As the years go on, I have noticed a steady decline in the ability of candidate students to conduct a successful interview. The ability to confidently sell yourself and provide a potential employer or professor a well-rounded view of your personality and professional qualities can really take you far in life. However, it seems this talent is an ever-declining one.
In recent years I have seen students do everything from freeze up with anxiety to act so casual I question their commitment or enthusiasm for the field at all. Common interview questions such as, "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" and "Why should a potential employer hire you?" or "What makes you a good fit for this position?" have left candidates speechless. Having the answers to these common questions stowed away for easy retrieval is almost essential for landing a position in today's professional education program or job market.
I have always reviewed Interview Skills with my MLS students. I feel very strongly of late that this may be a necessity for all professional education programs. In professional programs like MLS programs, instructors are preparing students to enter the workforce ready to contribute to the profession. However, if our students are unable to nail the interview, they may never get the chance, or find difficulty landing a job.
What are some initial pointers I have for interview preparation?
1. Research common interview questions. Take the time to carefully form your responses to these questions and memorize them. These will be your strong answers that you will not have to think about on the spot. There may be questions thrown at you that genuinely stump you. Save your brain power for those.
2. Research the position/company/school. Never interview for a position that you do not have a comfortable understanding as to what will be expected of you should you get it. Make sure your interviewer sees that you know what you are getting into and that you have thought about ways you can contribute to the position to make it your own.
3. Make an audio-recording of yourself saying answers to interview questions. This may sound silly, but you may not realize you have a habit of saying "um" every other word, or maybe you say "like" too much. You will always learn something by taking the time to listen to yourself talk.
4. Remain calm throughout your interview. Answer questions in complete sentences, making sure to cover the points of the question. Give enough detail to be personal and showcase your experience, but be careful to not digress or indulge too much personal information.
5. Remember, you are also interviewing the company/school to make sure this is a good fit for you. Be prepared to ask questions to learn everything you can about the position before making your decision.
I'd love to hear thoughts from other professionals out there who may have witnessed bad interview skills or good ones. What are some pointers you can give to new MLS graduates who will be starting their interviews in the Spring?