Ace an interview: Tips for making a good impression

Large, scary spiders, failing an exam worth 75 percent of one’s total grade, and going for an interview are some of a college student’s worst fears.

With the help of some easy-to-do tips, going to an interview will soon become a fear of the past.

Sarah Zehr, assistant dean and director of engineering career services, said dressing professionally is one of the ways to ace an interview.

She suggested “dressing more formally than less.”

Zehr said men should wear suits and women should wear either a pant suit or a suit with a skirt.

“I would err on the side of conservative,” she said.

Tanisha King-Taylor, assistant director of student support services, agreed that students should dress in a professional atmosphere for an interview.

She said a general professional attire would work well for students, such as a button-down collared shirt and slacks for men.

King-Taylor said women should be cautious of wearing anything too high above the knee. Besides the professional attire, she added that speaking eloquently and being honest are crucial elements in an interview.

“Anything in a professional range would be appropriate,” King-Taylor said. “Confidence — I think that’s the key in an interview.”

Both Zehr and King-Taylor said to bring extra copies of your resume and a portfolio for an interview. While Zehr added that an interviewee should also bring a list of about three references and a license for security reasons for off-campus interviews, King-Taylor emphasized the importance of a portfolio.

“(A portfolio) shows a range of talents outside of academics,” King-Taylor said. “It’s anything additional you would like to show that’s not resume-worthy. (It’s all about) showing that you go out of the box to separate you from other applicants.”

Zehr said getting a good night’s sleep, being yourself and thinking about the questions before you blurt out the answer are some simple tips students can take with them to an interview.

“I encourage students to include examples when you can,” Zehr added.

“Just make sure you’re putting a positive spin on the answer, regardless of the question.”

Jessie Faus, sophomore in Media, said she is concerned about not knowing how to answer a question or getting a question that she was not expecting, but she stressed the importance of composure in an interview setting.

“I think it’s more about how you compose yourself rather than what you say,” Faus said.

Paul Osunero, freshmen in Engineering, said he thinks the most critical part of an interview is answering all of the questions asked by the interviewer the best you can.

“I think the most important part is to answer all the questions really clearly — make sure you answer them fully and make sure you avoid stuff that’s kind of bad,” Osunero said.

“To be honest, I try not to worry about anything at all. I just try to do my best.”

Being engaged in the interview and looking interested in the process is another simple check to remember. Zehr said sitting up straight gives off an impression of being interested.

“You want to make yourself look engaged. I would say you want to be on your game the whole time,” Zehr said.

“All the things you’re doing are being watched by people. I really think you need to be on guard.”

After walking out of an interview, one cannot always rely on his or her intuition about how the interview went, but there are other ways to tell if you made a good and lasting impression.

“I think if you feel like you connected with the person, it means you did well,” Zehr said.

“If you feel like you did a fair representation of yourself, you did well.”