Here are a few things that I discovered to be very helpful during my preparation for my co-op interview:
- Practice, practice, practice
I remember being incredibly nervous before my actual interview. One of the things that really helped calm my nerves was doing a “mock interview” with one of the Co-op Coordinators. A mock interview is meant to simulate the real one. Tricky questions such as: “tell me something negative about your last job” and “If we are opening a new store, tell my 5 methods you would apply to attract new customers in the opening day” were asked, followed by constructive feedback from my coordinator. This practice helped to keep my nervousness at bay and helped me feel more confident going into the actual interview. The questions asked during the real interview were practiced during the mock interview, making things much easier. I highly recommend practicing your interview skills with as many people as possible. It’s good to have a safe environment where you can gain confidence and receive feedback from others without any pressure.
- Prepare a list of answers to common interview questions
I prepared every single answer I wanted to give for fifty different commonly asked interview questions. After doing some research on how to properly answer them, I wrote down different answers and practiced them the night before. You don’t necessarily want to memorize responses but try to have a general strategy for commonly asked interview questions. This will allow you to explore different options and come up with the best answers beforehand.
- Do your homework
Research on the company’s mission, general information and what they do. Are they involved in social activities or causes? It’s very important to know what the position is about and what the company does in general. If the manager asked what you know about them (you are bound to be asked that question), you would know how to answer. It leaves a great first impression and shows your interests in the company and the position. You can never underestimate the importance of research. It’s the first and most important step.
- Be positive
When preparing for an interview and anticipating likely questions, plan to answer all questions positively. Even if they ask you about a bad situation, think about how you can talk about that positively. It is much better to talk about a glass being half full than half empty. It’s all about showing the employer that you have the capacity to look at things professionally and positively. Avoid saying negative things about former employers or coworkers, no matter how bad the situation may have been.
- Reflect on previous interviews
Keep a record of your interviews, how long they were, your impressions of the hiring manager, and perhaps most importantly, what questions were asked of you (especially the ones you felt you could have answered differently), and what answers you gave. Study these elements and your interview skills will improve. Review which areas you need to work on can help you become more confident at your next interview.