7 tips for job interview success

Mint Artists Guild interviews dozens of youth every year for internships and summer jobs. We almost always can tell which candidates have prepared for the job interview – and who has not.

Job interviews can be stressful, especially for a job you really want. So it pays to prepare. With summer jobs open and graduation coming, it’s time to dig deep and prepare to impress. Here’s our advice:

Know the employer. Discover what’s happening at the company or nonprofit where you will interview. Follow their social media including their LinkedIn profile. Read their recent media releases and news articles. Some candidates even set Google Alerts on companies that really appeal to them but may take longer to land. If they are a sizable employer, check out their reviews on Glassdoor, Indeed or elsewhere.

Prepare a positive mindset. Smiles at the start and end of a job interview can be valuable, but do not smile constantly. That could make you look silly. And to take advantage of video calls requires a positive mindset, said  Andres Lares, managing partner at Shapiro Negotiations Institute . “To help this along, before a meeting, do an activity you enjoy such as going for a walk, listening to your favorite music” and more.  

Practice your answers. Before the interview, think about what you want to say. It helps to say out loud and jot down notes on your answers to typical interview questions, such as “why are you interested in this company?” Mint always asks: “Describe a time when you faced multiple deadlines, for school and personal, and how you handled it.” Review Indeed’s list of frequently asked interview questions. Then enlist a friend or family member to work with you on interview practice, especially tougher questions.

Bring the right materials. Print your resume and list of references long before you leave for the interview. Bring several copies along to hand to the interviewers. (Or send them immediately after an online interview.) Bring along examples of your art or designs. And if they are on your phone, place them in a special folder so you can pull them up instantly. You may also want to bring a bottle of water, breath mints and more, Job Hunt.org suggests.

Understand the role. Discover details on the organization’s website. Read the Mint Q&A on our summer jobs program before the interview. Review the job description and highlight key areas. Ask friends or sorority sisters or others who work there about the job, the department and its priorities and how it fits in the organization overall. (LinkedIn is an excellent way to find connections who work or worked at the organization.)

Relax and refresh yourself before your interview. Calm your nerves with time at a beach. Painting: Kyndall McMillian; © Mint Artists Guild 2021

Calm your nerves. Expect to feel jittery or afraid before an interview. This is normal for even experienced job-seekers. So come up with two or three approaches that work to relax and erase fears, whether you listen to music or an uplifting podcast or a call to your best friend for a pep talk just before the interview. The Muse gives a dozen good ways to tackle interview nerves. Some candidates interview for jobs they do not particularly want because they want to practice and reduce their nervousness.

Be ready to brag about yourself. This requires practice to strike the right tone and come up with your strengths. Create a list of awards you have won or recognition you have received – for your “brag book.” Measure your progress and increased productivity or calculate your successes selling Girl Scout cookies or signing up students for volunteer projects. Ask your teachers or mentors about your strengths – and take notes. Ask if you can use some of their comments in the interview. Then practice quoting them – and singing your own praises.

If you want more advice on acing the interview, read this detailed guide by Job Hunt and this Harvard Business Review piece on the role of stress, good and bad, in job interviews. And if you want to work for Mint this year, follow all this advice – and apply now by sending us your resume and two examples of your art.

© Vickie Elmer, 2022 for Mint Artists Guild. Photo: Christina WOCinTechChat / Unsplash