Monday, November 24, 2008

Tales from the Front: True Stories of Interviews Past

Interviews at Ida Noyes continue this week, and will be picking up again in early winter for internship interviews, so there's lots of students looking very sharp (and a little bit nervous) as they get ready to meet with potential employers. To help you prepare for your interviews, don't forget that CAPS has practice interviewers on staff who will conduct an interview with you and then provide feedback. In addition, CAPS staff members can go over possible interview questions with you, and the CAPS interviewing handout and interviewing webcast offer tips on how to prepare and what to expect. To schedule an appointment with a practice interviewer or a CAPS staff member, call (773) 702 - 7040.

Taking care of pre-interview jitters can be a little trickier, but in an attempt to add some levity to the situation, read on for true interview stories from the past. No matter what happens, your interview will surely go better than this:

"I was interviewing for a position with a really unique organization that was just getting off the ground. They were very grassroots and had a small staff, but they were growing quickly and had the potential to make a large impact on some current events and in the media. I had already gotten through a first round interview, and was all set to meet with the manager of the team I was hoping to join. First of all, even though I got to the interview 15 minutes early, I gave the receptionist at the office the wrong name for the person I was meeting, so I ended up waiting for nearly 30 minutes, before the person who was expecting me came out looking for his 3pm appointment. I don't know why, but by the time I got into the interview, I was so stressed and flustered, I could tell that it wasn't going well. I was rushing through my answers, and kept getting stuck on questions that I should have been able to answer (example: who do you want to work for this organization?). To make it worse, my interviewer was interrupted half way through our conversation to take an important call from the media. By the time we were finished, I was exhausted and unsure of how well I had done. As my interviewer said, 'It was very nice to meet you,' and extended his hand, I stood up too - and immediately toppled over to the side, grabbing the edge of his desk to keep myself from hitting the floor. I had been sitting with my legs crossed during the interview, and when I stood up, my right foot had fallen asleep and was completely numb. I had no choice but to stand up, shake the interviewers hand and walk to the door - limping, because I had no feeling in my foot. The interviewer didn't say anything, but I could swear he was looking at me strangely and didn't know what to think of me. I'm pretty sure my poor performance during the interview was what did me in, but after almost falling down too, I definitely didn't receive a final round interview."

There are a few lessons to be learned from this story:
1. Make sure you know who you are interviewing with and ask for the correct person when you arrive. If you are interviewing for an on-campus position, you check in on the second floor of Ida Noyes Hall, and from there your interviewer will come out and introduce him or herself.
2. Be sure you are prepared. As the individual in this story related, he or she couldn't answer questions that should have been fairly easy to respond to. Be sure you know enough about an organization to be able to articulate why you want to work there.
3. Stay calm. If you feel yourself getting flustered, or if you're speaking too quickly during an interview, take a deep breath and relax. It's better to wait for a few second in silence, while you collect your thoughts, than it is to blurt out the first answer that comes to mind.

As for falling or tripping during an interview - these things happen, and they are awkward. Our best advice if this happens to you - laugh it off and smile.

Do you have an interview horror story or interview victory story of your own? Post them here, along with tips you've used to prepare and do well in interviews in the past.

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