By: Emmy Petit-Frere, Peer Advisor
“So, tell me about yourself?” If that’s not the most dreaded question asked in an interview, I don’t know what is. You’d think it would come easy to tell someone (who knows nothing about you) a little bit about yourself, but it’s not. This person is your possible future employer! Everything you say counts; even the ‘um(s), ‘like(s)’, and those awkward blank stares when you don’t know how to answer a question. So let me help you out a little bit with some tips beyond the conventional, “dress for success, “ “be on time,” and “make eye contact” advice that have helped me get through a couple of interviews.
1. Be personable; be yourself.
Need I say more? Be you, and just that. You want to impress your future employer, but don’t lose yourself in the process. Rather than transforming yourself to your possible future employer’s criteria, key in on the elements of your personality, experience, and work ethic that will benefit the company’s culture.
Pretty obvious, right? No, but seriously, talk! The best way to avoid those hard to answer and often times awkward questions is to answer them before they ask! My favorite interview thus far started out as a conversation about my shoes which then led to my interest in sports, to my love for traveling, to my passion for learning/speaking multiple languages, to a load of skills I had. Had I been asked, “what skills do you obtain that will benefit this company,” I would have probably forgotten to mention many of my skill sets or just gone completely blank. Interactive conversation allows for the interview to be comfortable, genuine, and effective.
3. Tie in your experiences.
I’ve found that this makes answering some of those tough questions so much easier! Here’s an example: Often, employers ask, “How do you approach situations of conflict in the work setting?” This can be a hard question to answer, especially for those of us who have never really had a real job; after all we’re just college students. You have more experience than you think- use it! We’ve all had that dreaded college group project (which somehow ends up being an individual/less than the full group effort LOL), an affiliation or leadership role within a club, volunteer work, or even a Federal Work study job. These are all valid experiences to tie into your responses. Be prepared to use your experiences to answer your interviewers questions.
4. Be memorable.
Stop mentioning things that are already on your resume! If the employer hadn’t already scrutinized your resume enough prior to your interview, you wouldn’t be there in the first place. This interview is where you make the lasting impression; this is where you put a face to the resume. You want to be able to be memorable enough that the possible employer can pick up your resume the next day and say, “Emmy! That’s the short girl with the crooked dimples who loves to travel!” My height (or lack thereof), crooked dimples, and love for travel seem to ALWAYS make it into my interview conversations. Sometimes it’s a story, a physical feature, or just your personality that catches the interviewer’s attention. Whatever it is, use it and be memorable!
5. Do your research
Learn about the company, and use your knowledge to not only show your interest, but to aid in keeping the conversation going, tying in your skill set to the company’s needs, and to most importantly impress your interviewer! Go prepared!
Well, these are just some tips that have helped me in my interviews with employers. Don’t forget the conventional tips as well! I’m sure you know them by heart (Be on time, dress for success, eye contact, firm handshake, blah blah blah.) The most important thing is that you PRACTICE! Interviews aren’t always easy, but you can make them easier with a little practice. Lucky for you, Toppel Career Center offers interviewing workshops and mock interviews where you can run through and practice your interview skills. Visit HireACane.com to find out when workshops or mock interviews will be offered. Good luck and remember, everybody wants to hire a Cane! 🙂