Just as “location, location, location” is the mantra of real estate, “experience, experience, experience” seems to be the driving force behind getting hired in today’s job market—an intimidating reality for recent college graduates to face. Fortunately, if you know how to ace an interview, there’s no reason for a lack of job experience to hold you back. Want proof? Try implementing the following ten strategies on how to interview after college:
- Research: The job, the organization, the industry, and even the competition.
If you appear more knowledgeable and prepared than candidates many years your senior, you stand a good chance of impressing your interviewer enough to land the job. You should therefore dedicate a significant amount of time to researching the relevant industry (try trade journals, business magazines, or industry blogs to get the inside scoop) and the people at the company you’re applying to (via LinkedIn and other forms of social media). Pay special attention to the company’s culture, contrasting it with that of their competitors—this will allow you to succinctly explain why you’ll be a good fit for the organization.
- Play up volunteer experience.
If you look at your volunteering history, you may discover that you have more relevant experience than you realize. Almost all college students have done at least some volunteer work during their academic careers.
Even if you, for example, simply helped out in your school’s computer lab, that can translate well on a resume. Focus on the skills you learned (guiding people through solving complex problems, managing and overseeing systems, etc.) and explain how they make you the perfect candidate for the job.
- Avoid giving generic answers to interview questions.
If your interviewer is willing to hire someone inexperienced, they are likely looking to bring fresh new ideas and ways of thinking into their organization. As such, replying to standard interview questions (e.g.”What are your strengths and weaknesses?”, “Why do you want this job?”, “Why this organization?”) with polite rote answers is an extremely poor move. Instead of playing it safe, rehearse meaningful, personal answers to these questions which showcase the unique individual you are.
- Remember to tell “stories” during the interview.
The term “stories”, in the context of job interviews, refers to developing 5-7 recounts of situations related to the information on your CV. The stories should focus on explaining the context of the situation, then outline the problem and how you helped to solve it. For example, if during your time helping out at the school computer lab the network went down and you helped to diagnose the problem, you should tell that “story” during your interview.
- Emphasize value.
The dynamics of the modern workplace strongly revolve around the concept of value: What each employee can add to the organization. You should therefore frame each of your answers to the interviewer’s questions to show what value you will add to the company and how you will add that value.
- Practice using the right vocabulary.
When being interviewed, try to use industry terminology where appropriate, in addition to using action-oriented, succinct language when explaining how your academic and extracurricular experiences make you the ideal candidate for the job. Avoid overly casual language and unfocused rambling.
- Show enthusiasm.
While it can be understandably frustrating to be applying for an entry-level position after having invested years of time and a substantial amount of money into your college education, it’s vital to not let these frustrations show in your demeanour. One of the best assets young people have is their natural energy and enthusiasm, so spend some time outlining all the positives of the job you’re applying for; this will prepare you to seem genuinely excited about it. (Remember, every job is a gateway to greater opportunity.)
- Practice with a mentor.
When it comes to interviews, practice makes perfect, so if you have access to a mentor (within your chosen industry is preferable, but any older person with work experience will do), spend some time discussing possible interview questions and then rehearsing answers to them. The more you do so, the more automatically they will come to you during interviews, and the more at ease and professional you will appear.
- Learn how to present yourself professionally.
Many college grads have been raised with the image of laid-back workplaces thanks to the influence of IT giants like Google and Facebook, but outside of IT startup culture, smart attire and professional deportment are still the order of the day. Be sure to show up to your interviews neatly groomed, dressed in appropriate business wear, and ready to display your best manners.
- Always follow up.
Some college grads are unaware that it is now standard practice to follow up on interviews by thanking the interviewer with a short email. This step is essential, however, as it keeps your name fresh in the interviewer’s mind and shows that you’re serious about getting the job.
Within 24 hours of the interview, send a polite email thanking the interviewer for the opportunity and briefly confirming why you would be a great fit for the organization. When you send your thank you email or note include at least three clear and concise value statements in bullet points briefly outlining the value that you will bring to the organization as an employee(new hire). I highly recommend sending a personal handwritten note which will impress the hiring manager and set you apart from the competition.
Follow these 10 interview tips and get hired for the job you want.
Robert Moment is an interview coach,speaker and author of Interview Tips:Proven Job Interview Tips, Interview Questions and Interview Skills to Get Hired in Job Interviews for the Job You Want.. Robert specializes in how to interview tips and skills, helping professionals maximize their knowledge, skills and abilities to get hired,promoted and paid more in job interview opportunities. Robert tell professionals why they aren’t getting hired for jobs and teach them, how to get hired, how to sell themselves , stand out from the competition and negotiate the best salary for themselves.