Practice Makes Perfect: Students Can Master Interview Skills

By Diane Ferber, executive director at The Collaborative Center, part of Greenwich Education Group

Before a critical interview appears on their horizons, students can learn and practice interviewing skills without pressure. Students who know how to greet adults, make eye contact, project confidence, and respond well to questions about themselves will have an easier time with middle school teachers, college guidance counselors, and even summer jobs.

Interview proficiency takes practice and proper preparation. Very few people can walk into a room and simply wow the person they have just met. In fact, most students are often so focused on their own nervousness that they forget to focus on the person they are meeting! Some students already have the right skills, but do not yet know how to implement them in an interview setting. Shy students, anxious students, and those who don’t read nonverbal cues well require even more interview practice and preparation. Mastery of the following skills will ultimately translate into more opportunities:

  • How to enter a room
  • Eye contact and handshake
  • Vocal projection and intonation
  • Body language and position, including posture, gesture, and mannerisms
  • ‘Faking’ confidence using voice and body
  • Answering the invitation to ‘tell me about yourself’ with strength and intent

The most common advice given to someone being interviewed is to be yourself, but presenting yourself effectively requires confidence. Confidence is based on skills and practice: The more you review the necessary skills, the easier the actual interview will become, as you present your best self. Using improvisation to practice the process will lessen the anticipatory anxiety that we all inevitably experience when meeting decision-makers, admission directors, or future bosses.

One means of getting in good practice sessions is through an interview coach. Interview coaches are trained to identify areas that need development. They know how to accentuate a student’s strengths, and they give practical and immediate feedback. The coach will set up scenarios and provide the practice and support that will soon lower the stress a student associates with situations or subjects. Students become more prepared, and grow in self-confidence.

If you are interested in learning more about our interviewing skills workshop, or setting up coaching for your college student during breaks, please contact Diane Ferber, Executive Director at The Collaborative Center, at [email protected].


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