One of the simplest, most effective tips for acing an interview is to go in expecting to win. But there’s also a big risk in overdoing it.
By Alex Braun
So your resume is ironclad, you’ve done your homework on the employer, and your new dress shoes are exuding a dominant shine. You’re ready for the world like Melvin Riley. You’re about to lay waste to this interview, right?
As Han Solo once said, “Don’t get too cocky, kid.”
Remember, humility is much more important in an internship than it is at a full-time job because internships, by their very definition, are requests to learn. After all, if you already knew all there was to know, you should have applied for a real job.
In my work, I get to hear a lot of horror stories from employers about their interns. (They will remain nameless, of course.) Initially, I’d expected that the majority of complaints would be about interns that were lazy, irresponsible or poorly dressed. While those tales do get told, they seemed to inspire way less ill will than interns who came in thinking they ran the place.
On the flip side, I’ve had some input into a few hiring decisions, and I can tell you that likeability goes a long way. Hirers have to walk out of an interview feeling that their candidate will get along with others, and having superior experience or talent won’t always protect you.
So how to you put on an air of confidence without being arrogant? Here are a few tips:
1. Be enthusiastic about your past accomplishments, but always emphasize the collaborations that made them possible.
2. Use the word “we” whenever you have the opportunity.
3. If the interviewer is impressed with something on your resume, say it’s something you’d like to build upon.
4. Don’t dodge the “greatest weakness” question. If you frame a strength as a weakness, the interviewer might puke on the spot. A good answer is “inexperience,” because it can’t negate what’s already on your resume. Experience is a relative term.
If you feel confident but stay polite and considerate during your interview, you’re entitled to as many Tiger Woods fist-pumps as you want when you walk out of that lobby. You’ll have put your strongest case forward.