An interview is all about “selling yourself” to the interviewers. You need to be able to convince them that you are their right choice and that you fit the bill for whatever you are trying to secure your place in. You may be attending a medical school interview, an overseas-values-in-action programme interview, or it may be an interview to be selected to be an emcee. It really doesn’t matter what kind of interview it is; they all require the same set of skills that need to be exhibited.
You might have heard from your tuition teachers about how important it is to learn skills that books can never teach. Interview skills are of one of such that students need to master in order to secure a spot in college or a job in future.
Wondering what are the skills required? Well, here’s a comprehensive guide to mastering your interviews!
THE FIRST IMPRESSION
The first impression has a huge impact and it acts as a deciding factor when you are being compared against fellow interviewees. From the moment you walk in, interviewers will look at your facial expression, your dressing, your gait, the way you greet, and the way you maintain eye-contact with everyone.
The thought of a panel of strangers watching you like a hawk can be intimidating; however, that’s part of the deal. So, if you can accept that reality, you would not lose the grip on your confidence. Take your time to practice your walk, your greeting, your pleasant smile and eye-contact with your friends or family members prior to the interview.
With sufficient practice, these simple things will come naturally on the actual day. And, be sure to pick out the appropriate wardrobe for the interview as well!
DO YOUR RESEARCH
You need to be thorough about the organisation/school/programme (basically whatever you are interviewing for), in order to gauge their expectations. You need to learn about what they are looking for in the selection process and this will give you the idea of how you should present yourself.
The facts about yourself may be the same, but the way you present them in a medical school interview would have to be starkly different from that of an overseas community service programme interview. You need to couch your words in a way that convinces interviewers that you are the perfect candidate that they have been looking for.
THE FAMOUS QUESTION
The most common, open-ended, vague and yet an effective question to know about a person goes like this: “Tell me about yourself?”. It seems like an easy question but it’s also a tricky one. The purpose of this question is to know about the person behind the stellar grades and accomplishments. The admissions committee or the interview panel wants to know about how you are as a human being.
When asked this question, you need to feel free to talk about the values you hold true to your heart. You need to talk about your strengths and weaknesses, and the occasions that helped you realise them. You also can mention the efforts you take to try to change your weaknesses into strengths and acknowledge that you also make mistakes as a human being.
When you show your interviewers that you genuinely work hard to make improvements, that you are open-minded enough to listen to others’ perspectives and look at situations from different angles before making decisions, they’re left with no other choice but to accept you.
Chances are, every interview starts off with common questions like,
- Tell me about yourself?
- What’s your motivation behind applying for this programme?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What is your favourite book?
- Why should we choose you over other candidates?
It will be helpful for you to prepare comprehensive answers for these questions beforehand. This does not mean that you memorise the answers and repeat verbatim at the interview. It just means that you will already have a solid response in your mind which does not require you to think on your toes during the interview.
Make sure that your responses are not over-complicated, but still remain thorough and phrased in a succinct manner. When talking about your strengths, you shouldn’t come across as being arrogant, and neither should you tell a sob story when explaining your weaknesses. Your responses should show that you are tranquil, which will make you look confident and convincing!