You will probably not meet anyone who has been through more interviews than me. Over the course of 3 years, I've been invited to do more than 50 interviews. Yes, that number is fifty. Five and a zero.
Millennials will have an average of 7 jobs before the age of 26. Currently, I've had 6 jobs, and 3 internships, and I haven't reached the age of 26 yet. So it's fair to say I've had my fair share of successful interviews and even more unsuccessful ones.
I still remember my first job interview ever. I was two weeks shy of turning 16 and was beyond nervous. I was shy and didn't know what to expect. But I remember that I left an impression that, unfortunately, many millennials fail to do. I am going to share with you some techniques that have worked to leave an impression with a potential employer.
Body language is vital to leaving a positive first impression.
This one seems so obvious that some of you might not even think it's worth mentioning. But so many people don't think about their body language when they are engaging in an interview! There's more to it than simply sitting up straight.
During my first interview, my future boss was impressed that I made consistent eye contact. Even though I was shy and obviously nervous, he understood that I was trying my best to relax and be confident. Why? Because I was making consistent eye contact. Apparently, that's something that a lot of people fail to do, as he pointed out to me.
Research common interview questions, and have an answer prepared for each one.
This is difficult to do as there are thousands of resources out there that provide hundreds of interview questions. You have no idea what questions the hiring manager will ask, so where do you even start?
From experience I can say that they will always, always, ask you to introduce yourself. "So tell me a little bit about yourself." Or something of that ilk. This is probably the most crucial part of the interview. It's your moment to shine so don't let it pass unnoticed! In essence, you should explain what goals you're working towards in your career, why you're interested in the job you're interviewing for, and something interesting you've done that will make you memorable.
My introduction usually goes like this: "Well, I recently graduated with a degree in Communications which I fell in love with while in college. I enjoy writing and working with technology so it was like getting the best of both worlds rolled into one degree. I'm hoping to hone my skills in public relations because I like networking with other professionals. I've learned a lot about PR through PRSA and connecting with bloggers online. Because of this, I recently started my own blog which has been so much fun."
I always wish I could say so much more during the introduction but this brief dialogue shows that I'm passionate about what I do, I'm interested in learning more, and I made myself stand out by mentioning I have my own blog.
Practice makes perfect.
Okay, okay, so perfection might be hard to achieve. But practicing your response to all types of interview questions will lead to confidence, and confidence is key to landing that job.
How did I practice? First I collected all types of questions and organized them into four categories: behavioral, problem-solving, motivation, and skill-based. Then I wrote down what I thought my best answers were. I shared those answers with my parents, friends, and colleagues. Getting a second, third, and sometimes the fourth opinion helped me figure out if I was answering questions thoroughly, and if my answers were exceptional.
Besides knowing what questions you might be asked, you should also prepare some questions for the hiring managers. Remember that interviews are a two-way street. There are plenty of sources that provide great ideas here, here, and here. Asking these questions will help both you and the employer figure out if you are a right fit to work together.
All of this practice prevented me from being stumped on a particular question and then entering panic mode. The more confident you are, the more relaxed you'll be, which will help you realize that interviews are simply a stepping stone into connecting with a potential employer.
In other words, take a deep breath, relax, and be yourself.
There's no point in taking on a job otherwise.