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A lot of people say interviewing is like dating, and I would have to agree. Before the interview, you are nervously wondering how it will turn out and if the company is the right match for you. Even in the interview, each side is trying to figure out if the other is a good fit. And if the company sees potential in you, it may invite you for more interviews. However, interviewing and dating are fundamentally different. To help you succeed in your next interview, here are a few tips:
1. Watch your body language
Almost everyone knows that a firm handshake, a smile and eye contact are critical when introducing yourself to the interviewer, but it’s equally important to remain mindful of your body language during the interview. Do you fidget or use overly animated hand gestures when you get nervous? If you do, make a conscious effort to tone it down – instead of wiggling your foot, place it firmly on the ground or keep one hand in your lap when talking to not appear too animated. Moreover, make sure to sit upright in your seat, but resist the urge to lean forward as this can appear overbearing to your interviewer. Finally, maintain eye contact throughout the interview, yet refrain from staring, as this can be creepy. The most important aspect of controlling your body language during an interview is to remain aware of it. It also helps to practice in front of a mirror or a friend to see yourself or get an outside opinion.
2. Use the STAR method
STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Let’s look at an example that doesn’t use the STAR method:
Interviewer: “Tell me about a time you worked in a team with a difficult team member.”
Interviewee: “I’ve worked in teams multiple times for academic projects. Usually I assume a leadership role, and when conflict happened, everyone in the team worked to compromise and find a solution.”
This answer is vague and doesn’t do much to address the interviewer’s question. Here’s an example of an answer that uses the STAR method:
“In my Information Systems Analysis class, I was assigned to a 6 person group. During the course of the semester, the group had to write a group paper and create a presentation based on a case study. One of our team members would commit to doing specific amounts of work, but at times wouldn’t deliver. This was particularly frustrating to everyone in the group, so I took the time to talk to the team member. I asked him why he had trouble keeping up with the workload, and it turned out that he had overloaded his courses that semester and was having difficulty managing. I worked with him to find an amount of work that he could complete each week and with the group to find a time when everyone in the group could meet just to do work. After I did that, we were able to complete the amount of work needed each week for the project and we ended up getting an A on the assignment.”
As you can see, the second example illustrates a situation (the group project for the Information Systems Analysis class), a task (dealing with an underperforming team member), an action (talking to the team member and the group) and a result (completing the work and getting an A). This answer is much more specific to the interviewer’s question, and it clearly demonstrates how the interviewee dealt with the situation.
3. Be confident in your abilities
Interviewers are trying to find out about YOU in an interview, so don’t be afraid to showcase your abilities. Be able to say that you are good at something or that you accomplished something. If you are a great writer, don’t be afraid to say so, just support it: “One of my strengths is that I’m an excellent writer. In my junior year, I won an essay competition for my department, and I have also been an editor for the school’s award-winning literary magazine since my sophomore year.” Furthermore, you don’t need to use “we” in describing actions you took within a group, and you don’t need to downplay your abilities. However, know the difference between confidence and arrogance – you don’t want to be off-putting.
4. Use your research in the interview
Before interviewing, you most likely did a lot of research about the company: reading the company’s website, press releases and new articles, and researching the company’s industry. That’s great, but it’s not helpful if you don’t use it to your advantage in the interview. A perfect time to use some of this information is when an interviewer asks why you want to work for the company. You could say that you’ve been impressed with company’s philanthropy work or the company’s extensive training and mentoring program for new hires. Just be sure to be specific. Finally, showcase your research prowess when you get the opportunity to ask questions at the end. If the company posted a 9% increase in revenues from last year, ask about it. Showcasing your research demonstrates to the interviewer that you’re serious and enthusiastic about the company and position.
These are just a few tips to help you interview like a pro, but they will get you headed in the right direction.
What interview tips do you have? Leave a comment and tell us!
Rebecca Wessell is a first year graduate student pursuing an M.S. in Information Managementand a Certificate of Advanced Study in Data Scienceat the SU School of Information Studies. She is also a graduate assistant for the Global Enterprise Technology program. She graduated with a B.A. in French Studies from Emory Universityin Atlanta, GA. Her interests include information management, data mining and analytics, web technologies, and coding. Contact her at email@example.com find her on LinkedIn.