A while back, one of my readers suggested that I show more professional work outfits here on the blog. Since many of you are still in college or recent grads, I thought that was a wonderful idea! Additionally, I saw it was the perfect chance to share some of my own career tips. By no means am I a seasoned professional in the workforce. I didn’t exactly interview to become an assistant fashion stylist, and the Neiman’s studio where I’ve been working lately isn’t exactly a traditional corporate office. In fact, it’s actually a warehouse!
Nevertheless, I had my fair share of in-person interviews during college. My junior year, I interviewed for the biggest scholarship award in retail, The National Retail Federation Foundation’s Next Generation Scholarship, in front of top CEO’s and executives. A year later, while seeking an internship for the summer of 2016, I interviewed for Anthropologie’s styling internship in Philadelphia. Around the same time, I also interviewed for a Product Development internship at Macy’s headquarters in New York.
I landed the internship (my dream internship!) after interviewing at Anthropologie, so I feel somewhat qualified to share my interview tips with you. I’m here to help you guys, and I want you to score that dream internship or dream job, too! Today I’m talking about in-person interviews specifically, because they pose challenges that Skype or phone interviews do not. For example, coordinating a complete interview outfit, traveling somewhere new (and risking getting lost/being late!), and interviewing in an unfamiliar setting.
Despite the nerve-wracking nature of in-person interviews, I’ve adopted a foolproof routine that instantly makes them more bearable. I’ve followed this pattern for literally every in-person interview I’ve done. And I 100% believe it’s the reason I’ve walked away from interviewers thinking, “I nailed it,” rather than, “I blew it,” in most cases. Funny thing is, these tips are things no one ever talks about, yet they have a huge impact on your attitude during interviews. Keep in mind, communication is 93% non-verbal, and the non-verbal component is made up of 55% body language and 38% tone of voice. Beyond knowing what to SAY, ensuring that you feel comfortable, confident, and relaxed during interviews is so important. And these steps will help you do that!
Keep reading for 3 steps to project confidence during in-person interviews.
1. Arrive 15-20 minutes early.
In my own Type-A head, if I’m not early to an in-person interview, I’m late! I always try to arrive at check-in 15-20 minutes early for interviews. Doing so safeguards me against all the issues that could potentially arise from traveling to an unfamiliar office. For example, if I’m driving there for the first time, I will inevitably miss an exit or make a wrong turn, and the GPS will have to reroute me. There may also be traffic congestion. Or sometimes it’s even difficult to figure out exactly where to park, and how/where to pay for parking. After that, you have to account for time spent walking to the building, figuring out which floor to go to (maybe), riding an elevator (maybe), and finally checking in.
Ideally I like to check-in and have 10 minutes to spare before the actual interview. So, aiming to arrive at the location 15-20 minutes early allows me to account for any (or all) of these little obstacles. There’s nothing worse than arriving even one minute late to an interview. But, if you ask me, arriving exactly on time, out of breath and sweating because you barely made it isn’t much better! The #1 skill needed to nail an interview is preparedness in all aspects. That starts with giving yourself adequate time to arrive and greet the receptionist in a calm, collected, and confident manner. Remember, some interviewers will ask the receptionist how the interviewee treated them on their way in, just to gauge their character. Make sure the receptionist is the first person you impress! 🙂
2. Go to the restroom.
Once I’ve checked in, I generally find my way to the restroom. Reason #1 is, I literally have to pee. Either because I’m slightly nervous, or from drinking coffee during my drive, I always gotta go! Not to mention, doing an interview with a full bladder is destined to end horribly!
This sounds weird to articulate in writing. But, reason #2 is, going to the ladies’ room allows me to theoretically mark my territory. When interviewing at an unfamiliar office space, it’s easy to feel like you’re a “visitor,” or like you’re intruding into someone else’s home. That’s a problem though, because it’s important to portray how you fit the company culture during interviews. You’re literally trying to convince the interviewer that you belong there. By going to the restroom before your interview, you can “settle in” and get accustomed to your surroundings. You’ll subconsciously get into the character of a real employee, using the same restroom that they do! I know it’s odd, but it’s seriously such a helpful thing to do relieve anxiety, build confidence, and feel 100% yourself! 😉
3. Look in the mirror and say, “You got this.”
The last step to project confidence during in-person interviews has to do with your mental-state. You are your own worst enemy during interviews. So, unless you conquer negative thoughts and self-doubt, you risk screwing up the interview before it’s even started. The way I do this is after washing my hands in the restroom, I look myself face-to-face in the mirror and say, “You got this.” Literally, I’m not kidding.. That’s what I do! Taking a quick, quiet moment for yourself, and getting “in the zone” makes all the difference. It doesn’t even have to be outloud. You can think it internally if you want. What matters is that you look at yourself, and give yourself the positivity needed to absolutely kill it! You must believe in yourself to exude confidence during an in-person interview. If not, you have to fake it till you make it, and this is how. I’m telling you, as soon as you say these words to yourself, something will trigger inside you, and you’ll be motivated to talk the talk, and walk the walk during your interview. You’ll come out of the restroom feeling like the interview has already started. So as soon as the interviewer comes to get you from the lobby, you’ll be ON and ready to rock!
What do you think of my 3 steps to project confidence during in-person interviews? I’d love to read some of your tricks and advice in the comments!
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Banana Republic Factory Store Shirt (similar), Express Pants (similar), Vince Camuto Shoes, Square Scarf from a flea market (similar), Michael Kors Bag (similar affordable option), Target Belt (similar), Earrings (similar), Ring (similar set), Padfolio
Photography: Fox & Pine