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Getting Interview Ready: Tips & Tricks

Let’s face it, interviewing is never fun for anybody, even if you’ve had a billion jobs and are now an expert at it. Interviews can bring a nervous feeling that is sometimes so unbearable that you just don’t want to interview at all! But life is about stepping out of your comfort zone and exploring new opportunities. Being able to see a job you want and having the confidence to ace the interview is such a reassuring feeling.

Here are some tips to help you gain confidence in yourself, even when you have those pre-interview stomach knots:

Research the Organization: Always make sure to research the organization! Most interviews will include some version of the question, “What do you know about us?” or “Why do you want to work with us?” Usually interviewers want to know if you’ve done your research. Do you know their values, mission, and story? Even if they don’t ask you that question, by doing this type of research, you will be more prepared to answer other questions and show that you really want to work for the organization. Learn more about what to look for when researching an organization.

Practice And Prepare: It’s always a good idea to review typical interview questions that employers may ask you. Here’s a great list. Once you have all your questions together, make sure to practice how you’re going to answer and respond. A great method for responding to interview questions is the STAR method! Use this method to talk about specific experiences you have had that will help you succeed in the job you’re interviewing for:

  • S: Start your story by painting a specific picture of the situation you faced.
    • What was the exact situation?
    • Who was involved?
    • Why did the situation happen?
  • T: Use this opportunity to explain your specific role in the task.
    • Why were you involved in this task?
    • What is the background story?
  • A: Discuss very specifically the actions you took to resolve the situation.
    • What steps did you take to resolve the situation?
    • Why did you choose to complete the task this way?
  • R: Clearly detail the result of your actions and highlight your strengths.
    • What was the outcome?
    • How do you feel about the result?
    • What did you learn?
    • How did this situation influence who you are today?

Make Sure You Have Time For Everything: With interviews, if you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re early, you’re on time. Employers usually prefer for you to arrive 10 to 15 minutes prior to your interview. Here are some tips for arriving on time: Lay out your clothes the day before, check to see how long the distance and travel time will be, make sure you have gas in your car or money on your transit pass, and add in extra travel time in case there’s traffic or another delay.

Stay Professional: Make sure you come across professionally! Remember to wear appropriate interview attire, don’t talk over the interviewer, and make sure your cell phone is off. Additionally, try to develop a professional connection with the interviewer. Here are some helpful tips on connecting with your interviewer.

Whatever happens, remember to stay calm, breathe and believe in yourself because you’ve got this! Try not to overthink things and keep reminding yourself that you put in the work and effort for this interview. You researched the company, practiced your answers, and prepared to show up on time and professionally. You’re going to do great! 

Want to learn more strategies for improving your soft skills? Browse our other Soft Skills for Career Success blog posts and check back next month for a new topic. You can also email jobsforyouth@smcgov.org to sign up for one of our career-success workshops or check out our workbooks to further develop your skills on your own.