posted November 11, 2014 7:04 AM by Gemma Doyle
I've had a few job interviews in the last couple of weeks, and I have another big one coming up soon (so cross your fingers for me, if you would), so it seems like I've been interview prepping for months now.
I've probably had a hundred or so interviews in my life, so I've got the general idea of them down pat, but every one is different, so there's always (for me) something to be nervous about. (Being so nervous in important interviews is definitely something I do, to the point where my mind goes blank. It's an issue.)
The main thing to remember is this: no one likes interviews. Not the interviewee, who is usually at least somewhat stressed and under pressure, and not the interviewer, who isn't under the same pressure but is still in the awkward position of having to ask questions of someone who is.
My worst interview ever was with a library in Massachusetts that quizzed me on Library of Congress call numbers and then made me to a skills test on a software I'd never used before (and that wasn't listed in the job ad.) It did not go well. In the middle of the interview I wanted to push over the table I was sitting at and run away. On the one hand, the whole experience was somewhat humiliating, but on the other hand: great cocktail party story. So not a total loss.
Most of them aren't that bad, of course, and thank goodness for that. Most places don't throw you intentional curve balls. The key to good interviewing, at least on the stuff I can control, is practice. I grab common interview questions from websites like this or this and actually write down my answers. (I find that writing them down longhand does help me remember them better than just practicing them in my head or even typing them out.) I read them over until I can remember them easily, and also try to think of certain situations that have really stood out in my past jobs, both good and bad: mistakes I've made or opportunities I've spotted, that I can use for the "Tell me about a time you..." questions you know are coming.
I also try to come up with 5-10 questions to ask the interviewer about the job or the organization, and write them down to bring with me. (I definitely don't trust my nerve-ridden Day of Interview Brain to remember them if I don't write them down.)
Once the interview is over I usually feel nothing but relief on my way home, but as soon as I close my eyes that night it becomes Here Is What I Should Have Said theater in my mind for the next two or three hours. Never fails. One thing I have learned not to ever do is schedule interviews on back-to-back days, because the HIWISHS theater doesn't usually let me get enough sleep to be overly-coherent the next day. (That lesson, like most of them, was learned the hard way.)
Let's just all hope that the job interview I have lined up for this week goes well and I'm offered the job - and that I'll have whole years before I even need to think about interviewing again.