What are some basic interview tips?
After volunteering with Sociedad Latina‘s college mock interviews, I wanted to record a recap of the tips I shared. Whether it’s for the college admissions interview or just your first time job, these basic interview tips are the same. Everyone should know them.
- Remember to breathe.
- Remember to take your time.
- Remember to keep things conversational.
Being nervous is understandable. You haven’t had the exposure to this type of communication enough. But if you succumb to the pressure and overthink… your breathing is likely to be out of rhythm. In the worst case, you might be holding your breath.
Anytime you need a moment to think your response over, remember to take a breath.
Along those lines, be sure to take your time in your response. If you’re nervous, you’re probably dying to get the ordeal over with. And if you’re operating in that way, you’re probably speaking an a faster speed.
Again, catch your breath. But also speak calmly and deliberately. Speak with purpose. You’ll come off as more certain and confident with your answers.
Finally, remember to keep things conversational. Even though the purpose is to learn more about each other, the whole interview process can actually be very artificial and impersonal. Try to bring back the humanity. Speak like you’re a real human being, not someone who’s trying to answer a test.
“Actions speak louder than words.”
That’s a pretty well-known maxim. It’s right up there with “don’t spit in the wind” and “five dollar footlong” when it comes to familiarity.
For my non-native English speakers out there, that quote means that doing has more impact that speaking. But, I bring this up because there’s both an English and communication lesson in there.
The other day I was caught in traffic and running late to a client session. I texted him a heads up, and he replied back with:
I understood him, of course, and it’s a very easy fix: drive safe. In that correction we have good rule of thumb to follow. Focus more on the action (i.e. verbs) rather than the nouns.
Think about it conversationally:
- Have fun
- Be safe
- Enjoy the movie
- Have a good night
Too often, in the pursuit of trying to translate from one’s native language, there’s too much focus on finding the right descriptor or single word choice. Even if you find it, you’ll sound unnatural.
Here, you don’t need big vocabulary, and if need be you can always explain in more detail. That rings true in the professional world. When you have to talk about yourself in an interview, you can’t use fancy words to describe yourself. You’ll sound pompous and unrelatable. You can, however, simply state what you do:
- X I’m very organized. –> I put all my files in alphabetical/chronological order
- X I’m very creative. –> I prefer to make my own templates instead of…
- X I’m a good communicator. –> When I’m at a social, I try to talk to as many people as possible.
Use those verbs, mmkay?