Interviews are, to me, as nerve-wracking as they are awkward. Although I generally enjoy sharing my experiences and interests, the settings characteristic of interviews make these confessions feel forced. But establishing a routine to get ready for them, which includes unwinding, planning my speaking points, and choosing what to wear, greatly helps ease my nerves. I want to share some of my tips so that maybe you can incorporate some bits of my routine into yours.
On how I unwind, I prefer to read. My favorite genre is memoir, for narratives of lived experience let me understand the diversity of lived experiences and to consider my values conscientiously. Currently, I am reading Jeanette Walls’ memoir ‘Glass Castle’, which speaks to her experience growing up precariously and rootless-ly. I picked up this paperback at a free library propped in front of a house I passed. Having a paperback is handy for then I can read it at home and on transit (e.g. when I am heading to class). I also feel extremely humbled by the skill with which memoir authors write. To summarize an entire life into a neat narrative that fits into a small volume is no small feat.
Reading also helps me collect my thoughts. When I select my speaking points, I first try to anticipate what will be asked of me. Some common questions I have received include those relating to my future career goals, difficulties I have overcome, the way in which I prefer to spend my free time, and scenario questions relating to my fields of study: political science and American studies. I prefer planning out potential ideas I can convey (e.g. my personal values, what values I think should be prioritized in society), rather than rehearsal whole responses. This way, I don’t have to worry about forgetting any lines. I also enjoy thinking out loud to practice my tone, keeping it clear (not too loud and not too quiet) and my speech concise (e.g. three minutes per response).
On what I prefer to wear, I prefer pants to skirts. This way, I won’t have to fiddle with flattening my skirt, pulling it straight when it rides up, making sure I have not-torn stockings to wear underneath, and so forth. I also find it easier to tuck starched shirts and blouses under the waistband of my trousers. for a top, I usually stick with a white shirt or light blouse under a dark blazer. For shoes, I prefer flat leather loafers to heels, for I find it difficult to balance on the latter. I also reason that since I spend most of my time sitting down during an interview, no one will spend too much time looking at what’s on my feet. This is how I brush away any qualms of loafer scratches and scuffs—though I try to correct them beforehand using shoe polish. Though I do have a favorite necklace, I usually omit wearing it in formal settings to prevent myself from fiddling with the pendant.
I hope my experience with preparing for an interview has been insightful. I’m very much still an ‘interviewee work in progress’, so I am open to hearing what your tips and routines are! Let me know in the comments below.