Sometimes I feel unbearably awkward. I don’t hate people… I’m not even always bad with people. I do, however, have some pretty intense anxiety about new people and situations. I haven’t been able able to nail down a summer internship, to my personal embarrassment. Internships in the communications/writing fields are hard to come by and I’ve been going after difficult ones. I’ve had several interviews but haven’t been able to get past the interview process.
Though I don’t think that my failure is entirely based on my interviewing skills. Interviewing is, however, a struggle for me because it’s terrifying. There is so much pressure on every word and interaction, and I find it so difficult to show my skills in this one meeting. So, at the urging of my mother, I participated in a mock interview and I learned a couple of tips that I think will resonate with other awkward people out there.
1. MAKE IT PERSONAL. The people who are interviewing you want to know your skills, for sure, but they also want to get a sense of who you are. They’ve already seen your resume, so just repeating those things isn’t going to make you go above and beyond. I always thought that it was unprofessional to show my personality in an interview, but I personality is what makes so stick out. Perhaps I won’t launch into a speech on my undying love for Doctor Who, but adding a few details about what I like and dislike is probably ok.
2. BE PASSIONATE. Along with showing personality, another area I struggle with is conveying my passion. I once got a job because I cried in an interview. While I would never do that again, in that moment I was so struck by my desire to work at the Christian camp I’d attended since my childhood, that I was moved to tears. The person who hired me apparently insisted on it, because that person knew how passionate I was. There are few jobs that I will ever be quite as passionate about as that one, but no matter what I have a reason to be passionate about any job. It’s important to convey that passion to future employers. This passion puts you apart from the people who are just looking for stepping stones to get them to somewhere greater. Maybe the job your interviewing is just a stepping stone. Maybe it’s just a means of income. Find a reason to be passionate about that income and convey it. That makes you stand out.
3. DON’T PUT TOO MUCH PRESSURE ON IT. The person who did my mock interview has hired many people. She asked if I was nervous for this fake interview. I said yes. Later, she told me that I’d never get the job unless I stopped caring so much whether or not I got it. It’s a matter, she explained, of understanding that you may or may not get the job and either way it doesn’t matter. There will be other jobs and other interviews. This is apparently the secret to confidence. I am a worrier who has trouble taking pressure off of situations like these. But one internship will not make or break my future career. If I end up doing something else this summer, I can still advance my career. Few interviews are life and death.
4. ASK GOOD QUESTIONS. One of the parts of interviews that I struggle with the most is the part where they ask if I have any questions. My go to question is asking about daily tasks of the position, but sometimes that is already covered. My interviewer said 2-3 good questions is ideal. The best way to ask questions? Use your research. In this way you can show your interviewers that you know about their company and have been thinking about the position. Don’t ask about money or vacation days. Do ask about what you can do to help the company. Ask about the company. Asked based on what you know. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
5. BE CONFIDENT. Last but not least, with all of these steps, the last one is confidence. Walk into an interview with a sense that you are qualified for the job and you are entitled to this interview. I’m terrible at this one, but these tips should help build up confidence. I am good at what I do and I am well trained. My mock interviewer said she’d hire me if a real position existed. I’m on a losing streak thats near 8 or 9 and when I go into my next interview, Thursday, I’m going to struggle not to think about my 7 or 8 failures so far. These losses don’t mean that I’m not good or qualified. The same can be said for you, I’m sure. So build up your confidence and walk in with it.
One thought on “An Awkward Girl’s Guide to Interviewing”
If you think of interviewing as your job, and you keep in mind that writing is already the thing you are doing for free, that might help.