Practice Makes Prepared

I will never forget my interview for my first internship two years ago. It was 8am on a Friday morning, my palms were sweaty, and I had just gotten sick in a dormitory bathroom. In addition to nausea and feeling faint, I also used to get this weird nervous rash on my neck (I discovered this in a skype interview last year). This was a pretty typical reaction for almost all of my interviewing experiences in the past. Who knew two years later I would be working on the Practice Interview Team at the Center for Career Development, coaching students on how to calm their nerves and feel ready to nail that oh-so-scary meeting with a potential employer.

Anxiety and nervousness are common sentiments when it comes down to interviews. Are they going to like me? Am I going to say the right things? What happens if I mess up? There’s good news for folks like us – practicing helps immensely. Below I’ve outlined some tips and tricks that have helped me manage my preparation and nerves so that you can feel ready to rock that interview.

  • STUDY. Preparing for the interview is a guaranteed way to kick those nerves to the curb. You wouldn’t walk into an exam without cracking the book, would you? You should spend a good amount of time learning about the company, industry, and position and how you would fit in. What are some current events in your program or industry that you should know about? “Studying” for the interview will give you a great sense of confidence. Get more information on how to prepare for an interview.
  • SPEAK. I can’t emphasize this one enough. It’s one thing to generate ideas in your head about what you’ll say, but it’s another to actually say them out loud. I like to practice in my car, in front of the mirror, in the shower, or with family and friends – wherever! Talking out loud will help you eliminate nervous filler words (um, you know!) and make you feel more confident with your answers. Did you know you can practice a full-length interview with your webcam?
  • PRACTICE WITH FEEDBACK. There is a reason we have sports practices and music rehearsals. There is no better practice for an interview than actually doing an interview. Sign up for a practice interview with the Center for Career Development and we will specifically tailor questions to your desired company, position, or industry. After the mock interview, we will go into a fully customized feedback session to help you identify areas of both improvement and strengths. You’ll leave our office fully equipped with the skills, knowledge, and confidence you’ll need to nail the interview.
  • RELAX. Do some self-exploration and find ways to help yourself calm down. Try smiling in front of a mirror and visualizing yourself answering questions with ease. Play your favorite feel-good music on the drive to your interview. Cook yourself a wonderful meal the night before. Share horrible pun jokes via text with your best friend the morning of. It doesn’t matter what you choose, but finding a way to practice in-the-moment relaxation before a big interview will make you feel that much better walking through the door.

We often hear the common saying “Practice makes perfect”, but nobody is perfect. I still get nervous when it comes to interviews, but I’ve learned over time how to organize myself, speak out loud, and calm my nerves so that I can go into the interview with a positive attitude. If we can frame the interview not as a place to fail but as an opportunity to succeed, we can reframe our “practice makes perfect” mantra into “practice makes prepared. Good luck!

To schedule a practice interview with our department, visit https://career.uconn.edu/interviewing/ or call our office at (860) 486-3013.