For most people, interviews are not the highlight of their day. This is not surprising, considering the idea of sitting down across the table from somebody and explaining why you are the right individual for the job isn’t exactly easy. Many people get anxious, uncomfortable, and lost in the moment even after extensive practice and preparation. Outside of internships, there’s also a job on the line, which only adds to the pressure. However, the interview process doesn’t have to be your worst enemy. In between all the formalities and required steps, for the vast majority of interview situations it all really boils down to one thing: showing the interviewer he or she wouldn’t regret being stuck for a day in the same room as you. Outside of certain limited contexts, by snatching the interview it has already been established that you are capable of handling the position. What matters at the interview stage is your personality. You must show the interviewer you are not a social experiment gone wrong. Three things are key to accomplishing this task: conversation, confidence, and humor.
Many people approach interviews as if they were preparing to be deposed. Worse, interrogated. This is not the right approach to interviewing, and often results in dings. What really needs to happen during the interview is a conversation. Yes, a simple conversation. Analogize the situation to a first date. Presumably, it has been established that you and the interviewer are physically attracted to each other because you applied to the position and your credentials earned you an interview. Now, it is time to see whether the two of you will click on a social level. This means you need to hold a friendly back and forth, and it just so happens that that back and forth is about your value to your potential employer, with the interviewer acting as an agent. Your credentials may be strong on paper, but the interview is there because it’s time to convince the interviewer of two things. First, that you can speak about your experiences coherently and relate them to the position. Second, that you are interested in the employer. The latter is accomplished by asking the interviewer about his or her experiences and the employer generally. This is no different than a coffee date, where your date is trying to get to know you by asking questions and you are reciprocating to satisfy your own curiosity. In both situations, throughout the conversation you are ultimately trying to demonstrate value. An underestimated part of that value is your ability to be composed and hold a conversation. In turn, holding a conversation provides the platform for displaying both confidence and humor, the keys to interview success.
There’s nothing more important than confidence. Being anxious, uncomfortable, or uptight during the interview is not going to get you far when another candidate puts a smile on his or her face and speaks with authority. Confidence instinctively attracts others. If you’re not very confident, or you have trouble demonstrating you are confident, you need to practice. There’s really nothing more to it. If you’re introverted, you have to practice speaking in front of the mirror or to your friends and family members. Make the uncomfortable feel comfortable, otherwise by doing what you’ve been doing you’ll get what you’ve always been getting. Just like in a first date scenario, confidence demonstrates value. It demonstrates you are the prize. By being confident during your conversation, you subconsciously establish to the interviewer that that employer needs you more than you need them. It erases any hint of desperation, that polar opposite trait that will ding you if it’s even remotely sensed during the interview. Even if in the back of your mind you know this interview is your sole job prospect, nobody needs to know that but you. It’s irrelevant. Walk in there confident and ready to hold a conversation with a smile on your face, this alone will do wonders to increase your chances of success.
A supplement to confidence, humor packs the decisive second punch that can seal the deal. Nobody wants to work with someone who is a debbie downer and can’t make the workplace at least semi-enjoyable. Humor is the key to showing you’re a relaxed individual and makes the interviewer feel they’ll get along with you. This does not mean you can stroll into the interview, relax yourself, and start cracking jokes like you and the interviewer are high school buddies. However, not getting defensive at the interviewer’s potential light jabs at you is a start. Laugh when the situation calls for it, and depending on the interviewer, you can throw in a light joke here and there throughout the conversation if the context allows it. The point is to not be uptight because this is an “interview” and you cannot stray from your preconceived notions of what should happen. Just roll with the punches.
This advice may be particularly important for 2L OCI, but it is fundamental material for any interview situation. Again, analogize it to a first date. The same attractive traits are required to seal the deal, namely confidence and humor. Confidence signals you are not a desperate pushover, and humor demonstrates you’re fun to be around. All this should occur as you converse with the interviewer, engaging in a back and forth that allows you to demonstrate these qualities and show interest in the potential employer. Of course, moderation is key. There’s a fine line between unwanted arrogance and confidence, and immaturity and humor. Practice can ensure you’re on the right side of that equation. Ultimately, think common sense: your date won’t want you if you’ve got nothing to offer and create too many awkward silences throughout the experience. Keep it simple, know your resume and your potential employer inside out, and go in there ready to leave the interviewer looking forward to hanging out with you.