We’ve all been told the tips and tricks for interviews from peers, teachers, and family members. You understand the importance of knowing your strengths and weaknesses, reading over those dreaded situational-based questions, practicing your smile and wave, and making sure you brush your teeth and shower beforehand.
If you’re like me, you still get confused on how to use these tips to help you prepare for an interview. It’s as if you have all the tools in the toolbox, but no idea what any of them are for.
The last time I prepared for an interview it was like studying for a test. Not just your nice, easy 10 point vocabulary quiz. No, it was like those 40% of your grade midterm exams. Do I regret the effort and time I put into this? Absolutely not. It was completely worth it. I firmly believe it is how I landed my internship at Hormel Foods– I got an A on the exam.
I decided to use the tips, or tools, I had heard numerous times before and actually take the initiative to practice them. I think more often than not this is where many people fail when it comes to interviews. You have to practice for them. It’s like writing a speech for class. You don’t practice it once before you speak in front of 30 people; you practice it a bajillion times, still hoping you won’t embarrass yourself when you go up and do the real thing.
One of the most successful ways I prepare for interviews is by making an Experience-Task-Growth Chart. I make three columns and write the role, what I did, and how I grew down on a piece of paper. This allows me to visualize my skills and abilities without having to think too hard. It also makes practicing those dreaded situational-based questions much easier because I can literally see my role, what I did, and how I grew or accomplished a goal, right on the piece of paper in front of me.
Here is an example of my Experience-Task-Growth Chart:
|Experience: My role
||Task: What did I do?
||Growth: How I grew
|Sassy Strawberry Cashier
Cleaned the Shop
|Held accountable for money and store upkeep
Was a positive influence on the business with my enthusiastic personality and attention to the customers
Problem solved based on customer situation, for example coupons failing
Did what I felt was best; was able to make quick decisions
Followed procedures and safety regulations
|Austin Country Club Lifeguard
and safety of patrons
Developed relationships with members
Undivided attention and full alertness to patrons and members
Confidence in my ability and certification in CPR and First Aid
Remained personable toward members
|Class Title Teaching Assistant
||Held one-on-one meetings
Met with professor weekly
Spoke in front of the class weekly
|Adapted to different personalities in order to fulfill criteria
Developed relationships with students and helped them transition into a new environment- I did this by relating to their experiences
Responsible for fair and valued work
Sacrificed my own time to be there for students in a difficult transition
|Cru Summer Mission Participant
||Spent 4 weeks with college students all over the US in Crested Butte, CO.
Experiential learning; hiking, biking, backpacking, whitewater rafting
|Grew in relationships with others, community, and leadership
Understood diversity; lived with 10 other girls who were previously strangers
Learned how to be vulnerable in new situations
|Cru Leadership Team Member
||Attended weekly meetings to plan and prepare our large group meeting for 70+ students
Met one-on-one with freshman members
Marketed the organization and conferences
|Utilized time management and collaboration skills
Creative; learn to think outside of the box
Problem solving- students were not as involved and their was a change in our organization. I had to use my creative and critical thinking to develop ways for students to be more engaged and apply a different approach
Another thing that helps me while I am being interviewed is bringing a copy of my resume. Usually I just set it to the side, but if I need to answer a question and can’t think of a great example I reference my resume. While many people may think this is distracting, it actually shows you are prepared and provides you with more opportunities to relate your experiences in unique ways.
Now that you know how to use a few of those tips, or tools in your toolbox, you’ll be better prepared for your next interview.
Good luck, and remember to be authentic!
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