Career

Learning How to Own My Interview

What’s your one-minute success story?

This was the first question we had to ponder at the Career Centre’s Own Your Interview workshop, and I had no idea what to say. In my defense, it was 10 am, and I was incredibly sleep deprived. It was certainly a wake up call that I was NOT prepared to own my interview any time soon.

Interviews have always been something I’ve struggled with. Sure, most of them have gone well for me, but the anxiety that plagues me before every interview fills me with uncertainty and, probably, hinders my communication. I actually feel like I get more nervous for interviews the older I get, perhaps because the pressure to succeed grows increasingly higher the closer I get to graduation.

Of course, everyone gets jitters during an interview (or two weeks before, in my case), but preparing yourself for the interview and equipping yourself with the skills you need to succeed can help ease that anxiety, which is why I decided to attend the workshop.

As I would learn at the Own Your Interview workshop, giving an interview is essentially storytelling. This was an especially great way to frame the concept of an interview for an interview-phobic blogger.  Interviews are all about telling short career-related stories that show your skills, experiences, and motivation to succeed while keeping the interviewer interested and engaged.

The next part of the presentation gave me flashbacks to careers class. We discussed the different types of interviews (circuit, panel, telephone, Skype, etc.), and how to handle each of them.

For Skype interviews, it’s important to find a nice, well-lit place in your house to conduct the interview. It’s also a good idea to fully dress in interview-appropriate clothing—not just your shirt.

From experience, I can attest that this is a good idea. One time, during a Skype interview, my laptop ran out of batteries, and I had to get up to plug it in. I learned two things that day:

  • Wear professional pants, because you never know when you’ll have to stand up during a Skype interview.
  • Plug in your laptop beforehand, because it is super awkward to abruptly stand up and race to the nearest outlet in the middle of answering a question.

Being prepared for faux pas like these next time I have a Skype interview will, hopefully, ease my nerves next time.

Another good way to ease interview nerves is to practice. This is pretty common advice, but I’ve never actually implemented it before, except once. I’ve always winged my interviews, but the one time I did practice my interview beforehand, I noticed I spoke a lot more clearly and confidently than I did without practicing.

A good way to practice, as we discussed in the Own Your Interview workshop, is to look up specific types of questions:

  • Open-ended questions
  • Behavioural questions: they usually focus on times when you demonstrated a particular skill
  • Situational questions: hypothetical questions
  • Technical questions: these require you to research the company, interviewers, and the industry

The next part of practicing is to rehearse your answers out loud, which I’ve found helps me sound more natural and confident when communicating with interviewers. Your answers should always tell a specific and relevant story explaining the situation, the task, your actions, and your results.

The Own Your Interview workshop covered a lot of topics and advice I had already learned about from my own research. However, it was a good refresher to rehear about the interviewing process and interview tips. Since it’s currently summer job hunting season, it was also reassuring to hear others’ advice and experiences.

Since I’m still not totally comfortable doing interviews, I think it was a good idea to attend the workshop. When it comes to someone as panicky about interviews as me, who walked into the workshop unprepared to tell a one-minute success story, there’s no such thing as too much interview preparation.