The Pre-Interview Pep-Talk You Never Knew You Needed

The Pre-Interview Pep-Talk You Never Knew You Needed

By: Ivy Choi | SFU French Cohort Student / Former Associate Classifier at Consumer Protection BC
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Hey you! Hi! I heard you’ve got an interview coming up for a fantastic co-op position. Congratulations, that’s awesome! Landing the interview is a big and the first step towards experiences that will help you throughout your working life.

You’ve researched the company and read up on articles and recent press releases. You’ve got the knowledge part down! But if you’re feeling a bit nervous prior to your interview, don’t worry – here are a few tips from yours truly, someone who is also often an anxious mess:

Avoid coffee: For some people, grabbing a coffee just seems like the thing to do, especially for all you bean connoisseurs out there. I am here to strongly advise against this. First of all, coffee is a diuretic – a fancy way of saying that it makes you want to urinate more often. Needless to say, it is not very helpful when you’re already feeling a bit jittery. Second of all, coffee breath is horrendous. I’d invest in a tongue cleaner if we’re going to go forth with drinking coffee. It’s very effective at quickly getting rid of some sticky breath-related situations and won’t spill in your bag like mouthwash. But if you’re okay with giving up coffee as your interview pre-game, why not treat yourself to a box of Altoids instead? I’ve almost always got mints on me. It’s a nice alternative to gum since you can quickly chew it up and swallow it if you’re suddenly called in. No need to scramble to find a garbage can to spit out your gum.

Do power poses: I cannot explain the science behind this – and many have said that there is no science behind power posing at all, that it is simply pseudoscience. However, I would still recommend striking a few poses to help you loosen up. For me, it was the sheer silliness of doing it that took my mind off the insane nerves I was experiencing. Often, I would arrive early to an interview and kill time by doing power poses in the bathroom or in my car. I particularly enjoyed propping one leg up on something and having my hands on my hips like I was the captain of a very important pirate ship. Yarr!

Be on time: Yes! No brainer! I know you got this! But also, I would not suggest going into the office right away if you’re the type of person who gets somewhere very early, like myself. Spending twenty or so minutes in the waiting area often made me feel uneasy. I just had to sit there, agonizing in silence, trying my best to seem professional and not play on my phone when I could very well be doing the aforementioned power poses in peace in a bathroom stall. As someone who has assisted with interviews, it can be a bit uncomfortable having someone wait around in the office for too long. You also want to avoid having the candidates run into each other, especially when the interviews involve testing. Many organizations will have interviews lined up back-to-back, so logistically, it can be awkward to have someone come in too early. Five to ten minutes is a good rule as it typically lands you in that buffer zone in the schedule. It is enough to prove that you are a punctual person without making others feel rushed.

Be yourself: Hey, this is definitely the most crucial part. I think that it is really important to be yourself. Don’t feel pressured to memorize and regurgitate the perfectly calculated “PAWS” formula introduction to explain yourself. An employer has likely been at it all day or all week, and if you sound too rehearsed and robotic, it might not leave a good impression or any impression at all. If you have the opportunity, show your personality so that the employer can see what type of person they’re potentially hiring. If you’re nervous and that’s just who you are and no number of tips can calm you down, embrace it. I think that people, including employers, can appreciate that because it shows you care enough to visibly fret over how the interview is going. Be you and it will most likely end up being in your favor!

Alright, I think you’re ready… No, I KNOW you’re ready. Breathe, don’t forget to breathe. But just remember this: the employer is very lucky to have such a talented and competent pool of candidates to choose from. Any organization looking to take on a co-op student receives piles and piles of applications, often from multiple institutions. And yours ended up in the right stack. I’d say the top of the stack! They are already investing some of their time, the most precious resource in the world, to meet you and get to know you. You know that they have invited you here for a good reason. You are more than worthy of their time. You’ve got things to bring to the table, you’re ready to learn, you’re qualified and you’re motivated. Go in there and shine!

….

Oh hey! So how did it go? Yeah? I’m sure you left an excellent impression on that future employer of yours. You know what time it is? Time to treat yourself! Pat yourself on the back, give yourself a round of applause, or both. Get that coffee that you wanted to get but didn’t because you read in this article that it is a diuretic. Grab an ice cream and pay extra for a waffle cone! Or if you’re like me, all that agonizing and worrying probably expended a lot of your energy and you just want to eat four IKEA kids’ meals. Either way, you’re done, you’ve got one down, and I know you nailed it! Take the time to reflect on how you did and what you could improve upon. It helped me a lot to write down a few notes. But then relax, let it go and appreciate the fact that you’ve gained more experience in interviewing and that you can check this one off the list.

Being your own worst critic is a saying that rings true for many people, including, and especially, myself. But I also remind myself that it often goes way better than we thought. Us hyper self-critical nervous types tend to review on repeat and in slow motion, all the things that we perceive as sub-optimal choices on our part. I’m here to tell you that it is okay to let go, what’s done is done, and I know that you gave it your all. Be proud of who you are, how you did, and don’t forget your worth! Best of luck to you!


Beyond the Article 

  • Connect with Ivy on LinkedIn
  • Take a look at these tips on how to figure out if a job posting is legitimate or not.
  • Here's a guide by Katya on how to research a prospective employer and what you should look for while doing so. 
Posted on August 07, 2018