Secrets of a Successful Co-op Interview

Secrets of a Successful Co-op Interview

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Interviews: one of the terrifying barriers blocking your path from a great job that your whole academic career has been working towards. In a perfect world, your cover letter and resume that you poured sleepless nights over to edit would be enough for an employer. I mean, it’s just cruel that an employer would make you create the ‘perfectly tailored’ piece of writing, only to make you interview as well (and some jobs require more than one!). Here are some key ideas to focus on when preparing for an interview:

1. Prepare Your Elevator Pitch

“Tell me about yourself” can be the most daunting, challenging beginning to an interview for any professional – in fact, it can even be the only question an interviewer asks. Prepare a three minute pitch using the PAWS (Profile, Academic, Work and Skills) formula to give a well-rounded overview of your life and experiences. Practice this until you can deliver your speech at the drop of a hat, and you’ll take all the pressure off the beginning of any interview.

 2. Appear Confident

In my opinion, an interview is all about confidence. However, don’t go to an interview wearing jeans and a t-shirt with super casual posture and the occasional “dude” when answering questions. An employer is looking for people who know they will make a difference in their company – that’s where your confidence must stem from. Don’t know if you will be able to do that? Of course you can! With a confident can-do attitude, I’m sure you’ll be able to figure out the rest later.

3. Overcome Nerves

If you’re a naturally shy and quiet person, overcoming nerves is easier said than done. This, like many things, takes practice. If you’re an introvert like I was, my best suggestion is to always put yourself in social conditions that you believe would make you ‘uncomfortable.’ This could range from attending a party full of strangers, or speaking with a cousin or family friend you’ve never met. Once you have the ability to go up to a random stranger in a social setting that makes you uncomfortable and introduce yourself and strike up a conversation (it could be as simple as a ‘how are you?’), then it only gets easier.  You are then accustomed to meeting new people of all different types, talking about yourself, and always coming up with new conversation topics or questions to ask the other person.

4. Research the Organization

If you truly want the position you’re applying for, you should know enough about the organization to demonstrate to your interviewer that you’re hungry for the job, and know you’d fit into the company seamlessly. I’m not saying you have to memorize every page on the company’s site word for word, but you need to be able to speak to the company’s strengths, and know enough about the way things work to be able to pitch yourself as a cog in the machine. Be up to date on the company’s news headlines and major developments to impress the socks off of your interviewer!

5. Dress to impress

Everyone knows to dress up for an interview, but some still miss the mark. My experience? You will never feel embarrassed for looking “too professional” in a job interview. It’s the first thing that tells an employer you’re serious about the job and can even boost your confidence when sitting down for your first questions. This means: no jeans, untucked shirts, sloppy or too tight clothing, short skirts, wild makeup or high heels – keep it simple, and classic.


Posted on February 14, 2014