INTERVIEW ADVICE FOR RECENT COLLEGE GRADUATES
Are you graduating in 2015? This is really a great time for you to start thinking of strategies that will help you land your first job. Your strong resume and cover letter will get you the interview. And a successful interview will land you the job. Here are some tips on how to navigate some common interview questions.
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 5 YEARS?
This is a very common question. Companies ask about your 5 or 10-year plan. This is also the question that most graduates fail. Employers do value honesty, but they are going to put the company first. So, if you have any plans of traveling, getting married or going to grad school, you need to keep it to yourself. On a personal level, such goals are great but that does not tell your prospective employers that you will stick around. A good answer is where you would like see yourself professionally in 5 or 10 years.
WHY ARE YOU A GOOD FIT?
You have to prepare for this kind of answers. Research the company so you can match your skills with what the job needs and what the company mission is.
TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF
You have to understand that when an employer asks you this question, they are more interested in learning about your educational and professional accomplishments. Stay away from personality, social life, what it was like growing up, etc. Companies only care about how you will contribute to their growth.
WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE THIS JOB?
This is the kind of question you will get if the job you have applied for is unrelated to your major. You have to answer that this was your plan all along. You will also have to demonstrate how the skills you have acquired could be applied to this job.
WHAT ARE YOUR ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTS?
This question requires a careful answer. You should highlight your GPA, challenging courses, internships, papers published and new courses you have mastered. Even if you are the President of the tennis and other clubs, that should only be mentioned in passing.
DO SPEAK UP
A job interview is not a cross-examination. You do not have to speak only when spoken to. It is a conversation. So, ask questions when applicable, and offer info about yourself when appropriate.
PRESENT YOURSELF PROFESSIONALLY
First thing to remember is that you should never get creative with your look when preparing for an interview. Stick with the classic interview look. There should be no gum chewing while talking. If you wear perfume, keep it very light. Visible (perhaps awkward) piercings should be removed and please be mindful not to smell of cigarettes or alcohol. Finally, keep accessories to a minimum and your cell phone turned off.
PRACTICE BEING NATURAL
You need to practice some interview questions beforehand no matter how eloquent you may be. Practice the common interview questions in front of a mirror or have someone conduct a mock interview with you. Practice too, making eye contact. You should also remember to smile. Interviewers know that you might be nervous so they will cut you some slack.
Waiting for an answer is frustrating. That is the time you should write your thank you notes. You should also use this time to offer any additional info that you left out or clarify a point that you think was misunderstood. After a week, you may call and ask about the status of the hiring process. You might have to hear the bitter truth that they have hired someone else. Ask for some constructive feedback about you, so you may improve next time around. Or, they might tell you that they are still interviewing. However, your polite assertiveness will make you stand out.
Undergoing a successful job interview takes practice so don’t be hard on yourself if you make mistakes. Learn and apply your new knowledge in your next interview.
For helpful information on how to write a successful resume, visit AJE’s resources page. For great interviewing tips visit AJE’s interview advice page. AJE’s resume posting service gets great results as well so please check it out here. Our best wishes for a successful job hunt in 2015!