by Katie Fleming
Interviewing for graduate school, internships, or jobs is terrifying, and you are not alone in feeling super nervous about your upcoming interview! I have been interviewed both in person and via skype for internships, jobs, and graduate school positions, and I have a few tips to help you feel more prepared before you meet your future employer or step foot on your future school’s campus!
The first thing you should do prior to an interview is research the position or school. You should know what is going to be required of you before you accept your interview! You also want to start thinking of questions you may have for your interviewer. Take note of the business’ or school’s motto or central statement, as well as the “special something” the position or school is offering you (such as a unique program at a school or state of the art facilities at a new job). Make sure you bring this “special something” up so your interviewer knows 1) you did your research and 2) you are excited about an aspect of the position they probably also love!
Next, start looking up practice questions! If you are applying to a graduate program, google your school and program and “interview questions.” When I was interviewing for vet school, the Student Doctor Network provided me lots of information regarding not only possible questions, but also information on what I should expect throughout the entire day.
Start making lists of the experiences and jobs you have had throughout your college career, including jobs, internships, challenging classes, student organizations, research, etc. Once you have a list of your experiences, start answering the questions you find online. Look through all your experiences and decide which one is the best for a specific question. For example, the extremely common question, “describe an experience in which you were challenged,” could be answered by discussing a club you were in, but maybe discussing a challenging class would encompass more of the ideals the school or position idealizes (compare your answer with their central statement)!
If you are struggling with eloquently expressing the answers to your questions, think about using the STAR response. STAR stands for “Situation, Task, Actions, Response.” Every time you are asked a question, listen carefully to what they are asking and then think through your STAR response. For example, if I was asked, “When have you made a mistake and what were your actions after it occurred?” I would respond by describing my situation (in my research laboratory), discussing my task (the specific experiment I was conducting and my mistake), what actions I took (how I went about fixing my mistake), and my final response (how I will avoid making the same mistake in the future).
Finally, the night before, make sure you get plenty of rest (I’m sure you have never heard that before) and eat a decent breakfast. If you are nervous, you want to make sure you do not pass out! Set multiple alarms, confirm all your travel plans, and make sure you pack your business professional suit and portfolio! Right before your actual interview, head to the bathroom for a few minutes and do a power pose (hands confidently on your hips or arms held high) for a few minutes. Then, go nail your interview!
In the days following, make sure you send your interviewers a thank you email! Try to ensure you write to every person you interviewed with that day. If you do not know your interviewers’ names (I did not know some of my interviewer’s names because we did multiple mini interviews that were impersonal), email the admissions department and any coordinators who oversaw your day. Remind them of something fun or interesting you discussed in your interview, so they remember who you are! After all this, you are for sure going to get into your dream school or position. Stay hydrated, wear deodorant, brush your teeth, and make sure you enjoy your interview day!