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Did you ever go to an interview without being prepared? Well, I did and believe me, I really didn’t expect things to turn out this way.

It happened last year for an interview with a BMO recruiter. During the same time, I was looking for a co-op placement in the private sector and I had even applied for a position at BMO (for which I still hadn’t heard back even though it had been quite some time). It was a mock interview organized by the Career Centre, and wanting to make a really good impression, I asked myself how I should prepare, especially since the interview wasn’t for a specific position. And then I asked myself, “What would happen if I went in without any preparation and just improvised?” After all, the main purpose of an interview is to determine whether there is a fit between the candidate and the employer. It was a risky thing to do but I still decided to go ahead with it.

Once I arrived, the BMO recruiter introduced herself with a large smile. We covered topics such as who I am, my projects, her career, and potential challenges for an employee who is committed to the project of starting a family. Since it was a practice interview, I felt more at ease, and the interviewer did not necessarily treat our interaction with the same level of formality as they would have if this was a real interview. So all in all, we had an informal discussion in a relaxed atmosphere. By the end of our conversation, I had really connected with the employer, to the point that we exchanged our contact information and she offered to put a word in for me for the position I had applied for at BMO. (I was later called for an interview for this position.) Yes, I had done several interviews before since I was a co-op student. Yes, I had participated in mock interviews for specific positions in the past. But I also went into the interview with something that we often decide to leave at home when we go for a job interview: my personality, the real “me”. It helped me answer the questions in a spontaneous way and I’m confident that it played a big role in my success during this particular interview.

Why did I decide to share this story? Because it took me a lot of time to realize that an interview is above all a meeting between two or more people who want to learn more about each other (yes, the assessing part goes both ways) to know if they are a compatible fit in a work setting.  I hope that my experience will inspire you for the future. Please don’t hesitate to share your stories as comments if you have had similar experiences.

I wish you all success!

Note: This above story is Marie Emmanuelle’s personal experience. The Career Centre team recommends that you do your research if you are interviewed for a specific role, since employers will want to see that you are familiar with the role and their company. In addition, some roles may require very specific practical components, such as case type questions or very specific situational questions. No amount of spontaneity will make up for what they will perceive to be your lack of interest or research in the position so it’s always good practice to go into interviews as well prepared as you can.

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