Ace your Interview by Playing it Straight

Ace your Interview by Playing it Straight

HillSpring is here. For many of us, that means graduation, celebration and the terror of confronting the real world. Yes: unfortunately, it’s time to get prepared for those job and internship interviews.

The main difference between a job and an internship is that in a job the employer will pay you as little as is required by law, by which I mean minimum wage, whereas in an internship the employer will pay you as little as is required by law, by which I mean nothing.

Every employer is different, but there are general rules that will help you no matter the situation. Follow these tips and you’ll be OK:


Don’t say that you need a job.

If you let slip that you “need” or “want” the job, you’ve given away valuable leverage. The employer should want you, rather than the other way around. Always be willing to walk away if the offer isn’t good enough.

Of course, in the case of an internship, this doesn’t apply, since it’s already obvious that you’re desperate. You are going through a bunch of trouble in order to convince someone that they should allow you to work for them for free. You should offer to do anything the employer asks, including selling them your car.


Get the Cheetos and Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer stains out of your dress clothes before your interview.

Stories of your life as a slobby, poor student are funny and charming: actual, lapel-based proof is not.


Turn off embarrassing ringtones.

You will lose major points if your interviewer has to suffer, even for only a few seconds, the 8-bit funk version of ACDC’s “Back in Black” that serves as your ringtone. If you have the “Legend of Zelda” “puzzle-solved” ringtone, or anything relating to any “Super Mario” or “Sonic the Hedgehog” game, the interviewer will probably just call security.


Don’t bring up “Game of Thrones.”

You’ll end up making fun of the wrong house – you never know where your employer’s sympathies lie. Of course, if they can’t take a joke about House Lannister, you probably don’t want to work for them anyway.


Use the word “meta” whenever possible.

There’s been a lot of research into the value of so-called power words, words that are so powerful and mysterious they just exude a mysterious sense of power. “Meta” is the ultimate power word, because no matter what you think the word means, you’re always right. Why list skills in a résumé when you could list meta-skills in a meta-résumé for your meta-interview?


Have a professional online presence.

Be in control of your Facebook, Twitter and blogs; make sure employers can’t see what you don’t want them to see. Avoid off-color jokes and foul language. Also, delete those rowdy bar photos. Rowdy lounge photos are much more in vogue.


Save your résumé and cover letter until the last minute.

Employers are looking for people who can work under pressure, and what pressure is more intense than the grim knowledge that, come June, you’re $30,000 in the hole, and your B.A. in psychology won’t be any help? If you wait until the last minute to do your application materials, employers will know, and they will be appreciative.


Your other option is to scorn our corporate, profit-driven society and just try to live as a part-time sandal maker who contributes to community magazines and plays guitar for $10 a night every weekend. That’s fine – just don’t sell yourself short. You should be getting at least $12 a night, especially if you can sing and play at the same time.

If you do this, I have only two things to say to you: First, you’re probably a lazy, no-good, bleeding-heart artist-type who is soft on crime and wants to skate by without contributing to society; and second, call me, because I want in.


Views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of The Easterner.