The thing about being a student coming out of college is that a lot of the time you do not have any real-world job interview experience. Of course there are plenty of kids in school that have interviewed for your typical summer jobs: working at the mall, a frozen yogurt shop, maybe even slinging drinks behind a campus bar, but in terms of interviews that signify the start of your professional career, there’s relatively few with that type of experience.
But do not worry, here’s some simple interview tips that will help get you ready for your big day.
Sounds obvious, but you have to know what preparing means. Interviewers are going to expect that you are familiar with their companies and that requires for you do some homework. Know and understand the position you are applying for, be aware of the company’s competition and have a solid grasp of the industry as a whole. Tap into your school’s alumni network or your parents’ circle of friends to see what sort of information you can find. On top of that, just by reading articles in newspapers, trade journals or business magazine that relate to the job you’re going after will put you ahead of most of the other people interviewing for the same position.
“What’s your greatest strength?”. “What’s your greatest weakness?”. “Tell me about a mistake you once made and how you are dealt with it?”. “What draws you to our company?”. Prepping yourself and having strong, believable answers ready to go will let you knock these questions out of the park.
Use the information on your resume to develop five or six stories that you can relate to the position you are seeking. Each story should be about a particular situation or problem that occurred in a relatable context to the job you are interviewing for and what you did to solve the problem or make things better. Then when you are asked in the interview to talk about what you can contribute to the organization, you can draw on one or two of those stories to demonstrate that you have a good understanding of the potential impact you will have if you are hired. By having these stories prepared and ready to go, you’ll be able to adapt them based on the questions you’re asked.
Describing how your experiences and abilities will benefit you professionally by using language and terms set forth in the job description, you will put yourself well above other students. Thus, if your major was in theatre and you are interviewing for a job in marketing or sales, explain how you developed strong management and sales skills by promoting and managing your school’s musical productions.
A lot of times students are so hyper-focused on what they want out of a job for themselves that they shoot themselves in the foot by not considering what will make the interviewer happy. Simply put, frame the conversation in a way where it is all about how you can benefit the company. You want them to want you. So tactfully find opportunities to bring up how much you can do for them if they take you on – and if you are subtle about it, even how they would be dropping the ball if they passed you up.
Preparing two or three thoughtful questions about the company is a great way to show how prepared you are and that you have strong critical thinking skills. Asking questions that go beyond the generic: “What’s the general culture like here?” such as “I’ve heard there’s been some structural changes regarding departments and their goals. How would that affect the position I’m seeking?” will go a long ways to impressing a hiring manager.
Also, as an important side note, make sure you do not ask any questions that have already been answered on the company website.
Running through mock interviews with friends, mentors, or even just between you and the mirror is a good way to simulate the feeling of being in the real thing. You want to not just hear what you are going to say, but also pay close attention to how you are saying it. Emphasis, facial impressions, tone and inflections are all communicative aspects that you want to have dialed up right because interviewers are not just judging your content, they are also figuring out whether or not you are the type of person they would want to be a part of their organization.
An interviewer wants to know that you want to be there. Demonstrating enthusiasm through your words, body language and tone of voice can be a significant factor in your interviewer’s assessment of you. So while you want to appear composed and in control, do not try to come off as too cool, otherwise the interviewer might get the impression that you are not really that interested in the job. This is actually a common reason candidates are not offered a position.
Going through that first can be tough, and in some ways even daunting. But if you stay relaxed and stick with the tips listed above, you will give yourself a great chance and impressing your interviewer. Plus, remember this, even if the first job you apply for does not lead to a job offer, each time you interview you will gain valuable experience that will allow you to more and more effectively apply the advice offered here.
About the author: Dante Munnis is a content manager and contributor on essayrepublic. He is interested in career tips and tricks, success issues and interview articles. Also, he loves to share ideas for students on how to become successful in their future life, whether it interview or classes. You can get in touch with Dan via Twitter.
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