Scoring a job interview is exciting but can also be anxiety provoking. Whether this is your first-ever job interview or you’ve been on many before, it’s completely normal to feel nervous. Fortunately, having the support and resources you need to show up prepared can help you shine in your best light. The College of Westchester (CW) Career Services team provides guidance and support to students so they can approach those conversations calmly and with confidence—and ace the interview.
Here, JoAnn Sondey the Director of Career Services at The College of Westchester, shares some interview wisdom.
Be Prepared To Answer Questions
Sondey recommends going online and looking up common interview questions for the industry your interview is in. Some are standard across all fields, though. “You can be pretty certain to be asked ‘tell me about yourself’ because it is a great way for the interviewer to break the ice and get to know you,” she says. “I find that if you are truly prepared to answer this you will soar for the rest of the interview.” She says your answer “should revolve around how your career matches the position you are interviewing for. This should include your interest in the position along with how your education, skills and experience match the position. It should be about 30 seconds long.”
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions
If the interviewer asks if you have questions, don’t panic! Sondey says, “Questions that you ask should be job related. For example: how will I be evaluated? What do you consider to be the biggest challenge of the position? Is there any specific training involved?” A few things to avoid, though, include “salary, vacation time or other benefits unless the interviewer starts to talk about them.”
Don’t Make An Easily Avoidable Mistake
“The most common mistake people make on interviews is that they do not prepare well for the interview,” says Sondey. “Know the job requirements of the position you are interviewing for so you can speak to how your resume matches those requirements.” Don’t forget to do your homework on the company and its mission as that counts for a lot. “First impressions happen within the first 7-10 seconds of meeting a person so you must be prepared to make a positive first impression. You should arrive early, not just on time, for your interview and be professionally dressed for success.” Also, keep the phone out of sight and in Do Not Disturb mode. She adds, “make the first move to introduce yourself with a firm handshake and a smile.”
Dress For Success
While there will be some variation across industry, Sondey recommends you keep things conservative and “wear a suit that is neat, clean and well pressed, preferably a dark color” like navy, black, grey, or brown. Keep accessories quiet (read: no silly or flashy ties or clunky jewelry). She also emphasizes making sure your and shoes are polished and, if you’re wearing a belt, it should match in color. For women, she advises wearing stockings and sticking with conservative shoes. For both men and women, “hair should be neat and clean and stay away from wearing heavy cologne or perfume.”
“If the company you are interviewing for is business casual,” she adds, it’s fine to dress that way. “For men, dress slacks or chinos, a button down shirt and no tie is fine. For women, a conservative dress or blouse and knee-length skirt or pants is acceptable.”
Have A Nervousness Game Plan
Again, it’s normal to feel nervous, says Sondey. To help, “be as prepared as possible. The night before, prepare your clothes, review the job description, your resume and top interview questions. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the interview location. Make sure you know where you are going so you do not get lost on the way and get there early. Think positively and remember to smile!”