How I’ve Learned to Prepare for Interviews

Cheat sheets for interviews

When I was in high school I had to take two full semesters of speech class—once between freshman and sophomore year and another as a junior or senior. I was lucky enough to have a fantastic kumu who I took both classes from, but I was an absolute failure at speech. In my junior year speech class, we had to attend mock job interviews with kumu Lima’s former colleagues and some current friend volunteers. Although I changed into my cutest outfit (any opportunity to wear clothes other than our hideous and boring uniforms), I absolutely bombed the interview. I answered my interviewer’s questions with short responses, didn’t provide many examples of success, and of course I hadn’t prepared questions at the end. Luckily I somehow improved in both the class and general public speaking with today’s Zoom and Teams meetings helping my skills even more.

I recently was lucky enough to participate in job interviews (I won’t offer any more details yet!) and I wanted to provide some helpful tips for anyone else who previously feared public speaking/interviews/job processes, because if I can do them, certainly anyone else can! My interviews took place over Zoom and Teams, so my first order of business was to prepare mini cheat sheets of responses for common job questions. I used to go into any type of interview unprepared without concrete actions, examples, and statistics of my work and its impact (even partially in my interview for my current job), so it was imperative that I actually formulate my thoughts properly this time. I researched the company, the questions they usually ask in interviews, and other typical questions and I drafted mini responses on post-it notes. I taped the post-its to my computer right below my camera so when I was asked one of the questions, I immediately had a handy guide I could reference in case I drew a blank. In order to develop my answers, I watched dozens of interview prep videos, read article after article about proper responses, and I studied my resume/cover letter/job description to ensure I fit in as many relevant keywords and phrases as possible. I highlighted what I believed to be the most important parts of the job description in my answers and I quoted parts of the company’s website and mission statement when asked why I wanted to work there. Doing lots of research into the company, their direction, and the position itself provided me with ammunition I could rely on when I felt anxious during the call.

My teenage self may have been extraordinarily spontaneous in her classes and future goals, but I’ve tried to rely more on preparation and being proactive as I continue through my professional career.