By the time students get to college, most have experienced what an academic interview is like. The interviewer asks about your scholastic interests, the particular reason why the school or program is exciting to you, and other questions relating to academics. However, once you get to college, you will be moving on to more professional interviews for internships and potential job opportunities. Many of the same rules apply to these settings, but there are even more particulars to be on the lookout for in order to succeed in this setting. Here are a few to keep in mind.
1. GET INVESTED. First and foremost, make sure you care about the position you are interviewing for. This should be a prerequisite for any situation, but a lot of times students don’t care that much and it shows in the lack of passion they have for the position. This is a major problem and something you definitely want to avoid in order to be successful.
In relation to this, make sure you know why exactly you want the position and some of the specific characteristics of the job. While a lot of times the interviews will start out with basic questions that help the interviewer get to know you, the ultimate goal of any of these interviews is to see if you a good fit for the position. In order to prove you are the right person for the job, it is crucial to demonstrate both your ability and understanding of the task at hand. Referencing specific responsibilities and job functions will allow you to show the interviewer that you mean business.
2. SHOW YOU FIT THE ROLE. It’s important to present a picture of yourself that shows why you are a good candidate for the job. Every company wants to get to know you, but you don’t have to tell them everything about yourself. This doesn’t mean lie at all, but include pertinent information and experiences that you have had that relate to the job opening. This is your chance to tell a story about yourself, so make sure it is one the interviewer will want to read from start to finish.
3. FIND SOMETHING IN COMMON. Finally, the most important thing you should do in this interview (and any interview in general) is connect with the person asking you questions. Multiple studies show that the more someone likes you, the greater chance you have of getting the job. No two interviews are the same in terms of connecting, so your best bet is to feel the situation out.
Does your interviewer seem like the type of person who would appreciate if you ask deep, insightful questions about the position? Or more direct, specific questions about the tasks you will perform? Sometimes, it is a mix and other times they like talking about their own experiences. Whatever the case may be, it is a good idea to make sure you do your best to truly connect with the interviewer. Ultimately they are either making the decision on whether or not you get hired, or they are offering a recommendation that will play a role in the process.
If you are able to check off most of these boxes as you prepare and experience your first professional interview, than you will be in a great position to succeed and earn the position you covet. Best of luck in your interviews!
Jake Davidson is a Mork Family Scholar at USC and enjoys writing for the school paper as well as participating in various clubs. He has been tutoring privately since the age of 15 and is incredibly excited to help students succeed on the SAT.