Kansas FFA Blog

Thriving at Your Next Interview: 10 Tips

The spring semester brings a feeling of rejuvenation for many of us. School is almost over, State Convention is approaching, holidays are celebrated, jackpot shows are starting up, track season begins…the list goes on and on. There are so many things to be excited about! Spring also brings something that we might not look forward to as much—interviews. Whether they be for scholarships, FFA or club offices, or summer jobs, we try our hardest to market ourselves for whatever position we are seeking. This can be incredibly stressful! From one student to another, I have sat on both sides of the table as interviewer and interviewee, and have learned much from the process. Here are ten tips to ease the apprehension and be prepared for your next big interview.

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BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
1. Dress for success. Plan your outfit the day before the interview. Generally, it is better to be overdressed than underdressed.
If you are interviewing in Official Dress, here are a few extra pointers:
• Make sure your shirt is tucked in!
• Before the interview, stop in the restroom and check your scarf/tie. Make sure your shirt is buttoned to the top.
• Ladies: Pantyhose are your best friend and worst enemy. To avoid runs, spray your pantyhose lightly with hairspray BEFORE you put them on.
Gentlemen: Wear dark socks. When you walk or sit, your ankles will naturally show a little, and white or colorful socks can be distracting against your black pants and shoes.
• For additional Official Dress hacks, check out this video:


2. Arrive at least ten minutes early. Regardless of how quickly or slowly things are running, you will have enough time to find the room and prepare yourself. Plus, arriving early shows the interviewers that you are punctual and you CARE.
IT’S GO TIME!
3. Your name is called! Before you enter the room, take a deep breath and release slowly. It sounds simple, but it works wonders to calm anxious nerves. Remind yourself of how awesome you are and open the door.
4. When you walk into the room, make eye contact with your interviewer(s) and introduce yourself. It is generally appropriate to shake hands with your interviewer in a one-on-one or small group setting.
5. If there is a chair, wait for the interviewer to invite you to sit. Or, take initiative and simply ask, “May I sit?” Sit slightly forward in your chair and plant your feet on the ground. This puts you in position to listen attentively to questions.
6. Be confident in your responses. It’s okay to take a few seconds to think about your answer before you reply to a question. Giving specific EXAMPLES from your own life shows the interviewer when and how you have performed in the past. Tie this into how you will perform in the position you are applying for. A method for using examples in your answers is outlined in the STAR format.
For a list of interview question topics and STAR format resources, see the notes at the bottom of this page.
7. Remember, the interviewer on the other side of the table is a person, just like you. Be honest and be yourself. Most interviewers can tell when someone is trying to play themselves up. Aside from technical know-how, allow your responses to reflect your character and what is important to you. Skills can be taught, but reliability and trust are built upon your actions alone. (Again, see STAR formatting resources)
WRAPPING IT UP
8. The final question. “Do you have any questions for me?” You may hear this one as the interview draws to a close. Try to ask the interviewer at least one probing question. Instead of asking “What is your favorite part about being ______…”, try “What does a typical day look like in your position?” This shows that you have a genuine interest in the position. Do not be afraid to ask when you can expect to hear about the results of the interview.
9. Thank the interviewer for their time. Remember that this person has given up a part of their day for you. A simple “Thank you for your time today” and a brief but firm handshake on the way out leave a good impression.
10. FEEDBACK. I was once told, “You have only failed if you have not learned something.” As a college freshman looking for summer internships, I have been turned away more times than I can count. But, with each interview, I learn what I can do to better myself to apply again in the future. It stings a little to be told “no”, but it is not the end of the world. Regardless of whether or not you gain a position as a result of an interview, you will walk away with experience. Reflect on the things that went well, and the areas where you need to practice. After the interview has concluded, ask if the interviewer has any notes or feedback for you to review. The great thing about FFA interviews is that your advisor will be happy to help you collect feedback from your interviews. Practicing interviews beforehand with your advisor or other experienced people will give you the feedback that you can use to be ready for your next interview opportunity.

 

 
STAR (Situation, Task, Assessment, Response) Interview Resources

Behavioral Job Interviewing Strategies for Job-Seekers

STAR Interviewing Response Technique for Success in Behavioral Job Interviews

INTERVIEW TOPICS AND QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
• Think of specific roles where you have shown leadership. This may be a club officer, being responsible for your siblings or family members, or maybe at a job you hold.
• Consider a time when you have failed. What did you do to grow from this mistake?
• If asked about weaknesses, be sure to share what you are doing to overcome them.
• Think of specific times that you have been on a team. It could be something as simple as a class project or sports team. What was your role? How did you contribute to group success?
• What is your Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE)? What is one goal you are working towards through your SAE?
• Give an example of a time when you worked with a difficult person to accomplish a task. What did you do to overcome your differences?
• As students, we get very busy managing school, clubs, work, family, friends, etc. How have you prioritized these things? How will you manage your time to meet the demands of this position?
• Why do you want to serve in this position?

 

Living to Serve,

*insert handshake here*

Grace Luebcke

State FFA Secretary

 

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