By Annika Rittenhouse
Interviewing is scary. However, it won’t be as intimidating if you consider these pieces of advice:
* RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH! There is nothing worse than going into an interview unprepared. The more you know the less stressed you will feel going in to the interview. Research things like who are the top executives, what is/are the product(s), who are their users/audience, how do they market? Tailor the research based upon the role you are interviewing for but it is always good to have background knowledge on the company in general.
* Take as many interviews as you can. Practice may not make perfect but it will definitely improve your skills and confidence. You will learn from each interview so when you finally get to that really important one you know what the process is like (side note- if you are completely uninterested in the position don’t waste the interviewers time, just decline politely).
* Search interview questions either online or from your career center- yours may not be exactly the same but it can get you in the right frame of mind.
* Write down your questions you have before you go in. Spontaneous questions can be good and insightful but it is also helpful to have questions you have thought through- it will let the interviewer know you put effort into preparing for the interview.
*Bring extra resumes just in case. Usually they will ask for you resume pre-interview but always be prepared.
* Dress professionally. Even if they say it is a casual place figure out what is one step above their dress code and do that, you never want to be under-dressed.
* Send a thank you note after your interview, either by email or snail mail. It will leave a good impression and keep you at the top of their mind.
What I did:
I prepared prepared prepared! You are bound to be nervous about an interview but it will seriously help if you aren’t nervous about not knowing about the company. The interview that gave me perspective on how to prepare correctly for interviews was actually my bartending interview to work at Joe’s Cafe in Santa Barbara. I had gone in assuming I did not need to prepare much, just my resume and my bartending experience- but boy was I wrong! I was asked a list of 15 questions with things like: Who owns this bar? What other bars does he own? Why did you choose this bar over others? Why would you be good for this bar specifically? What are your strengths and weaknesses? How do you handle criticism? And on and on…. I never went into another interview unprepared.
I researched not only the company, but their products, history, competitors and how they earned their revenue. This took weeks for me to do, but gave me much more confidence when going in to the interview and in every interview I learned something new. I practiced interviewing with friends who gave me questions I hadn’t considered and helped me prepare for spontaneous answers.
I interviewed in LA for a sales job that after the interview I realized was not for me, but it gave me practice in how to answer tough questions about myself and again how to make it personal to the company.
I would say the interview that helped me the most was my interview at VISA Inc. I had prepared for weeks/months for this interview and felt confident I had done everything I could do to prepare. I went in to the interview and was immediately met with a stone cold interviewer. She had no facial expressions and after every answer would go on to the next question. I got questions about every internship I had held and school work I had done. Luckily I had thought about all of these types of questions before hand and was not totally blindsided. I even had prepared questions for them before hand so that I didn’t have to stress about thinking of them on the spot.
I realized here that you have to be prepared for any type of interviewer and you cannot let it influence your confidence. I left the interview a little bit concerned but again knew I had done everything I could. I ended up not getting the job and in hindsite honestly know it was for the best and I know I was not the best person for the job. I had wanted the job so badly I did not consider the job responsibilities very carefully- many responsibilities included financial/economic knowledge but because it was labelled marketing I didn’t consider the specific responsibilities.
Having gone through a tough and intense set of interviews at VISA I was so much more comfortable when I went to Google. Again I prepared before I went in and was confident that I knew the basics I needed to know. These interviews (5) went so much better than the others because I was passionate about the work and could show how my experience in college related to what the job was asking of me. I was asked the same question in one interview as I had been asked at VISA and thank goodness for having already had the question, and now knew I could answer it confidently. So even though I did not get the VISA job and rejected the other jobs I had interviewed for, those interviews ended up preparing me very well for my final interview(s) at Google where I ended up finding my home.
For more great college advice from Annika visit her website: