By the time you get to an interview, the employer has already decided that you meet the minimum qualifications for the position. This is an opportunity for them to decide if you will be a good fit and contribute to the team. It is your chance to really highlight your experiences, personality and potential.
The best way to build your confidence is being well prepared before you go in. Here are seven tips from Career Services to help you feel your most confident self before an interview.
Prepare answers to common interview questions
While it’s impossible to know exactly what questions will be asked, we recommend spending time developing responses to commonly asked interview questions. Write out your responses with key points you want to communicate. This can help you develop concrete examples that showcase your talent, no matter what question is thrown your way. If you “wing it” on these simple questions, you may get stumped with the more complicated ones.
Avoid basic answers with the STAR method
Incorporating stories into your answers is great for demonstrating your strengths and is more interesting for the interviewer to hear. For example, rather than saying you are very organized, talk about a time that you helped your student group organize an event and what the outcome was.
To do this, try forming your responses with the STAR method:
- Situation: Sets the stage. Provide an overview, being specific and succinct.
- Task: Describe the goal you were working toward.
- Action: Describe your actions, the steps you took.
- Result: Describe the outcome, if possible. This is your time to take credit for your work or show what you learned.
It’s okay to talk about your weaknesses
Candidly confessing your biggest flaws in a job interview can throw off even the most confident candidate. But no one is perfect, and you don’t have to pretend to be in front of your potential new boss. Anything negative that you mention in an interview can be spun to show that it was a point of learning.
Mention the weakness, provide an example and then talk about specific ways you are working on or around this weakness. What did you learn from the situation? How would you handle it differently moving forward? This takes lots of practice, so prepare this response ahead of time.
Practice out loud
After you’ve prepared some responses, try practicing in front of a mirror, with a friend or a Career Development advisor. Scheduling a mock interview appointment with Career Services before your big interview can help reduce stress and boost your confidence. You’ll get immediate feedback on all of your responses and tips for highlighting your skills in the best way possible.
You can also utilize online interview preparation tools like InterviewStream. This mock interview practice portal records your responses to random pre-recorded interview questions. Only you can see your responses unless you want feedback from your peers, industry professionals or a career development advisor.
Do your homework
Employers love to see that you have taken time to get to know the company you’re interviewing with. You might even be asked a few questions about the company, so it’s best to do as much research as possible before an interview.
Read the “about” section of their website or company blog to learn about recent news and what’s important to them. Checking their social media accounts can also help you gain a sense of office culture. Take notes as you do your research. Develop your responses to highlight how your experiences and unique skills can benefit the company and the role you are interviewing for.
Prepare a few questions
An interview is a two-way street. Just as they are asking questions to learn about you and your skills, you should ask questions to be sure this is the right job for you. You will be given the opportunity to ask questions during an interview, so if you don’t come prepared with questions, the interviewer might assume you haven’t done your research or you’re not interested.
This is not the time to ask about salary or benefits. This is more so a time to ask questions that express your interest. You can ask more about the day-to-day responsibilities of the job, the company culture or the most important qualities needed to excel in the position. Finally, you can ask about the next steps in the interview process.
De-stress before the interview
It is normal to get nervous the day of your interview. It’s important to calm those nerves the morning of, otherwise your performance can be thrown off completely. Lay out your clothes, print out your résumé and have a travel plan so you arrive at least five minutes early. Eat a solid breakfast, drink lots of water and don’t over caffeinate—you want to appear relaxed, not jittery.
Finally, do whatever you need to do to calm your nerves. Work out, read, meditate or listen to music to put your mind at ease. Try a box breathing exercise or power posing 15 minutes before you head in to feel relaxed and confident. You’ve got this!