Job searches are hard. Whether you’re looking for something parttime while you’re in school, or already scouring the net for your first “real” job post-college, it’s not an easy task. After personally spending hours on Indeed, LinkedIn, and virtually every job board there is and getting nothing in response it’s easy to get discouraged.
But that’s only the first part.
Then comes the point where you actually hear back.
First, of course, comes the elation.
They actually want to interview you. Finally! Employment is just around the corner!
Then it really hits you.
Oh. Oh no.
Now don’t panic. As long as you didn’t lie and say you were a brain surgeon on your resume or something like that, you don’t have anything to worry about.
First: Research The Company
The last thing you want is to seem like someone who doesn’t really know what the company (or the position you’ve applied for, for that matter) actually does. I know of a story of a guy who applied for a job, and very nearly got it… everything was going well until it became very clear in the interview that he had mixed up the company he had applied for with another one with a similar name. Whoops.
You don’t have to know the whole history of the company or anything like that, but it never hurts to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.
Second: Think Through The Interview
Chances are they’re going to ask you questions like, “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” through they may phrase it differently: “What areas do you think you have room to grow in?” It’s a good idea to have an answer for this, and one that isn’t just one that you think will sound good, like “I’m too much of a perfectionist” (though that may be true). This may be your very first job, and that’s intimidating, but there are ways to figure out these answers. What are some of the most stressful moments you’ve had, ones in which you had to take charge (demonstrating leadership abilities), had to overcome adversity (demonstrating perseverance) or had to learn new skills (demonstrating that you’re a hard worker and a quick study)? As you think through experiences you’ve had, these qualities will come to you.
Third: Be Interview Ready
It’s a good idea to try and find out, as much as you can, what kind of work environment you will be entering into, to know if business casual or business formal is more the speed you should be aiming for. However, even if you know for a fact that your future dream job is full of people who wear t-shirts and jeans or even pajamas to work every day, that doesn’t mean that that’s acceptable for an interview. …unless they tell you otherwise, show up looking smart. You don’t have to wear a gown or a tux or anything, but be aware that a first impression does make a difference. You can get back to comfortable clothes once you’re hired.
Finally: Remind Yourself To Relax
I understand that its easy to get scared about the concept of having to prove yourself in an interview, even with a resume that got you this far anyway. Why did you apply to this job? (It’s okay if it’s just because you needed the money, believe me, I understand, but try and find something, anything to remind yourself of why you want this job, and not any of the others you applied to.) As you begin to meditate on some of the things you like about this potential job, and especially why you think you would be a good fit there, how it could help you get to where you want to be and how you could help them, you’ll begin to relax. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll also begin to get excited about this more than scared. Allow yourself to get excited about this. It may not be the be-all-end-all or it may feel like the first step towards your dream job…either way, take a deep breath, steady yourself, and go in there knowing you got this.