Whether you’re a senior looking for a first “real” job or a freshman hoping to snag a first-time internship, every student will someday have to go through the process of applying for a job, and those are the words an applicant is hoping to hear.

Applying for a job can be a stressful process, and with the recent economic downturn it is becoming even more important to put your best foot forward in the application process. This is where the all-important personal interview comes in.

Employers can use personal interviews as a way to gauge a prospective candidate’s personality and disposition, and to find out if he or she is actually interested in the job, not just applying because their parents thought it sounded impressive. But the interview is also a place where you can shine, your opportunity to charm your potential employer and prove why you’re the best choice out there.

The way to do this is to tackle the interview like an exam ? study up on the subject and be as prepared as possible. Learn about the company you’re applying to and the type of work it does. Everyone likes to be flattered, and asking a few questions that demonstrate your knowledge during the interview will let your employer know that you care about this interview and about their work.

Have a friend pretend to be the interviewer, and do a mock run a few days before the real interview. He or she can let you know if you fidget too much, or say “like, ummmm, like” before you answer every question. This will let you know in advance the things you need to work on in your personal presentation. Interview tips provided by the Career Center recommend that you “express confidence through your body language.” A confident smile and firm handshake is much more appealing than a hunched up ball of nerves. Even if you don’t feel confident, act it.

Make sure to play up your strong points and don’t mention any weaknesses. The interviewer won’t know you withdrew from four classes your junior year unless you tell them.

Focus on your positive attributes, and if anything negative about you does come up in the interview, put a positive spin on it as best you can without lying. If you spent a year off from school doing nothing but working at McDonald’s and playing video games, tell your employer that the time allowed your to “reevaluate your priorities” and made you aware of how important a good job and a good education really is.

After the interview, thank the interviewer as you are leaving, and send a thank you note a few days later. This will help you stand out in the interviewer’s mind when the time comes to make the final decision.

In the end, an employer will pick the candidate that he or she thinks is best suited for the job. Perfecting the interview can help you become that person, all it takes is a little forethought and a firm handshake.

DeSantis can be reached at kdesantis@campustimes.org.



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