Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own.
One of the most nerve-wracking experiences students face is the dreaded interview. Whether for a job, internship or volunteer opportunity, being interviewed is (unfortunately) a part of life. For us college students, it is especially important to develop the skills to excel under pressure while answering a slew of questions from someone we are trying to impress.
It’s unusual these days to have graduated from college without being interviewed. So, after speaking to some fellow Terps, reflecting on my personal experiences and consulting a human resources representative who interviews for a living, I’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’ts to help you glide through your next interview.
One of the most generic questions is: “Tell me about yourself.” Even a question this basic is important, because the interviewer wants to get a feel for your personality. No, they don’t really want to know about the new diet you’re trying, or which show you binge-watched over the weekend; they want to know what skills you will bring to their company, and how you’ll jibe with the people in the workplace.
Are you a team player? Do you like to take on responsibility and leadership roles? Are you the type of person who would come in early and leave late to finish an important project? It’s important to be cautious when telling the interviewer about yourself, because you don’t want to ramble. Your response to each question should be brief, yet clear. Being succinct in your interview indicates that you can communicate effectively.
Make sure not to oversell yourself; but don’t undersell yourself either. Even if they seem obvious, always highlight your accomplishments. If interviewing for a position in a specific business field, for example, provide metrics to detail your progress and past developments.
However, don’t boast about your previous successes. Even if you have a laundry list of accomplishments, arrogance is rarely appreciated, especially from a college student who is relatively inexperienced compared to other adults in the field. Be honest about the skills you possess, and make sure to explain why those skills are useful for the particular job or internship position you are seeking.
If you are moving from one company to another, the interviewer might ask why you are deciding to leave. Again, don’t beat around the bush. Be honest about your goals for the future, and how the company you are interviewing for aligns with your plans. However, it is never appropriate to complain about your current company; even if your boss was unbearable, whining about them does not come across well to the person interviewing you. It is important to remain tactful when explaining why you want to move on from your current place of employment.
Although this summary of tips could be much more exhaustive, the major points highlighted above are some crucial things to consider. Remember that nerves before an interview are completely natural, but try not to get caught up in the pressure of it all. Composure and confidence are among the best tools to develop before walking into an interview.
Asha Kodan is a sophomore biology major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.