, but without fail it always used to catch me off guard. My response was usually a pretty standard “ummmm” followed by some rant about how I went to CU-Boulder followed by an overwhelming lack of offers.
The best advice that I ever received about interviews came from the CU Leeds career services office. My counselor at the time told me that when employers ask you that question, they don’t necessarily want your professional history. They know that already (assuming you provided a resume), and if they have specific questions they will ask you. No, when they ask you to describe yourself, you should really describe yourself. What are your hobbies? Where did you grow up? What are you passionate about? Are you interesting enough that I want to work with you? For example, I really love international management and traveling, so I like to talk about that and different countries that I’d like to visit someday. Seems basic enough, but that question always used to throw me off.
One way that I like to prepare for interviews is by talking to myself in the mirror. Yes, it’s weird, and I am sure if anyone were to see me doing it they would think that I was a crazy person, but it really does help to alleviate anxiety and also see the weird things that you do when you talk to people. Example: I never knew it, but I tend to use my hands way too much when I am nervous and talking to someone. Like, way too much. Like, I-want-to-listen-to-what-you-are-saying-but-my-gosh-your-hands-are-way-too-distracting much. Now that I know I do that, though, I consciously think about it and can work on it.
Another important part of the interview process is to always (ALWAYS) send a follow-up thank you. If you don’t know your interviewer’s email, ask for it. Not only is it polite, but I have heard stories when hiring managers will automatically disregard candidates who don’t say thank you…regardless of skill. Pretty crazy when you consider how easy it is to send a little thank you note.
Interviews may seem scary, but they don’t have to be. As long as you are prepared and do your research, there’s no reason that they should be any cause for anxiety or stress. And who knows…a single interview may be the deciding factor to landing the job of your dreams.