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Fake It Until You Make It: Interview Edition

Updated: Oct 14, 2019

New to interviewing? Uncomfortable talking about yourself? Both are widely common for lots of students. Here are some easy ways to build the confidence you need to approach your next interview.

Let Your Body Change Your Mind

Learning from the Ted talk by Amy Cuddy, body language says as much as your words. Practice for an interview using the power stance, and train your body to build your confidence and feel powerful. She explains that spending even as few as two minutes in the power stance can lead to hormonal changes in testosterone (rise) and cortisol (drop). This means you will feel more assertive, confident and comfortable. In practical ways, her advice is to change your body language before a job interview because it affects your presence in an interview and it helps candidates bring their true selves to the interview.

Be Ready to Share Stories that Demonstrate Success

Before your interview, it's helpful to recall the stories you can mention during your interview. One of the worst feelings is having nothing come to mind when an interviewer asks for a specific example and your mind goes blank. Combat this by being ready for behavioral based questions. These are questions like “Tell me about a time…” or “Could you give me an example of…”. Preparing stories from academic settings, work experience, volunteer roles or campus involvement in your mind will make it easier to recall the details when feeling nervous during an interview. Its easier to draw from your short term memory when you have recently reviewed the examples you want to share and have story details fresh in your mind.

Use the STAR method to organize your stories and the details .

Situation + Task Required + Your Actions Taken = Result

Behavior Based question examples:

  • Tell me about a time you worked with a team.

  • Give me an example of a time you had to solve a problem.

  • What experience do you have with communication?

  • Tell me about a time you failed or did not meet expectations.

  • Give me an example of a time you worked through a difficult situation.

  • Tell me about a time you had a leadership role.

  • What was your biggest accomplishment or success?

  • What was your favorite/most challenging class?

  • Tell me how you built a skill you listed on your resume.

  • Give me an example of a project/task you completed independently.

  • Tell me how you have helped others/ considered the needs of others.

  • Give me an example of an ethical decision you had to make.

  • Outline your communication style/professional communication techniques.

Talk About What You Have to Offer, Not Just Your Current Experiences

Remember you are still a student, you are not expected to have significant professional experience in your career field yet. But, you can show how you are prepared to grow your skills, apply your learning and step into your next role easily. Leverage what you have, which is often more than you think! Consider how your skills could transfer and prepare you for the next steps in your career.

In my recent __________ class, I have been working on a project in ____________. This work has prepared me to move to __________ tasks in this role for you.

Because I have been successful in ____________ roles, I also feel ready to accept new responsibilities in ____ and __________ with your company.

My skills in __________ are a good example of how I am able to learn quickly and apply new concepts. I feel confident I will be able to learn and grow in the same way with a position at your organization.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The best way to build your confidence with interviews is to gain experience with the process.

Build Your Confidence At Career Lab

It can be helpful to talk things out with Career Staff, which is exactly why we offer walk in hours during Career Lab, 10 am - 3 pm, Monday - Friday. We can help build your confidence by brainstorming the skills and experiences you can share with an employer. We can also help you review the Handshake Interview tile resource. Come in to get our advice for your next interview as a great way to feel more prepared before you meet an employer.

When in Doubt, Go For It

The best advice a career coach can offer is to simply be yourself in the interview. Trying to guess exactly what an interviewer is looking for is impossible, so there is no advantage to pretending to be anything you are not. So why not just be the best version of yourself? If the fit is off, it's in everyone’s best interest that you go separate ways. But, confidently being yourself (and using the advice above) is one of the ways you can truly impress.

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