Phil Blair: Job Interview Tips for Recent College Grads

With thousands of graduates around the country entering the workforce, job hunting is at its peak right now. But job hunting can be a daunting experience for a lot of college graduates. Good news is, 2016 is a great year for hiring college graduates. Challenging news for the college graduates starting to enter the work force: interviewing can be a challenge, especially if you haven’t interviewed much. That’s especially true when you’re interviewing for entry level jobs, because, in general, it’s a level playing field with all candidates having the same basic qualifications.

However, there are ways to prepare for an interview so you can stand out from the crowd of entry level candidates and make the best impression on the interviewer. The more you prepare – by practicing your interview skills, researching the company, being able to show why you’re qualified, and by following up after the interview – the better chance you’ll get at securing that second interview and/or job offer.

Analyze your target job. What skills, knowledge and personal qualities are required by the employer and are critical for success in that role? On resumes, candidates often include accomplishments from various positions. However, as a new grad with less job experience pick out a few successes (4 or 5) from your classes that correlate to the position you are applying for and create case study will stand out. For each of those assets be prepared to share an example or anecdote which shows how you used that strength to complete an academic project or successfully carry out a work or co-curricular role. Discuss what the problem was, the solutions and results achieved.

Show Enthusiasm. Be ready to articulate why you are interested in the target job/organization, how it relates to your goals. Show enthusiasm during the interview for the job.

Practice Interviewing. There are common interview questions you are likely to come up against, so think about how you would respond. Practice your responses with advisers and use the interview preparation modules offered by the career office at your college. There are also some great interview review samples for common questions in my book, Job Won, that it might be good study guide. Don’t overlook talking with college alumni working in your target field. Ask them about what it takes to be a success in your chosen career.

Research the Company. Research the company you are interviewing with. Learn about their challenges and accomplishments. Read the press releases on their website. Look for articles in the business press evaluating the progress of the company. Treat your interview as if you were studying for a final. Know everything you possibly can about the company before you walk in.

Pay Attention to Your Body Language. During the interview, be sure to pay special attention to your body language: shake hands firmly, make eye contact as you articulate your points, and sit up straight. Make sure you are paying close attention to the questions you are being asked before you respond. It is important you give the impression of being engaged in the conversation. Remember to ask for clarification if you are uncertain about the direction the answer should take.

Be Ready to Ask Questions. Be prepared to ask questions about the job that reflect your genuine interest and build on the research you have done about the position. Write a few down before you go to the interview. Keep paper & pen handy to write additional questions as the interview goes on. Towards the end of the interview, let the interviewer know that you think the job is an excellent fit & briefly let them know why and that you are highly interested.

Say Thank You. Make sure you get the contact information for your interviewer and send a follow-up email & hand written thank you note, as soon as possible after the meeting

A successful job-search starts with a thorough plan. Every interview you take requires the same dedicated research. Remember that finding a new job opens up a world of exciting possibilities, opportunities to increase your earning power, meet new people, discover new companies, and acquire valuable skills.  It can be the most important test you will ever take.

Categories: Job Tips with Phil Blair