So, you had one of your first job interviews and you can tell it did not go so well. That does not feel very good. Well, what can you do now?
One tactic is to beat yourself up about it until you never want to think about interviewing again. Another is to assume it was the interviewer’s fault that it did not go well. Unfortunately, you will likely interview again with people who have varying degrees of skill in interviewing. A better strategy would be to consider what you could have done differently and then begin preparing for your next interview. This preparation includes conducting your own research on interviewing techniques and strategies as well as practicing your responses.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein
I often hear from students and alumni that if they were just given the opportunity to interview, they would surely be able to impress the employer enough to score the job. That is possible, but it is more likely that you will not impress an employer without spending a good chunk of time preparing for the interview. No one is born already good at walking, talking, or driving. These all take practice. So why would you be good at interviewing without some practice?
Practice makes . . . better
Take as many opportunities as possible to practice interviewing, including opportunities through your college. Check to see if your career office offers mock interviewing sessions. These feedback-based opportunities are some of the best ways to get advice on your interviewing style. Also, feel free to apply for jobs and go to interviews even if you are not super-excited about the jobs they are hiring for. You do not want one of your first interviews to be with your dream company when you will likely be quite anxious about performing your best.
Friends and classmates
As a student, you probably have participated in study groups. Why not form a job interviewing study group? Every student is eventually going to need to interview with an employer, so you all have that in common. The first few study sessions can be used for sharing resources on interviewing advice and common interview questions. For the final study session, students can take turns conducting mock interviews for each other’s dream job with a target company. Having studied up on interviewing, you should all be able to provide each other with valuable feedback in a low-stress setting. Be sure to focus on non-verbal behaviors as well as the content of the answers when providing feedback. Does the interviewee keep touching his hair or does she say “like” or “umm” often? These are habits all interviewees will need to be careful of as they may be quite off-putting to the interviewer.
Why not me?
You can also follow up with the employer with whom you unsuccessfully interviewed. After receiving a rejection letter, contact the interviewer and ask for reasons why you were not chosen. If the employer is willing to provide this information, it could be quite valuable interviewing feedback. It can also be the hardest critique to hear and process, so be sure to remember that this is all part of your education and preparation for your future career.
Part of your education
You have invested many years of your life in education so that you will be able to have a successful career. Be sure to spend some extra time preparing for interviews. All the time you invest in preparation will make you that much more employable.
Lori Bielek is the Marketing and Technology Coordinator at University of Delaware’s (UD) Career Services Center where she advises students in the arts and sciences through all steps of their career development. You can connect with Lori through LinkedIn or her UD Career Services Twitter account (@UDcareers).