How to ace an interview

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As students graduate from college and enter the workforce, they often have all the technical skills needed for a job; however, to stand out from everyone else in the interview, applicants need soft skills to stand out.

These are some tips professionals said will help anyone get a job after college:

Be honest about past experiences

This seems like an obvious tip; however, Jon Schmidt, an adjunct in business, said this is an important factor when companies determine whether or not to hire someone. If you’ve been let go from a past job, be honest about what happened.

“If you can talk more about what you learned from the experience [of being fired], you’ll be better off,” Schmidt said. “If interviewers ask why you were fired be honest. Say something like, ‘I didn’t meet their expectations, and I understand better now because of my experience.’”

Gina Gottfredson, a career coach at the Career Center, said if the company does a reference check, then it will find out you were fired, so you want to make sure the interviewer hears your side of the story.  

“Make sure you share what happened in a concise way, only sharing the facts and not your feelings or perceptions,” Gottfredson said. “It is better [the company] hears the truth from you than from someone else.”   

Stay calm if you make a mistake

If you are late, or if you mess up during your interview, that doesn’t mean you are automatically eliminated as a potential candidate. 

“Take one more minute to gather yourself and be calm and composed before walking into an interview,” Gottfredson said. “You are already late, so taking one more minute will not be as important as rushing in and acting stressed and unprofessional.”

Gottfredson said if your mind blanks during an interview, focus on what’s important to distract the hiring manager from your brain fart.       

Just admit you can’t remember the word or name you currently are stuck on, and then direct your idea back to why it’s important.

“When I was interviewing for my job my boss did a role play thing where she was the student, and I was the tutor,” said Cora Hamer, a senior dance major from St. George. “I totally blanked and had no idea what to say. I came out thinking I totally bombed it, but somehow I ended up getting the job.” 

 Hamer said her boss who interviewed her understood she might not have the skills to tutor yet, but she knew she would learn these skills when she was trained.

 Do your homework
Research the company you are interviewing for and know who you are talking with.

“You should also come in ready to ask questions, but appropriate questions that show you did your homework,” Schmidt said.

Talking about the company you are interviewing for shows you are truly interested in the job, and it shows you cared enough to put time into researching before your interview.   

Hamer said one of her interviewers sent her questions before the interview, so she’d be prepared beforehand. 

“It made me feel better knowing that I knew what I was going into,” Hamer said. “Then I knew what to study, and I didn’t blank out as much. Having the questions is helpful because then I’m not sitting there in the interview with a blank stare.”

Don’t ask about benefits or pay
 Immediately asking about what the company can do for you can be seen as unprofessional. Schmidt said if you are interviewing for a professional-level job, you should never ask about the benefits from the company or your potential pay.

“One of the things that drove me crazy when interviewing for an accountant, manager, or someone of that nature, is when they would ask about the benefits or how much the job paid,” Schmidt said. “My answer to those questions was usually something along the lines of ‘our benefits and pay are competitive with companies of our size in this industry.’”

Be the solution
If a company is hiring, it is looking for someone to fill a need. Presenting yourself as the missing puzzle piece the company needs to complete itself makes you desirable.

“A lot of people think the interview is about getting to know you, and that’s true to a certain degree, but if the individual being interviewed understands the organization has a need and is looking for someone to fill that need, they can become the solution,” Schmidt said.

After the interview, don’t dwell on things you thought went wrong. Learn from your experiences and use them to excel in future endeavors.