My last post was about how to ace a college exam, so I thought I’d follow it up with my take on “how to ace an interview.” Four years later, I am now a senior at Illinois, and I am so excited to be graduating soon! However, I’ve been busy interviewing for grad schools this semester, and I’ve learned a lot during the whole process. Let me share some insight on how to prepare well and ace your upcoming job, internship, or grad school interview.
Why do you want to do what you want to do?
The first question that I knew I would be asked at every interview was, “Why do you want to pursue this career path?” and additionally, “Why do you want to join this school/company?” This is the one question I truly prepared beforehand by nailing down some key points and rehearsing my answer multiple times.
Practice, practice, practice!
If conversational speaking is a challenge for you, be sure to get some practice before the interview! As odd as this sounds, I practiced in front of a mirror to adjust my body language and maintain eye contact with my surroundings. I also utilized the career center, as they hold mock interview sessions that you can sign up for to replicate the real interview day.
Write a list of strengths and weaknesses.
This is a good list to have in the back of your mind because, while companies and schools would love to know what you are good at, they also want to see that you can recognize and understand any weaknesses that you may have. It shows that you are human and you’re still open to making progress and growing as an individual!
Buy or rent an interview outfit.
I bought a basic black suit coat and dress pants and paired it with a nice top. I also like to wear some basic jewelry (maybe watches or a nice tie for guys). Wear comfortable but appropriate dress shoes. Illinois offers the “Career Closet,” where you can rent gently-used business professional clothing and accessories. While your personality is the most important during the interview, first impressions can have a lasting impact as well!
Be prepared, be confident, and you will do great on your interview! Just be yourself and show your passion and love for the career path that you have chosen, because that will ultimately resonate through your body language and the conversations you have during the interview day.