Interview Experience and Advice

Stephanie MimsYou enter college with one goal in mind, get a job. This simple task can sometimes feel like the biggest challenge of your life when senior year hits. You worked hard to keep your GPA up, participated in the right college clubs, and attended all the career fairs. You finally have your first interview with a company in your top five list and you have no idea what to expect.  This might not be exactly how your experience went, but it is similar to what I went through in college this year.

While my first interview was for an internship rather than a full time job, I wanted to share the experience as they are very similar. It all started with a phone interview, which I had not prepared for. I thought it they would be asking me basic questions about myself such as my activities, what college I attend, and other easy questions I knew the answers to. Little did I know they would ask me much broader questions about my greatest achievement, biggest weakness, and others that take some practice to nail under pressure. Thankfully, I ended up with a second interview even with my unprepared answers.

The next step was an in person interview in their office. It happened to be snowing that day, so the only people who showed up were the three who had to interview me. These three girls were all part of the actuarial analyst team that I would be working for, so I knew I had to make a great impression. I quickly realized this was a personality interview to see if I would fit in with the other members of the team. The resume, grades, and qualifications helped get me in the door, but the only thing that would help me stay is my personality. They asked me questions about my previous work experience I had on my resume such as what I did with the company, projects I worked on, what computer skills I had, how I stayed organized, my work habits, and how I study for actuarial exams. These questions are hard to answer in a high stress situation, so I recommend rehearsing them before going into the interview. Most employers tend to ask these same general questions.

A lot of people don’t recommend bringing notecards to an interview since it can look unprofessional. However, I get so nervous that I need a little something to remind me of what I want to say. For this interview, I brought notecards with me and no one questioned my strategy. I didn’t read straight from the index card, I simply glanced down to remind myself of what I wanted to say. Before the interview, I researched top interview questions and wrote down my answers just in case I needed them. This is the best approach to beating nerves during an interview. I ended up getting the internship and having the best experience of my life that summer. When it comes to interviews, it’s all about trying to make them laugh, show your true personality, and preparing beforehand. If you know the answers to the basic questions and have rehearsed what you will say, interviewing will become a piece of cake.