Emma has been through the interview process, and she's sharing her tips to help you be prepared, stand out, and show your best self during your upcoming interviews, whether they're in-person or virtual.
The most important part of interviewing is preparation. Not your actual experience, GPA, or anything else that you have done in the past. While these are important in the job search, those are often what get you the interview! At the point of interviewing, there is no longer a need to worry about these things, they are what they are and now it is time to show them in the best way possible. Someone with less experience but who can speak to it really well can outperform the person with more experience but who has no clue how to talk about it!
The first step in to prepare should be a simple google search of “Behavioral Interview Questions.” For students like myself, who are applying for internships or entry-level positions, we usually do not have enough experience to be answering really technical questions about positions, so the best way a company can predict how well of an employee you will be is by your past accomplishments and behaviors. I like to sort the questions into categories.
Here are some examples on some common topics you will be asked about:
- Successes/failures - what you learned from them
- Overcoming obstacles
- Leadership experiences
- Conflict resolution
From here, you want to compile all of the scenarios you have been through that you can alter to fit into these categories on command. For example, something I always bring up during my interviews is talking about my study abroad experience. This can easily be morphed to fit any of the categories above. Especially through the internship aspect that CAPA offers, this can be a great experience to touch upon cultural obstacles that you had to overcome in the workplace. Your goal should be to be choosing between examples that you have already practiced and are stored in your head when your interviewer is asking you a question. This makes it a lot easier because you are only considering a few scenarios rather than rifling through every experience you have ever had!
A question that you don’t need to guess about them asking is “Why our company?” This is a given that a company will want to know what about them is different for YOU. An interview is a two way street. You should use this opportunity to decide if this is a company you are interested in as much as they are interested in hiring you as an employee. That being said, it is also a way that you can show the company why you personally connect with them. Maybe it is their community service initiatives, their core values, or their mission. The research you do will show them that you are genuinely interested in their position and that you know what you are getting yourself into.
Another thing that people do not capitalize on enough is thank-you’s and connecting with your interviewer after the interview. It is important to do this because it makes you stand out from others and puts your name in front of the recruiters face one more time. It is also a good time to touch on something memorable that you talked about to jog their memory to be able to identify your name to a face. Connecting with your interviewer on LinkedIn is also a great idea because this will lead them to view your profile and be reminded or view something about you that you want to get across.
Lastly, you want to make sure that you stand out during your interview. What makes you different from the rest. For some people it is your style, yes you should be dressed professionally but don’t let this hinder your strong personal fashion taste if you have it! Something that I always do that makes me stand out to my recruiters is to bring hard copies of my work so they can see it in front of their own eyes rather than just hearing about it. I worked as a public relations intern and created media for an outdoors company so I always make sure to bring printed color photos I have taken for them! It is a nice refreshing break that your recruiters will definitely remember about you if you bring something new, fun, and interesting to the table!
This is my professional headshot and also how I try to present myself during interviews. A suit jacket and pants as well as no more than 3 pieces of jewelry are customary for professional dress!
With the current global situation at hand, a lot of us will be facing virtual interviews with companies over platforms like Zoom and Skype. These are just as important and should be taken as seriously as in-person interviews!! Yes, that means you should be fully dressed from head to toe. Not only in case your employer asks you to stand up but it also helps you get into the professional mindset.
This is an example of how NOT to dress for your virtual interviews!
Here are some other tips to having a successful virtual interview:
Have a professional background - That poster you got when you were in middle school probably shouldn’t be making it into your interview for an internship you are trying to secure junior year of college. I usually like to play it safe and position myself to have a blank wall as my background so I have nothing to worry about. I also think that it is a good idea to have your camera stabilized on a surface rather than filming yourself with your phone selfie-style.
Maintain eye contact and interactive body language- It is easy to forget to interact the way that you would with a person if they were sitting in front of you. Just because they are through a screen doesn’t mean you should not still try to maintain eye contact and react physically to the conversation you are having. You still want to try and get your personality across by smiling, using body language, and changing tone while speaking.
There are many other things that can contribute to a successful interview. The way you dress, your etiquette, or even just the way you click with a certain recruiter. These are just a few things that I personally think are some of the best ways to make yourself stand out!
Emma Estabrook is an official CAPA blogger for spring 2020, sharing her story in frequent posts on CAPA World. A Finance and Business Information Systems major at the University of Pittsburgh, she is studying abroad in Sydney this semester.
Emma's journey continues all semester so stay tuned.