Career Tips

Back to the Basics: Prepping for an Interview

By Jena Szatkowski

Hello Spartans!

Do you have an interview coming up in the near future?  If you do, I am sure that you are busy preparing.  If you don’t, you can still begin preparing today! 

Have you ever thought about preparing for an interview before actually securing an interview?  You may wonder why this would be even remotely helpful.  You may think that if you prepare too far in advance that you would forget what to say or what to ask.  Plus, how can you prepare for an interview if you do not even know who you have an interview with, right?  Wrong.

Entertain the idea of preparing for an interview far before you have an interview.  For example, I am a second year graduate student who will not begin officially interviewing for positions until the spring semester.  However, I have been preparing for my dream interviews since I started my current position working in career services a year and a half ago.  This kind of preparation does not have to be super time intensive.  I created a word document that I keep on my desktop called “Interviewing Stories”.  In this document, I try to add at least one story per week about a student that I helped, a positive teaching moment, a group project that I completed, etc.  These stories range from experiences that were positive to those that were challenging. 

You see, I interact with hundreds of students per week and am usually running from one thing to the next during my workday, so it can be very easy to forget.  This document allows me to easily reflect upon what I did well and what I could improve upon.  The document helps me remember and articulate stories and successes.   In interviewing, stories provide examples and give evidence in speaking to your skills and capabilities.  Without stories, you do not have anything to talk about in an interview, so why not help yourself out and write them down?  Of course not every daily experience is worth mentioning in an interview, but if you are anything like me, it can be easy to forget those small victories. 

Have you ever had an interview where you had no idea what to say for a certain question only to realize later there were multiple examples that you could have provided?  Same here.  It is my hope that after reading this blog post you will make your life easier and start preparing for an interview before you even have an interview. 

Crazy? Maybe. Or is it smart? I will be sure to let you know if I land that dream full-time job of my own.  For now, it is up to you to decide.

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Jena Szatkowski is a MSU alumna who is currently a graduate student at Indiana University studying Higher Education and Student Affairs.  Jena works in Career Services at IU teaching courses and advising undergraduate students.  This past summer Jena came back to MSU to work in Career Services and to give back to her fellow Spartans.

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