A Freshman Survival Guide to Interviews

“Dear Rosie, I’m a freshman. In interviews, they always ask me what experience I have in whatever subject they use, and I don’t have much experience. How do I answer those questions?”

Hi, CWIB reader!

First of all, that’s incredible that you’re getting interviews as a freshman. You’re already way ahead of the game! Secondly, it’s important to understand that if a recruiter has called you back for an interview, it means they have looked at your resume/application and liked what they saw. Interviews are nothing but a way for them to see how you’d fit in with their company’s atmosphere, and how you’d handle certain scenarios under pressure.

There are three types of interviews – case studies, behavioral, and technical. For a business position, interviews are most often behavioral. This means they’re testing to see how you react to their questions and come up with answers in a short amount of time. When it comes to the “experience” question, remember that they already know about your skills and past experiences based on your resume. It’s all about how you sell yourself – your attitude, your answer delivery, etc.

If you’re in a situation in which you feel like you don’t have the right skills for the company or position you’re interviewing for, an important thing to remember is to sell whatever you have. Talk about the classes you’ve taken, whether they’re in high school or college, as long as they’re relevant. For example, if it’s a technical position, talk about your experience with technology (such as coding classes) or using social media (which is something we all do…come on). If you’re a business major, you’ve probably taken ACIS 1504, a technical class that teaches basic Excel skills. Refer to that!

A piece of valuable advice I got from one of our panelists at Power Panel this year was to twist whatever you have into what the company is looking for. Were you a waitress in high school? Talk about customer service, people skills, and working under pressure. Have you babysat? Talk about responsibility, organization, patience, and dealing with difficult situations on the fly. Did you work in retail?  Working with people, following delegated tasks, and conducting shop operations are just a few examples of things you can discuss with the interviewer!

You can also talk about clubs (*ahem*, CWIB!) you’re involved in, past positions you’ve held, any projects/volunteering you’ve done, and discuss what you learned from these activities. Remember that you don’t always have to talk about your major in school – flaunt your extracurriculars!

Last but not least, remember to talk about your future plans. Talk about classes you’re going to take later, clubs you plan on joining, or any skills you intend to learn, like a new coding language or a certification you want to get. When a company takes interest in you for a position, they’re looking to make a long-term investment in hopes that you’ll one day join them as a full-time employee. Make sure they know what you have in store along the road!

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