Why We Hate Interviews, and Five Steps to Hate Them Less

By Sean Donnelly, Communications committee member

Most college students are uncomfortable by the thought of having to interview. Why is it that when asked how our interview went, we think about all the mistakes we made interviewrather than what we did well?

The truth is that interviews are equivalent to a rigged SAT test. You have one chance to make or break your goals and it’s rigged because everything is relative. You could have one interview that is conversational and you connect well. The interviewer understands what it’s like to be on the other side of the table. Other times, you may have a stick-in-the-mud, expressionless and soul-sucking interviewer who is there to ruin your life.

The first step in any interview is that you need to be your best and most enthusiastic self for the duration of the interview. Selling yourself is not easy. The difference between apprehensive, confident and cocky can be vague.

So we all can agree that interviews are rough. Here are some tips to help with your next one.

Research – Bring up key points that will make you an attractive applicant to the employer. You can find this usually on a “Careers” or “Who We Are” page on the company website. Avoid trying to bring up every possible detail and key point you wanted to say. The interview will lose it’s conversational tone and will become a test of your own memorization skills. Remember, keep it conversational.

This Won’t Be the Last Time – Whether we want to admit it or not, we’ll probably be interviewing for different positions for the rest of our lives. According to a report done by Experience.com, 70 percent of Generation Y employees leave their first job within the first two years. Set some time aside to calm your nerves and relax. The odds are that this won’t be your last interview. Some day you might be on the other side of the table.

Coffee – This one might be hard for some people, but AVOID drinking coffee. Believe me, this is coming from an addict. Have your cup in the morning and stop there. I have made the mistake of chugging Starbucks right before an interview, expecting that it will turn myself into an enthusiastic, confident and focused interviewee. Instead, my palms were sweating, my hands couldn’t stop fidgeting, I spoke at a pace of 300 words per minute and had severe anxiety. Your adrenaline will be pumping. There’s no need for the extra caffeine boost.

The Interviewer – Contrary to popular belief, the interviewer is not a robot that wants to see you fail your interview. When you find a way to connect with the interviewer, everything becomes much easier. Maybe they were a Penn Stater, or they were born in the same hometown. Any type of small talk eases any tentativeness you will have during an interview. There is a reason you were selected for an interview in the first place. They want to see you do excel and impress them.

Experience – I had a phone interview this year for an internship that was 13 minutes long. I’ve had other interviews that have exceeded their time limits. There may come a day when we have interviews that go for several hours with representatives from different departments. The best way to prepare for any interview is to get as much experience as possible. You may interview five times and get rejected from every internship you apply for. Take a little bit from each interview as a reminder of where you need work. Realize your strengths and weaknesses and learn from them. In regards to experience through failure, six-time NBA champion and five-time MVP Michael Jordan said it best.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

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