You know, if it weren’t for the Career Centre, you’d be reading somebody else right now. The Career Centre was there to rip apart my resume, tear up my cover letter and practice my interviewing skills, all while being encouraging, positive, and full of smiles. In essence, they landed me my very first job.
Open all year long, the Career Centre is located in the Koffler Building on the corner of St. George and College and is the largest of its kind in Canada. Apart from their fabulous website (they just launched an interactive online resume tutor – it’s beautiful!), comprehensively stocked library with binders full of different job information and their bi-annual extern program, they also have stress-free drop-in clinics tailored to different stages of the job search process. Fariya told you about her experience with the Resume Clinic, so let me tell you about mine with the Interview Clinic*.
On Wednesday, exactly one week before my real job interview, I woke up at 9:44 to sign up for an appointment (registration opens at 9:45). And good thing I did, because the clinic was fully booked when I checked an hour later. I headed over to see Hana at the Career Centre at 11:30, dressed in a grey pant suit and clutching my purse for dear life with my nails still polished purple and yellow from the Easter weekend. It wasn’t exactly stress-free. In fact, when I visited Hana later, to interview her for this article, I thought she had renovated her room, because there was a flight of stairs attached to her walls that I hadn’t noticed! I was just that nerve-wracked.
But I didn’t have anything to worry about. Hana greeted me with a warm, reassuring smile and led me to her office in the basement. She loved my nails, by the way, but suggested a more neutral colour for the real thing. The interview clinics are half an hour long, and divided into two chunks. Hana spent 15 minutes doing a mock interview with me, asking me basic interview questions and some questions she thought I would be asked based on the job posting. To my surprise, I answered her job-specific questions easily, but when she asked me what I thought my strengths and weaknesses were, I looked like a cross between a deer in the headlight and a gaping goldfish! We spent the next 15 minutes discussing strategies to answer tough interview questions.
Preparation, Hana told me, is key for a positive interview experience. One of the most common mistakes during an interview is letting your nervous energy take hold of you. By being prepared, you’ll be able to talk through your nervousness until you’re able to regain control again. That was me, one week later. Legs shaking and mind blank, I was able to answer the first question without too much thought, allowing me precious time to acclimatize to the environment and calm down (Apparently, my nervousness didn’t show and I “looked confident” during my interview. Hearts to Hana!).
So how do you prepare? Research! Doesn’t that sound intuitive?
- Know your resume, know the position you’re applying for, the organization, and the labour market. What duties will you be responsible for? What skills do you have that allows you to fulfill those duties?
- Anticipate the questions you may be asked, and be specific with examples when you answer.
- Prepare all the things for the day of: reference list, what you’re going to wear, how you’re going to get there, etc.
- Finally, practice, practice, practice! The Career Centre offers their service to students at every level, whether you’re an new undergrad or a PhD. They understand all sorts of interview situations, from lunch interviews to academic interviews to multi-day interviews. If you can’t get to a clinic session, drop by their workshops, and if you can’t make it to their workshops, grab their tip sheet from the library and practice with family and friends.
It’s never too late in the game to prepare for an interview. There are still plenty of summer jobs around, and even if you’re not in the market for one, honing your interviewing skills add an invaluable job search tool to your arsenal.
So, thanks Career Centre! I love you guys! <3
Until next week,
PS: Oh, and that question about my strengths and weaknesses? I wasn’t asked, thankfully (even if I was prepared).
*masquerading under the “Same Day Counselling” heading on the sign-up page