As high schoolers, you are most likely going to have to go through an interview at some point, whether that be for a leadership position in a club, a job, or maybe even for college. Interviews can be extremely nerve-wracking because you never know exactly what you’re going to be asked or how you should ideally respond. Coming from someone who has gone through their fair share of interviews, I’m gonna break down some tips you can use to succeed in your next interview!
Depending on the formality of your interview this will change slightly, but for the most part, you will need to dress at least semi-formally. If you have an interview for something school-related you could pass by with clothing like this: slacks and a polo shirt, a casual dress, a nice shirt, and slacks, etc. But for interviews with colleges or businesses you should dress up more formally. For example a button-up and trousers, a blouse and pencil skirt, a nice dress, etc. The formality of your clothing should match the formality of the interview.
BE ON TIME
Being punctual is very important for interviews. If you can, try to arrive at your interview at least fifteen minutes early so that you have time to prepare yourself or so that you can allow for delays you may encounter. Arriving early shows the interviewer that you are not only punctual but that you care a lot about whatever it is you are interviewing for.
Prepare for the “Tell me about yourself” question
The most common interview question is “Tell me about yourself”. It is also the most broad question. You have the ability to say anything about yourself that you would like, so if you don’t have an answer, or a general idea, prepared, then you are just going to say whatever comes to your mind first. Take some time before your interview to think about the most important aspects of your life. Whether that be your strongest personality traits, your favorite hobbies, your extracurricular activities, etc. This question is what they use to gauge your personality, so you need to show off yourself in the best light, which is why it helps to prepare beforehand.
Be confident in your skills and experiences
A lot of times in interviews they will ask a question such as, “What do you think is your best leadership trait?”, “What are your greatest strengths?”, or “What makes you unique to other applicants?”. When answering these types of questions you need to exhibit confidence in yourself. Instead of saying “I think I am…”, try just saying “I am”. Getting rid of “I think” will show your interviewer that you are self-assured, and have solid views of yourself.
This is an important idea, not just in interviews, but in life as well. When you first meet someone, you can tell a lot about them by just their body language. For interviews you want to hold yourself with confidence, and you need to reflect that with your body language. Try not to fiddle with your hair or clothing too much, sit up straight, look the interviewer(s) in the eyes when speaking, and make sure to sit appropriately regarding whatever clothing you have on.
Be polite to the interviewer(s)
When you first begin the interview make sure to thank your interviewer and ask them the common courtesy questions (ex. “How are you doing?” or “How has your day been?”). At the end of your interview you can thank the interviewer for their time and wish them a good rest of the day/weekend/etc. And to be extra polite you can follow up your interview with a letter or email thanking the interviewer again for their time. All of these things may seem very similar, but being polite is extremely important for your image in the eyes of the interviewer, so it can’t hurt to be extra thankful.
Take your time to answer questions
When in an interview people’s minds tend to be all over the place. So when the interviewer asks a question, they respond with the first thing that they think of, which may not always be the best answer. After the interviewer asks the question you can take a few seconds to organize your thoughts and plan out your answer a little bit. The interviewer won’t care that you take some time to answer, as long as it isn’t excessively long. You’d rather have a better answer, but take longer, than a quick, mediocre answer.
When you talk make sure that you speak slowly and clearly. You want your interviewer to be able to hear everything that you say to avoid any misinterpretations. If you speak slowly and clearly it will give the impression that you are calm, cool, and collected. This helps especially when your interviewer is older than you because it shows that you are mature. But to be fair, everyone loves an eloquent speaker.
Don’t kiss up to the interviewer
Although it may seem like you should compliment the interviewer or the company/university you are interviewing for, it may hurt you in the end. You don’t want to make it seem like you are trying to kiss up to the interviewer to get a better chance of getting the job, the leadership position, etc. Just act naturally. If you give out some praise along the way that is totally fine, but don’t go overboard.
Even though it may not seem like it, your interviewer does not want you to fail. They are doing their job, not trying to prevent you from achieving your goal. No one enjoys watching someone else fail, especially when it comes to something as important as an interview. So just relax, take some deep breaths, and remember that your interviewer is rooting you too.
I hope these tips can help you prepare for your next interview, and I wish you all luck! And lastly, my final piece of advice is as simple as it is cheesy. BE YOURSELF!