Want to Practice On Your Own? Got A Mirror? Got at Timer? Go!

   Student job seekers typically master basic interviewing with two weeks of regular daily practice. Many of your peers ignore this step, so with a small bit of effort you will shine! Sit down in a quiet space. Read each question out loud to yourself. Put on the timer and speak a clear three minute answer in complete sentences. Watch for repetitiveness and the "Um and Uh" syndrome.  Watch your delivery in your mirror. Correct any nervous ticks like running your hand through your hair, bouncing your leg, or tapping a pencil.  Create note cards of your best answers. Use a thoughtful selection of action verbs and meaningful adjectives that showcase your best characteristics. Choose these words purposely--they should having meaning to you so that you remember them. Keep editing for conciseness. Rehearse silently in your head whenever you have down time. Now take it to the next level and video your answers using your phone.  Practice eye contact and watch upward inflection. Do not speak in a weak or high pitched or whisper-y voice - lower vocal range sounds more confident. 15 to 30 minutes a day and in two weeks you will be well on your way to success. With practice, you will be able to deliver honest, thoughtful, personalized responses to the most common interview questions, such as: 

  • How would you describe yourself?
  • What's your biggest weakness?
  • What personal characteristics make you effective?
  • How would you describe your interpersonal skills?
  • How would you describe your ideal career?
  • How do you handle pressure?
  • In what type of environment do you thrive?
  • What role do you typically play in a group project?
  • What can you do for this company?
  • Why should we hire you (aka — how are you different from everyone else)?

Remember, your answers should feel crisp and clean - rambling is a buzz kill for your interviewer.  One great technique that you can use to gauge your interviewer's interest in your answers is to give your answer, then pause, then ask, "did that answer your question?" or, "I hope that gave you a sense of my (fill in blank)" or  "would you like to know more about that, I know you have a number of things to ask me, but I would be happy to elaborate?" Use this technique sparingly, it can get old, but this step keeps you from overdoing your answers and boring your interviewer. 

Additionally, you are likely to be asked several behaviorally based questions in your interview. They will want to know: how have you handled past situations at work? Use the classic 4-step STAR Technique to guarantee a succinct, detailed, appropriate answer:

  • Situation. Describe the situation. Paint a brief 2-3 sentence picture of where you were working and the challenge you faced.
  • Task. Describe why the issue was a problem - 3 sentences maximum. Don't ramble and NEVER blame your colleagues or boss.
  • Action. Use action verbs to show how you helped solve this issue. For each question, use 1-2 new adjectives that showcase your best characteristics. Example: "I'm resourceful so I took X action.  I am also collaborative so I involved my boss  (describe how)."
  • Results. Share what successful outcome happened and how this helped your boss or your employer. Quantify the result with numbers, facts and figures whenever you can.