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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A College Student's Career Guide:
How to Prepare for a Job Interview


How to prepare for an interview for students. Interview preparation for interview questions like tell me about yourself and more interview tips.


After what seems like thousands of applications, you finally got a call for an interview. Yay! Congrats! So happy for you! But, now, the excitement is over and your nerves are starting to kick in. "What am I supposed to do?" you think to yourself. Well, it's a good thing you came across A College Student's Career Guide: How to Prepare for an Interview because I'm gonna get you walking into that interview more confident.

What to Do the Night Before an Interview:

1.) Research the company.


Designed by Katemangostar

A pet peeve of any interviewer is an interviewee that knows nothing about the company and what they do. A good place to start is the company about page on their website. That's where you'll find the company's mission statements, values, and history of the company. Some companies will separate the values of their company on a separate tab.

Another thing to research is the company's products and services. You get more of an idea of what the company does and you can pull out some product knowledge when they ask you what you know about the company.

2.) Practice answering common interview questions.

Practice makes perfect. By practicing, you'll have a gist of how you're going to answer some of the most common interview questions and sit there thinking, "Oh shit, I don't know what to say." Some of the most common interview questions are:

a. Tell me about yourself.

For this question, you don't want to just recite your resume. They can see what you've done by looking at your resume. Bring some background information in like some accomplishments, why you decided to go into a particular job field, and relevant stories.

The Muse has a great formula called the Present-Past-Future Formula. First, you go into the present - where you are now. Then, talk about relevant past job experiences. Next, talk about the future - why you're excited about this particular opportunity.

Here's a quick video from The Muse for more detail and an example on how to answer this question:

If you're unable to watch the video right now, the example Kathryn uses in the video is:

Kathryn Tell Me About Yourself Final from The Muse on Vimeo.

“Well, I’m currently an account executive at Smith, where I handle our top performing client. Before that, I worked at an agency where I was on three different major national healthcare brands. And while I really enjoyed the work that I did, I’d love the chance to dig in much deeper with one specific healthcare company, which is why I’m so excited about this opportunity with Metro Health Center.”

b. What are your strengths?

Your answer can range from any talents, soft skills, technical skills, or experience that you have. Just as long as it's relevant. If you need some inspiration, just look at the job description. If they say that they need someone who is detail-oriented, mention that you're detail-oriented if you are. But, don't just leave them hanging there, tell them an example that shows how that's your strength.

For example, "I'm very communicative. I think it's really important to communicate with other people on board because it helps the team in the long run. During group projects, I would make sure everyone was on the same page and everyone was caught up to speed with any setbacks and we would come up with solutions so it wouldn't affect our project."

c. What are your weaknesses?

My favorite approach is to say an actual weakness and say how you're working on it. It shows that you're self-aware and proactively trying to work on yourself. An example of this approach would be:
  1. "I'm shy, but I knew I really wanted to get out of my shell. So, I decided to join a peer prevention education group to force myself to talk to people that I don't know about a topic that I was passionate about to make it a little easier. And, I've definitely seen myself grow and get out of my shell a little more."

d. Name a time you had a challenge at work and how did you deal with it?

When answering this question, think of S.T.A.R - situation, task, action, and result.
First, explain the situation in one or two sentences.
  1. "When I worked at XYZ store, I dealt with a very unhappy customer who was exchanging merchandise that she had got on a promotion. We weren't supposed to honor promotions that had already passed."
Second, explain what task were you trying to achieve.
  1. "So, naturally, in any customer service job, my goal was to find a solution that will make the customer happy within the company's policy."
Third, explain what action you took to overcome the challenge.
  1. "I saw on her receipt that it was within the 2-week price adjustment period. So, I called my manager to make sure it was okay with him if I could honor it."
Last, talk about the result. Typically, you would mention a positive end result, so, your employer will think that you're a proactive problem-solver and you can think on your feet.
  1. "Even though he was hesitant, he thought it was the best course of action and said it was okay. I applied the discount and she left happy."
How it ties in all together:
  1. "When I worked at XYZ store, I dealt with a very unhappy customer who was exchanging merchandise that she had got on a promotion. We weren't supposed to honor promotions that had already passed. So, naturally, in any customer service job, my goal was to find a solution that will make the customer happy within the company's policy. I saw on her receipt that it was within the 2-week price adjustment period. So, I called my manager to make sure it was okay with him if I could honor it. Even though he was hesitant, he thought it was the best course of action and said it was okay. I applied the discount and she left happy."

e.) Why do you want to work here?

Despite the phrasing of the question, your answer shouldn't be about you. It should be about the company. Research the company itself, their products and services, their objectives, and their values. And, your answer should reflect how they match your values and what you like about what they offer.
Here are some examples from TheBalanceCareers.com,

  • This company is internationally known for its healthcare products, and my experience in the marketing of healthcare products has me intrigued by the opportunity this position presents.
  • Your company's reputation is stellar. Former colleagues of mine work here, and I've seen how much they value the company's willingness to let employees pitch big ideas and have an active leadership role in new initiatives.
  • Not only are you a leader in the industry, with strong financials and a great business model, but I've also seen on your Facebook page and Twitter account that users of your product are hugely enthusiastic. In fact, I'm a product user myself and am eager to be a part of the product's development and distribution.

3.) Prepare your questions.


Towards the end of every interview, they will ask you, "Do you have any questions for us?" The answer should always be yes. Employers will pass on people who don't have questions. So, you should have your questions ready to go. It's also your opportunity to learn more about the company.

Some examples of questions to ask are:
a. What would be the day-to-day responsibilities of this position?
b. How would you describe the company culture?
c. How is the training for this position?
d. What's your favorite part of working here?
e. What is the next step after this?

Write your questions down on the second page of your portfolio or notebook so the first page can be reserved for taking notes in case the interviewer says anything noteworthy.

4.) Print out your resume or CV.


Most interviews won't really ask you for your resume, but just in case they do, have an up-to-date resume printed out to show that you're prepared.

Read A College Student's Guide: How to Write a Resume if you need help setting up your resume.

5.) Pack your bag.


Have your portfolio, printed resume, and research notes ready-to-go in the morning by putting it in your bag the night before. No need to be running around and getting flustered before your interview.

6.) Pick out your outfit.


Like packing your bag the night before, this saves you a lot of time in the morning and allows for your morning to go a lot more smoothly. Have your outfit ready so you don't have to think about what to wear. You just put it on and go.

What to wear to an interview:

Always dress up even if you know that the company has a casual dress code. You have 7 seconds to make a good first impression. So, dressing sharp will definitely help with that.

For women,


For men,

7.) Plan your trip.


Make sure you know how you're going to get there and back whether it be taking your car, public transportation, someone dropping you off, or taking Uber or Lyft. Calculate how long it will take you to get there and put into consideration of traffic if you're going during rush hour. If you're taking a car, make sure you know ahead of time if there's a parking. If there isn't, remember to factor in the time it might take you to find parking.

Day of Interview

1.) Arrive early.

Arrive 10-15 minutes early to your interview. It shows that you're prompt and reliable. Don't show up too early though. You'll seem too eager. Wait in your car or if there's a coffee shop nearby spend some time there to recap your research notes on the company.

2.) Make sure you look good before the interview.

After greeting the receptionist, ask the receptionist where the bathroom is and go to the bathroom to make sure you look good. There's nothing worse than realizing after your hair or makeup was a mess or you had something stuck in your teeth after the interview.

3.) Do your power poses.

Doing a power pose for 2 minutes can actually increase your confidence at that moment. To read more about the science behind this and to get more confidence boosters, take a look at 7 Things to Do to Boost Your Confidence

4.) Be nice to everyone that you speak to in that company.

Talking to everyone with respect and dignity - I would think - would be a no-brainer, but after working in retail for several years, I'm not surprised that there are people who would talk down to the receptionist or the janitor because it's considered a lower position.

You're trying to make a good impression to everyone in that company, not just the interviewer. It's not uncommon for the interviewer to ask the receptionist or janitor what their impressions of you were. After all, it does show a lot about your character if you're rude to someone because you think they're below you even if you did well on the interview.

5.) Give a good handshake and smile.

You can tell a lot about a person from their handshake. If it's too light, you might be exposing you're weak. If it's bone crushing, it's like you're trying to overpower your interviewer. If you look away, you might be showing that you're shy and insecure. If you hold onto their hand for too long, you're coming off too strong and desperate. For more handshake interpretations, read Forbes's article Seven Super Revealing Things Your Handshake Says About You.

So, when you give a handshake, maintain eye contact, smile, and give a firm, brief handshake. A College Student's Career Guide: How to Expand Your Network has a video on how to give a handshake if you want a visual on how to do this.

6.) Send a thank you note or email.

At the end of the interview, always ask for the interviewers business card so then you can send them a personal thank you email or note. If you prefer the more traditional route by sending a note but their address isn't on it, just send it to the company with their name on it. It'll get rerouted to whom it's addressed to.

I personally prefer the more traditional route because it'll definitely stick out compared to an email. Also, I've worked at Papyrus and was surrounded by beautiful stationery so I'm biased.

What Should Be In Your Thank You Note or Email:

1.) Gratitude for their time and interest
2.) Mention something specific that you guys talked about during your interview so they know that this is a personal email and not just a template that you use for everyone. Everyone wants to feel special, you know.
3.) Mention what else would you bring to the table
4.) Mention that you're excited about the position

Por ejemplo,

Hello John,

I really enjoyed talking to you about the Sales and Marketing Associate position today. The job position seems to be a great match for my skills and interests.

Not only that, after speaking to you about the company participating in community service every month, it only solidified that this is a company that I would love to work in.

In addition to my enthusiasm, I will bring the position my strong written and oral communication skills and my ability to cooperate and to work well with others. 

I look forward to hearing from you. I appreciate the time you took to interview me and for your consideration.

Best Regards,
Jane


There you have it! Practically everything you need to know how to prepare for a job interview! Now, you just have to implement these and you'll be all ready to go! You got this! Good luck!

If you know someone who has an interview coming up, share it with them on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest. I would love to hear where your next interview is in the comments below! Thank you for reading and take a little appreciation for taking this step towards your growth!

Job interview tips on job interview questions and job interview outfits. Interview tips for women and students.
How to prepare for an interview for students. Interview preparation for interview questions like tell me about yourself and more interview tips.

How to prepare for an interview for students. Interview preparation for interview questions like tell me about yourself and more interview tips.

3 comments :

  1. GIRL!! I LOVE THIS POST! I'm a student and newly turned blogger but I'm hoping to get a full-time job at some point. Anyways, I think it's always important to talk about job interviews and how to prepare properly because sometimes it can feel like you're walking into a dark hole all alone hahaha. Regardless, I love this post and I'm definitely going to follow!

    Chantal
    wethestory.ca

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Chantal! I'm so happy that you're finding value out of this!

      P.S. Just check out your blog and I love it!

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