Are You Truly Prepared?
We all know those movies. You see the trailer and you think, “Wow! Comedy, romance, action, and a good plot line! This movie is amazing!” Then you wait a month for it to come out and you gather your squad, buy your twelve dollar ticket, and a popcorn that’s three sizes too big and sit down for the movie. As the movie plays, you start to think, “Is this really the funny, sweet, intelligent movie that the preview showed??” By the end of the movie, you find yourself wondering how in the world the trailer looked so good because the trailer barely reflected the movie! This is what an interview is like, except YOU’RE the movie and the interviewer is the viewer. Your interview is the trailer and your performance in the job is the movie. Interviews can be overwhelming because there’s no playbook that says what you can and can’t do. After this though, you’ll be prepared to take on this interview and show them the best trailer of yourself possible!
So first off, like you’ve probably heard about countless other things, there is no one “right” answer to an interview. There are countless things that you could interview for, definitely beyond just a job! You could be interviewing to be a tutor or maybe a member of a team or group. My first big tip before an interview is to research the company or program for which you’re interviewing. By research, I mean that I would look for certain key things such as: mission statement or company/program goal, size of company and what the work atmosphere is like (i.e. formal or casual, fun or more serious.) Knowing these things about a company will allow you to know if you are a good fit for the position and how you should present yourself.
This brings me to my second tip for an interview, which is to prepare yourself for your interview. Once you have researched the program or place for which you are interviewing, try to think of questions that they may ask you. For example, if you are interviewing for a job where you will be working with kids, they may ask, “So why are you interested in working with children and not another age group?” That’s where the research comes in! The more you know the company, the more you can anticipate the questions that they may ask you and you can plan and prepare an answer. It seems necessary to note that you should not rehearse or write out your answers unless they have asked you to; simply think about something that you could talk about. Common questions that I have seen time and time again in interviews are:
“Why are you interested in becoming a ___________?”
“What is a unique characteristic that you could bring to our team?”
“What is your biggest strength and/or weakness?”
Try to think of a single word and then a story. So if you’re anticipating that they ask you what your biggest strength is, you would think, “Caring, volunteered at nursing home.” Having these short little ways to organize your thoughts will help you to speak more clearly and to come off as more “together” because you are more sure and fluid in your answer.
Thirdly, market yourself. Think back to the movie trailer metaphor…huge companies spend millions of dollars to air commercials about their movie and they try to find way that will make you want to see their movie. So, let’s not reinvent the wheel, but just take some million dollar ideas and use them for ourselves! First and foremost, the best commercials are authentic; meaning that they stay true to the product. Think of a company like…Apple. Apple has always been about being on the edge of tomorrow, being the innovator, the leader of new technology. So have you ever seen an apple commercial that has pioneers and is set in the 1700s? Of course not! That’s not who apple as a company is; apple commercials show innovators and catalysts of change, the young crowd that’s buzzing around their new technology. So for you, this means (as cheesy as it sounds) stay true to yourself. This, to me, means that you don’t pretend, if they ask you if you’d be ok with working behind a desk and you say yes when, in reality this sounds like the bane of your existence, this isn’t the right job for you and it will reflect in your enthusiasm and work down the road. If they ask you a question like this, politely tell them why you wouldn’t like this or why it wouldn’t work for you. Second is to be memorable. Memorable can come in alllllllll sorts of shapes and sizes but this is something personal! Tell a funny story from your childhood, tell them about an amazing opportunity that you had and how it impacted you, tell them about your inspiration or motivation…tell them because they want to know! Imagine sitting at a table for 2 days and seeing a new person every half an hour…they get bored too… so be the one that they remember!
And lastly, be confident. Now, this point is far easier said than done. For me, I always think that there is someone better, someone smarter, someone with more experience, someone with a better story. When I told my mom about this worry, she quoted the Desiderata which is a short piece that was written in 1927 by a man named Max Ehrmann. Among other things, he said,” If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.” (If you ever need something that will bring you clarity or help you take a step back from life, I would recommend highly Desiderata! It’s short, sweet, simple, and powerful.) Confidence to me comes from knowing that you did your very best. And I don’t mean that in the politically correct sort of way. I mean, when you walk into that interview, you remember the hours of work you put in, the late nights and the early mornings, the exhaustion and the hope that one day it will pay off, and you know that whether or not you get this position, you put the work in and all that you can do is your best. Interviews are so special because the interviewer is telling you that they have seen you on paper (your grades, your gpa, your experience, your essay) but now they want to get to know YOU! They want to talk with you and learn about you and see what you like, and how you treat them and how you speak.
So here you are. You’re the movie. You need to give the interviewer the most authentic and memorable version of the movie that they will get, if they do hire you. Make your interview so captivating that they can’t help but go see the movie.
-Adrianne Adkins, Junior, Class of 2018