How to interview your way into everyone’s hearts

Matthew Wallace | Staff Writer

Hey there, hi there! Instead of food, today I will give you some advice on how to improve your chances when you are job hunting in college. This will not be an exhaustive list and is designed to supplement the skills you learn from the Career Center and your own experience. Being able to make yourself stand out and memorable in the best way is an adventure in professionalism and personality. You want your interviewer to see you as a buttoned up stiff like the thousands of applicants they probably see each year, but you also want to make them believe you’ll bring something worthwhile to the office water cooler and holiday party. Buckle up while I take you on a journey to help you become the drip brewed, sustainably sourced, exhilarating cup of coffee in a world of stale, burnt, office coffee from the pot that no one has ever washed completely.

1. Get some color in your life

Professional dress is dull. Usually dark colored suits with ties that are probably the same color. Throw some pop into your professional wear: A nice sweater still checks that professional box while adding tons of versatility. Also, getting fun with your ties, socks, shoes and even your blazer are ways to stand out. Testing out that line between just enough and too much takes experimentation, but the rewards have the potential to be massive.

2. Doing your research

What’s worse than having little knowledge about a company? Having surface level knowledge. Anyone can take in a company’s website and spout softball questions to make it seem like you know about the organization. But really delving into how a company works and asking detailed questions displays your attitude towards work. A self-starter who thinks in the big picture is much more valuable than a cookie-cutter degree holder from an upper tier college who has little personality and even less in unique value. This is your career, so take time to put in real, quality, work beforehand.

3. Practice, practice, practice

Have all of your information and great clothes? Fantastic. Know the answers to the common questions? Awesome. Now go practice it. Practice to your friends, practice to advisors, practice to animals, practice in the shower, practice everywhere. Getting what you have to say down is good, but enough practice will make it natural and sincere. You can always tell when someone is doing a bad job acting, but when its great acting you are drawn in more than you can imagine. Get your interviewer to want to hear more from you and get them invested in your success. Get them on your side and you’re golden.

4. Interviewing for the job you want, not the one they are offering

Don’t just dress for the job you want, interview for the job you want. This doesn’t mean that they’ll offer you the CEO position within the hour, but it will display your passion and ambition. Everyone says that they are a self-starter, but they aren’t. It takes a resilience that is not common, and a stubborn nature to never let failure be the end. Letting these things come out will separate you from the pack and make you a value to the company.

5. Run through your interview the day before

When the day of the interview comes, you will run through whatever preparation you have. Some block off the entire day to prepare, some have a routine to get them hyped and many others just walk in underprepared. Whatever your process, be sure to run through it completely a few days before to work out the kinks. This is all about making you comfortable and confident for the stressful nature of finding a job while in college.

6. Ask yourself why you want this job

Why are you applying? Is it for the money? Does it match with your passions in life? Is it a stepping stone to the place you actually want to be? Whatever your reason, know it inside and out. You don’t need to tell anyone else about your motives, but knowing why you are investing your time and energy in their hiring process will keep everything in perspective. Know when to double down and know when to cut ties.

7. GET EXCITED!

Above all, be excited and happy! This could be the start of you doing world-changing work, or the place you meet your spouse or the place that allows you to pay off those Wash. U. student loans. This is the next major step in your life. Be sure enjoy the moment and celebrate the fact that someone is thinking about hiring you despite how unenjoyable college may have been.

For most people, college is temporary. It is necessary to transition into the next part of life. No matter your major, school or extracurricular activities, you will need to talk to someone in order to find your starting place out of school, even to find an internship that will lead to that job. Being prepared for whatever is thrown your way can be the difference between a job and a career. You’ve suffered through years of college for the chance at making a life that you want to live—don’t shortchange yourself by not doing everything possible to get it in the beginning.