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There’s a First Time for Everything… Don’t Make it Your Last

Ah, high school. Whatever clique or group you belong (or belonged) to, one thing’s for certain: high school marks the beginning of an era of interviews. It might be the more informal type that doesn’t fit the mold, like ‘interviewing’ to hang out with a group. Or perhaps it’s more serious, like interviewing for Orchestra officer or for a first job.

Regardless, starting in high school, the interviews ramp up in number and importance. But there’s a dilemma here: many young adults enter high school with little to no interview experience. So what’s the issue? In an age where interviews are so abundant, it seems like there should be a likewise abundance of interview coaching sessions and opportunities to hone your interview skills, right? Not quite.

In today’s day and age, there is a concerning lack of attention directed towards preparing young adults for the working world. Fortunately, here are 3 critical points you need to know to help your interview go more smoothly.

1. Read everything you can about the person you’re interviewing with.

You wouldn’t give a presentation in class without preparing first and making sure you know what to say, right? Likewise with interviews. You don’t have to know what year they graduated from college, or other tangential information, but it is important to be knowledgeable of your interviewer and what they do. Nothing’s more off-putting than speaking with someone who doesn’t know who you are. In fact, this can be a bigger pitfall than it appears: rapper NF, in his song “No Excuses”, explicitly tells listeners, “I just did an interview, the guy was pretty clueless. You don’t have to know the album names or all my music, but at least try to find out who you’re in the room with.” Yikes.

2. A person is hiring you. Not a company.

Somewhere along the line, somebody has taken note of your interest in what they do. While you may be working to further the mission of their company, the company isn’t hiring you. A person is. But fear not, this is to your advantage. With a person, you can find ways to connect and personalize your interaction. After you’ve read everything you can about your interviewer, you can work shared characteristics into your answers (like an affinity for a certain Marvel character) and spark that connection in real-time during the interview. Boom. You’ve just made yourself memorable.

3. Get excited: Shift your nervous energy into excitement to improve performance.

You know that nervous energy you get right before something important? It could be in anticipation of a piano performance or an exam. Regardless, you know the feeling. That jittery rush of adrenaline and anxiety that sends your overthinking into overdrive. Imagine if there was a way to harness that energy to focus and improve performance. According to Dr. Alison Wood Brooks, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School, there is. In a study, “Get Excited: Reappraising Pre-Performance Anxiety as Excitement”, Brooks analyzes how instructing participants to tell themselves “to be excited” combats anxiety through altering performance in singing, public speaking, and math problems. Regardless of the activity engaged in by participants, those who associated the activity with excitement performed better overall than their counterparts who were told to “calm down.” Concluding that “anxiety is a negative, aversive emotion that harms performance,” Brooks’ study reveals that “excitement is a positive, pleasant emotion that can improve performance.” So what does this mean for you? The next time you’re preparing for an interview and you’re eyeing the stakes, consider funnelling your nervous energy into excitement. You might be surprised.

To recap:
1. Read everything you can about the person you’re interviewing with. Don’t be memorable for the wrong reasons.
2. A person is hiring you, not a company. Know who they are, what they do, and why they do what they do.
3. Get excited: Shift your nervous energy into excitement to improve performance.

Still a little unsure? It’s pepelwerk’s mission to guide the next generation of talent through the working world. With recruitment experts, HR specialists, and career coaches at pepelwerk’s disposal, download the app and connect with pepelwerk’s team to help you navigate the future of work, today.