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  • Writer's pictureChloe Sestero

Job Search 101: Your Guide to Interview Prep

For those of us trying to land a summer internship or job, recruiting season is well underway. As it progresses, it’s difficult not to look back and reflect on what you wish you’d known before you hit the ‘submit’ button on that first application. From first-time interviewees to graduates returning to the job market, there are seven simple ways to make your application stand out from the crowd.

1. Check Job Sites Frequently

It’s wise to seek job and internship opportunities on a near-constant basis. Companies open applications at different times throughout the year, and some are only open for just a week or two. Luckily, there are a few ways to make your job search worth the time. Our very own UW AMA newsletters share curated lists of internship applications weekly, and signing up is simple, just head to our contact page. Another campus resource is UW Handshake, which has thousands of job and internship opportunities, a platform for recruiters to seek applicants, and sends routine email notifications informing the recipient of new openings. Similarly, LinkedIn allows for you to enter keywords (e.g., ‘Marketing Intern’) to receive job alerts for every time a new application that matches your interest is posted. A great deal of time and labor searching for jobs can be saved by enabling push notification systems that automatically find opportunities that fit your unique interests.

2. Know the Company like You Already Work There

After the excitement settles that you’ve earned an interview, the best place to start preparation is on the company’s website. Recruiters spend a lot of time selling their company to candidates, and interviewees should be able to show that they understand their potential role and ask engaging questions that aren’t already answered on the firm’s site. Read the company’s mission statement and values to get insight and judge whether you’d be a good fit before the interview process starts. It’s also a good idea to check out employee reviews on Glassdoor or Indeed to understand the workplace culture.

3. Collect References Early

Think back to a class you took a few years back and try to remember who sat in the back left corner of the classroom. Were they loud? Quiet? Did they participate often? Not so much? It might be a bit difficult to remember. For professors or employers that haven’t heard from you since before anyone knew what “social distancing” is, it’s difficult to remember details about your performance, even if you were excellent. It’s a good idea to ask for letters of recommendation before you need them, and while your job performance is fresh in someone’s mind. This leads to letters of recommendation with concrete and vivid details, rather than generic descriptions that would fit any run-of-the-mill interviewee.

4. Build Awareness of Current Events

Though plenty of job candidates have the necessary qualifications, few apply their industry knowledge to current events during interviews. If you’re interviewing for an HR role, have a clear idea of the state of the job market. If you’re meeting with a financial firm, spend some time checking out what’s moving in the stock market. Interviewees that can apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to ideas with relevance in the current world come across as more competent.

5. Bulk Up Your Resume

Sometimes the most impressive parts of a resume are just words or short phrases. LinkedIn has online courses for mastering Microsoft Excel that range from beginner to expert, likewise, Google has workshops for Google Analytics for anyone seeking to learn more about web analytics. Small skills, certificates, and interests add up and show that you’re an eager learner.

6. Be an Effective Storyteller

Psychologist Jerome Bruner’s research on communication suggests that facts are 20 times more likely to be remembered when they’re told as part of a story. For better storytelling, use STAR answers: situation, task, action, result. First, paint a detailed picture of the context, then describe what task needed to be done, discuss in detail your actions regarding the situation, then finally, reflect on the outcome, what you learned, and how it reflects your abilities. Before an interview, think of specific, concrete, and concise stories that highlight your strengths in response to common questions like:

  • What’s a problem you’ve experienced in your last role, and how did you deal with it?

  • What are your greatest strengths? What do you consider to be your weaknesses?

  • What can you bring to the company?

7. Chill Out…Just a Little

It doesn’t take a genius to tell you that high stress usually equals low performance. Be professional, demonstrate your competencies, but also show your interviewer how you truly are as a team member. Don’t be afraid to emphasize your skills, passions, and goals. Take a deep big breath before your interview, and remember that it’s just another conversation.

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