A guide to nailing the interview

The American River College Career and Pathways Support Service staff help students acquire good resume creation and interview skills to get hired for jobs. (photo courtesy of Laura Adams)

Getting hired for a job is an exciting, nerve-wracking part of life that everyone will go through at some point. Whether you’re a student looking for a part-time job, or you’re graduating and heading off into the workforce, going through the interview process is unavoidable.

As nerve-wracking as interviews can be, the more preparation you put in beforehand, the better and calmer you will feel during the interview, and the more likely you are to impress your possible employer, according to Mike Robinson, an American River College student personnel assistant.

Executing a good interview is not as simple as plugging numbers into an equation to get a certain end result, but is more so about using customized strategies during your interview to impress your possible employer.

According to Laura Adams, ARC student personnel assistant, the first step is to create a professional resume and fill out the job application without any errors. Most employers will not even consider you for employment if your application and resume are a mess.

Adams said employers pay close attention to detail. Professionalism is important to your employer and they expect to see a clean, precise application and resume.

“It’s highly competitive,” Adams said. “Employers will look for inconsistencies in formatting, fonts and grammar, so it’s important all your documents are in tip-top shape.”

Adams also said it’s important to be aware that in today’s job market, the customization of the resume is what every employer is looking for. Doing your research beforehand by checking the job description on the company’s website will help you find keywords to include in your resume that will stand out to your employer.

“What I’m finding is a lot of students don’t know how important keywords are,” Adams said. “You really need to speak to the job description in your resume. It’s the applicant’s responsibility to show their possible employer that they are the best candidate for the position.”

Once an employer calls you in for your first interview, don’t shy away from preparing right away. There are many actions you can take to prepare that will boost your confidence.

According to Robinson, before even turning in a resume and especially before going into the interview, it’s important to do your research. Robinson suggests knowing the company’s mission statement, checking its website and social media and being informed about any recent news involving them, as it will make you look like you care about the company you may end up working for.

Most importantly, Robinson said to know the employee attributes the employer is looking for and make those the highlight of your strengths.

It’s beneficial to present yourself authentically and show your true self, according to Robinson. Lying may impress your employer during the interview, but it’s not worth it in the long run. Share your genuine experiences and what you learned from them. Robinson suggests using your storytelling to sell yourself.

Robinson also said showing up late to the interview is a mistake that you can’t afford to make. Showing up 15 minutes early is professional and looks good to a future employer. It shows your reliability and promptness early on.

Remaining calm and keeping a clear head during the interview is important, especially if you struggle with nerves, according to Robinson. Open body language is a strong indicator that you are listening well and engaged in the conversation.

For those who struggle with nerves, Robinson suggests keeping your back straight, and breathing deeply from the diaphragm. He also said preparation is key.

“Being prepared will really help you. Generally people stumble on their words because they haven’t practiced saying their responses beforehand,” he said. “Think of questions you may be asked beforehand, and verbally practice what you’re going to say, almost like giving a speech.”

When it comes down to it, your future employer is just trying to get a better understanding of who you are and is hopeful that you will be the best candidate for the position. As the interviewee, it’s your job to prove them right and show the best version of yourself.

ARC Career and Pathways offers interview success and resume workshops starting in the fall semester. For more information and resources on resumes, interviewing, job preparation and event dates and times, visit www.arc.losrios.edu/Careers, or visit the Career and Pathways office in the Welcome and Support Center on campus.

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About the Author

Ariel Caspar
Ariel Caspar is a second semester student with the Current at American River College. This is her first semester serving as Managing Editor, as well as taking on other editorial positions. Caspar is a journalism major and plans to graduate from ARC with an associates degree in journalism and mass communication. She then plans to further her education at California State University, Sacramento to attain a bachelor’s degree.

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