Excelling at Interviewing (When You Don’t Have Much Experience)

Interviewing is a nerve-wracking endeavor for many of us. The stakes are high and it’s easy to feel like you’re under intense scrutiny because, well, you are. You have a limited amount of time to make a great impression and convey why exactly you’d be an excellent hire. If you mess up, you may not get another chance.

There’s good news, though: interviewing is a skill that you can learn. While there probably are people out there who are naturally great at interviewing, most of us could benefit from honing our skills. Here’s how to do that.

The best way to get better at interviewing is to interview! Practice does lead to improvement. It isn’t enough to just go on dozens of interviews hoping to get better, though. That’s a waste of time. When you do interview, take time afterwards to debrief, either by yourself or with someone you trust to understand the interviewing process. Jot down the questions you were asked; interview questions tend to follow patterns. Focus on any questions that tripped you up and work on improving your answers for next time.

If you know someone who regularly interviews people, see if they’ll talk through what it’s like to interview job candidates. You might get some insight into the process, and you can also ask them questions you have about interviewing.

Don’t want to gamble away a potential job opportunity by using the interview as practice? I don’t blame you! Consider seeking out a mock interview. Your career services center might offer them; we do here at Calhoun. That acquaintance you spoke with about the interviewing process? They might be willing to ask a few short questions and give you feedback. Finally, you could ask a friend or relative–just make sure they know what they’re doing. It can be helpful to video the mock interview. Sometimes you catch things you wouldn’t otherwise have noticed if you watch it later.

You may always be a little nervous about interviewing. I know I am. By putting some effort into preparing for your interview, you’ll both feel better and give a better performance when that excellent job is on the line. Take heart–it really does get easier.