An Interviewer’s Worst Nightmare
Published: Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 15:11
I’m the hottest mess ever.
I don’t own a hairbrush and I never have. My curly and frizzy knots thank me every time I run my fingers through them and my hands get stuck. I discovered what makeup was in college when I watched my friends apply foundation. I was dumbfounded. Still, I thought rocking my pimples would be a better look than putting foundation on my face and only wore makeup when I went out. I spent the majority of my life with uneven, chipped nails – yes, I’m a nail-biter at her finest.
As you may have gathered, I’m an interviewer’s worst nightmare.
Dr. Vivian Williams, director of internships in the communication department, saved me. I entered her office for the first time during the spring semester of my sophomore year, interested in finding a summer internship. I did not expect to leave her office that day with a totally new outlook on myself.
Since nothing about me says “business casual,” solely because I value comfort and bizarre outfits over beauty, Williams helped shape my business etiquette.
She mock interviewed me and gave me constructive criticism about things I didn’t even know an interviewer would think about. While there are many students at UB who probably know how to dress, act and prepare for an interview, I also know there are a bunch who don’t have the slightest clue as to what’s appropriate.
Further, creating a resume and cover letter may seem like common sense, but Williams tore apart my piece without any shame and left me with a slightly bruised ego and two sheets of paper that strongly listed my qualifications and credentials.
She listened to my likes and dislikes, looked at my unofficial transcript and emailed me a database of internships she believed were suitable for me. I searched through them all and found one that suited my needs: being the producer’s assistant at Channel 7’s AM Buffalo.
I recommend all communication majors take Williams’ internship course for credit at least once. If you don’t have room in your schedule, I suggest you at least meet with her for a mock interview or ask her for help with your resume and cover letter.
While some of you will take my advice, the majority of you will not. So below are a couple of things I learned from Dr. Williams.
1. Put your hair in a “sock bun.” It will make you look in charge and professional. It’s hard to describe exactly what a sock bun is, but check this website for some tutorials: squidoo.com/sock-bun.
2. Paint your nails a light color, two days before your interview. If you happen to be as inept as me and you tend to paint most of your finger during the process, you’ll need the 48 hours for the polish to wash off your finger. A light color is noticeable, but not too much so the interviewer’s attention won’t solely be on your hands. But if they happen to notice your nails they won’t consider your hands to be “horrendous,” as Williams described mine.
3. Take a deep breath before answering every question. When you take a deep breath, not only do you have a little bit more time to think of your answer, but you also sound more calm and confident. Speeding to answer a question makes you seem nervous and can make you speak quicker and fragmented.
4. Always come prepared with a question to ask your interviewer. The following two questions are good examples: “Can you please describe to me the atmosphere of this workplace?” or “What is the most valuable thing I can do for you to be successful at this internship?”
5. Dress professionally and pick your outfit ahead of time. (I know you’re thinking “duh,” but I waited until the last minute to try on my slacks only to have my roommates tell me they refuse to let me leave the house in them. Apparently, I looked like a fool. I had to then tear apart everybody’s closet to find something appropriate). Wear a blazer, slacks, and flats – make sure everything is your size, though.
6. Wear light makeup. Williams told me to go a little bit heavier on the foundation, so if your skin happens to be as blotchy as mine, light makeup might actually mean semi-dark makeup. Either way, don’t wear your darkest eye shadow and your new cool purple lipstick to an interview. Rock the silver or light pink eye shadow, a little bit of top eyeliner, mascara and some blush for a perfect look.
7. The majority of people say “yeah,” when asked questions. Williams called me out on that several times and told me to say “yes.” I was programmed to say “yes” when I actually got to my interview and realized how much more professional it sounded.
8. When making your resume, you have to think of the primacy-recency theory – the first and last thing is what employers will remember most. Place your education and GPA at the beginning (since we’re all students, that’s more important to an employer right now), and the internship or work you’ve done that is most related to the position you are applying for at the end.
The list of suggestions Williams gave me goes on forever. She even brought up my nonverbal body language and helped me fix it. She said when I scratched my chest I reminded her of a monkey. Her constructive criticism took me a very long way, and I hope everyone out there takes advantage of her services.
I listened to her advice, went to my interview and got the internship position I was applying for on the spot. Without Williams, I don’t think I would have been as successful.