Top Job Interview Tips for Students
Finding a job can be challenging when you're young, especially when you are balancing classes, schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and your social life. It can be tricky even finding time to schedule interviews, so once you have an interview secured, it's important to make the best of it.
When you haven't had much practice interviewing, it can be hard to know what you'll need to do ahead of time in order to ace your interview.
Planning ahead and being prepared to interview on short notice is the best strategy.
It will be much less stressful than trying to get ready just before the interview, especially if you need to line up appropriate interview attire and juggle your schedule to get to the interview.
Here are 15 tips, written by Alison Doyle from The Balance Careers, to help you ace that interview.
15 Job Interview Tips for Students
1. Prepare for your interview by researching the employer and analysing the job requirements.
Prepare a list of the top five qualities, skills, and areas of knowledge or experiences that would best equip you to excel in the position. Think of an example of how you have demonstrated each skill in past jobs, volunteer roles, academic projects, or school activities. Be ready to sell yourself to the employer.
2. Be ready to articulate why the job and the tasks involved appeal to you.
If it is a career-oriented internship or job, be prepared to state how it is related to your career goals and/or your academic studies.
3. Practice interviewing with a counsellor from the career office, an adviser, or family member if you don't have much interviewing experience.
You can reach out to your school, college or university to ask if they have a careers service, and if they do, then you can check to see if they conduct mock interviews. That's a great way to prepare for the real thing. Also review common interview questions and answers, so you're comfortable responding to questions about your background and skills.
If you don't have anyone to practice with, then you can contact the Youth Advisory Board and we can do our best to help you prepare or contact you with someone who could.
4. Plan ahead when you schedule your interview.
When scheduling your interview, make sure you have enough time to get to and from your interview, if you have other commitments that day. If you're coming right from class, mention that to your interviewer. If necessary, ask your school, college or university, if you can leave a few minutes early in order to get to your interview on time.
5. Make sure you have the interviewer's contact information on hand.
Although it's important to give yourself enough travel time, in life, it is not unlikely to encounter unforeseen obstacles—maybe a class runs overtime, someone wants to talk to you, or the trains are delayed. If something beyond your control happens and you find that you're running late, it's good to have your interviewer's contact information on hand so you can notify him or her.
6. Dress appropriately for your interview, even if it means planning ahead.
If you are still a student, then you will know what smart attire means. Usually, that would be a shirt, tie, blazer and trousers. If you are going to an interview, you should dress the same way because you want to make sure that you look smart and professional, so that you can ace your interview. First impressions matter, and so does your choice of clothing. You can check out some interview style attire here.
Tip: It is a good idea to prepare your interview outfit the day before your interview, and lay it out in your room so that when you wake up the next day, you can save yourself from the extra stress.
7. Bring a copy of your CV and cover letter to the interview.
Bringing a print-out of your CV and cover letter is a great move. It doesn't hurt to have extra copies because you may be interviewing with more than one person. Bring a list of references to share with the interviewer upon request. Also, consider bringing a copy of your transcript as well if you're interviewing for an academic-related position and your grades are an asset.
8. Turn your phone on silent.
Even if you get away with texting in class, your interview isn't a place to sneak in a few texts. Also, if your phone is constantly beeping or ringing during your interview, it creates a very distracting environment and reflects poorly on you. So, make it a priority to turn your phone on silent and stow it away in your bag or pocket during your interview.
9. Don't walk in with your earphones in and your music playing.
Although you might be dying to catch the end of your favourite song, put your device away before you walk into your interview. You want the focus on to be on you as a prospective intern or employee, and not on any distractions.
10. Don't bring food to the interview.
Plan ahead and grab a snack before or after your interview, because it isn't professional to eat during your interview. This applies to drinks, too (except water, you can bring that)—even if you're running on two hours of sleep, finish (or throw out) your coffee before your interview.
11. Don't bring friends.
You should go to your interview alone, so don't bring your friends or your significant other. If your parents are around, don't bring them either. If someone gives you a ride to the interview site, have them wait in the car or go and grab a coffee.
12. Remember to be polite, professional, and attentive during your interview.
No matter how tired you may be, make an effort to greet your interviewer kindly, and be active and engaged during the interview process. Be outgoing and positive, even if you feel crappy. Sit up straight and make eye contact.
Tip: The best thing to do when meeting someone is giving them a firm handshake, asking how they are and introducing yourself. It is a great skill to be able to remember people's names, and one way you can improve your memory is whenever someone introduces themselves to you, you can repeat their name.
Mark: Hi, I am Mark, and I will be your interviewer for today.
You: Oh, Hi Mark, thank your for taking the time to interview me today.
13. Know your availability before you come to the interview if you are interviewing for a summer job/internship or just a job on the weekend.
Employers know that students have busy schedules, so it's important to have an idea of your availability, such as how many hours per week you can work, if you can work weekends, and if you will be available during the summer. You can write up when you're available before the interview, so you're not scrambling to remember during your interview.
14. Be upfront about your availability.
On a similar note, once you know when you can work, be honest with your employer. You don't want to end up taking on more hours than you can handle, inconveniencing both yourself and your employer. Be sure to be honest with your interviewer about when you can work, and if your availability isn't the right fit for the employer, it's better to know that as soon as possible so you can look for other positions.
15. Email a thank you note after the interview.
Although you should thank your interviewer in person for taking the time to interview you, it's a great idea to send a thank you email as well. In addition to being good manners, taking the time to follow up reiterates your interest in the position. Be sure to express your enthusiasm for the job if it is still an attractive opportunity and briefly summarise how it is a good fit.
For example, you might say, "I am so excited about the possibility of working as a publishing intern with your organization since it will tap my strong writing, editing, and organizational skills."
Key Takeaways TAKE TIME TO PREPARE: Spending time preparing for a job interview will make you a stronger candidate. BE ON TIME: It's important to be on time, or even a little early, for your job interviews. FOLLOW UP AFTER THE INTERVIEW: Follow up after the interview with a thank-you note or email message.
If you need some help with your next interview or your looking for employment opportunities, then check out our Opportunities section in the blog or get in touch with the Youth Advisory Board directly.