How To Nail A Job Interview: Inside Info

Throughout my high school career the pressure to become employed in the near future was high. The endless advice, resume building, and career fairs had lead up to this one moment in my life: My Very First Job Interview.

I’ve received a lot of good advice about how to apply for a job and this would be the very first time that I had used any of it. I’m going to share the tips that actually worked and would have landed me the job, had I not been moving to Oregon in a few months.

Firm Handshake: This is going to sound a little self explanatory but there are people out there who don’t know how to firmly shake a hand. To borrow a phrase from Patrick Star, “Firmly grasp it”. That might be a pre-job interview mantra to live by. Avoid having sweaty palms and be sure to have washed your hands or used hand-sanitizer prior to your interview.

Build a good resume: Building a resume is by far the second most daunting step in the job finding process (most daunting step is the actual interview). That single piece of paper (yes, keep it to one sheet) is your foot in the door, it tells your potential employer who you are and what you can do. As a recent high school graduate with no formal work experience, I found it difficult to fill up my resume. It was actually a lot easier than I had thought. I put down all my volunteer experience instead of work experience, and I listed a skills profile. A skills profile is list, usually in bulleted format, that describes valuable traits and unique characteristics that you have to offer to prospective employers. The interviewer actually told me that I had one of the most impressive resumes he had ever seen (appearance wise) and asked me if I had done it myself. What he doesn’t know was that I actually selected an attractive, modern, and minimalistic template on Microsoft Word. He even joked that I should make his resume for him. He told me that he had found my skills profile impressive. I used adjectives like “innovative”, “enthusiastic”, and I think his favorite was “uncompromising work-ethic”. If you can’t think of any good adjectives to describe yourself, then you can just look some up. If you need a quick way to build a resume there are also free online resume builders or you can build one on Chegg and apply to internships on the same site. Another good tip is to print your resume on “resume paper”, which is heavier and thicker than generic printer paper.

Dress to Impress: Yes, this is a real thing. Even if you are applying for a minimum wage job, you always dress in your most professional attire. Whilst standing in line with the other candidates, I felt over-dressed in my blouse, pencil skirt, and heels. The man to my right was wearing a bright orange button-up, the man to my left was wearing a flannel and jeans, and the man way off to the end was wearing World Cup memorabilia. My out-of-place feeling had paid off when the interviewer had complimented my outfit and said that “it shows that you are serious about landing a job and that you are a respectable candidate for the position”. When dressing for an interview, females should wear a presentable blouse or button-up that is not too sheer, cropped, or over-the-top. Paired with slacks that are slim-fit (not too baggy), or a skirt that is an inch above or below the knee. Appropriate footwear should be worn, like solid-colored flats, or 1 inch heels. Males should wear a button-up paired with a solid-colored tie (incredibly important that it is solid-colored and not your dad’s wacky “Bug’s Bunny playing golf” tie), suit jacket is optional, paired with slacks, a leather buckle belt, and appropriate shoes (not sneakers). If you don’t have any of these things, you can find them at my favorite thrifty, price-conscience store, H&M. H&M has a wide variety of cheap, professional attire for both men and women, with price ranges between $20-$60 for any item. Aside from how you dress, it is also important to be well groomed. Women should keep make-up to a clean minimum (meaning no heavy smokey-eye with bright red lips and fake lashes), and both men and women are advised not to wear any  perfume or cologne (some scents don’t appeal to other people, and others may be allergic), but that is not advice to not wear deodorant.

Be Prepared: Be prepared for anything! I brought multiple pens and copies of my resume just in case there were multiple interviewers (in a folder; one guy brought his all rolled up). One of the oddest pieces of advice given to me was to bring about four pens. That crossed my mind as absurd until I noticed that my interviewer needed a pen and I let him keep mine. Also be prepared for all sorts of questions. Questions like, “How would you describe this position?”, meaning what does being a (insert job you are applying for here) to you? Well that question caught me by surprise but luckily I had read the job description a couple times to know the answer. Some of the most common questions are about how you would handle certain situations with customers. Those are a little bit more tricky and require some legitimate brain power.

All in all, I had a good job interview experience. Although they weren’t looking to hire employees solely for the summer, I took advantage of the opportunity to ask the interviewer questions. I asked “How would you rate my interview and what stood out to you?”. I’m not saying that you should ask that question at the end of an interview, but seeing how I wasn’t going to get hired, I at least wanted to know what I had done right. He had given me a through evaluation and a 10/10 rating for my appearance, preparedness, and resume.


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