Interview Prep: Words of Advice from an Employer

Portraits of Career Center staff members and photos of advising sessions and interviews.

Congratulations, you’ve been invited to interview for one of your dream jobs or internships!  The key to successful interviewing is preparation and below are some tips and words of advice to help you stand out from the crowd and ace the interview!

Prep like you would for an exam

What are you best tactics to ace an exam? Do flashcards help? Do you need to explain the material to a friend to best retain the knowledge? Some people study best by highlighting and re-writing. Whatever your study style is, why not apply that to the interview prep? Think of the things that help you the most in the classroom and try to apply it in this new setting. For me, it was putting behavioral questions on flashcards and bullet pointing exemplifying stories on the other side. Interviews are a test of your memory recall just like an exam!

Preparation includes…LinkedIn?

Yes! As an interviewer, I get asked about my career trajectory all the time. It stands out to me when a student takes the initiative to go on my LinkedIn and ask me specific questions about my career path like, “I see in your 3rd role with the company you oversaw the Connecticut salesforce. What challenges were different there compared to your previous role in New Hampshire?” A more informed question begets a deeper conversation!

The Power of 3’s

My record of interviews in one day is 23. I ask a mix of behavioral questions and what I like to call ‘coffee chat questions’, meaning ones that aren’t so formal. Coffee chat questions could be something like “what are you passionate about” or “what gets you out of bed in the morning?” Instead of going on a monologue, think about how you can make a roadmap of answers for your interviewer. What does that mean? The human brain is well suited to follow numerated outlines. If you answered the passion question above by taking a breath and saying “there are many things I am passionate about but I want to focus, briefly, on the top three – service, revelry, and family,” I now have a roadmap of what you are briefly going to discuss in more detail. It also serves as a nice indicator of when you are wrapping up your answer. As an interviewer, sometimes answers end abruptly or go on longer than you think, so we really appreciate a roadmap, especially in a grouping of 3.

What if I’m still really, really nervous? 

The best recovery I’ve ever seen on a botched answer to start an interview was when the candidate stopped, took a breath, and said “If I seem nervous, it’s because I’m just really excited about this job and potentially working for your company.” I loved how he turned his nerves into an opportunity to reset and focus on the positive. It’s also nice to hear that someone really wants to work at your company because, believe it or not, recruiters get our hearts broken too!  Candidates end up turning our offers down so it’s nice to genuinely hear and assess excitement from candidates. Try using tactics that calm you down before a big exam and apply them to the interviewing world, but, if all else fails – just own up to the nerves and remember that we were in your shoes once!

In addition to these words of advice, use these other resources to help you prepare for your interview to get that job or internship offer:

Visit the Career Center’s website for more information about interviewing skills and tips.

By Alyssa Esber, E. & J. Gallo Winery, Sales Recruiting Manager, Northeast

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