Easily Avoidable Interviewing Mistakes Made By College Students and Recent Grads

recent gradI know you’re excited about landing that job interview, but before you go strut your stuff in front of a hiring manager, make sure you’re prepared. I’m not talking about making sure you bring a copy of your resume, cover letter, references, and availability (all of which you should have, by the way); I’m referring to content. Below is a list of areas that can trip up new grads, but before we even get to that there is one overall golden rule of interviewing that you need to know: You do not wing it. Ever. Don’t be that guy… or girl.

Researching the Company

Do it. When the interviewer asks you why you want the job you need to be able to talk about the company, their achievements, their culture. They may even ask you directly what you already know about them. Your knowledge reflects your interest, and if you don’t know anything it’s pretty safe to assume that the interviewer thinks you don’t care about securing this position.

Think Relevant, and Appropriate

When you’re thinking of examples to use when an interviewer asks about experience working in teams, being a leader, or dealing with stressful situations don’t look into your personal life. Just don’t go there. You may not have professional experience to call on, but you have experiences working other jobs or taking classes that can be applicable. Ever worked on a group project? That experience alone could serve as an answer for all three of those questions, depending on your role in the group. Delving into a relationship issue not only comes off as extremely unprofessional, but can create quite the uncomfortable situation for the rest of the interview. Also, just a little tip, stories involving alcohol are also probably not the best idea.

To Sell Yourself, or Not To Sell Yourself

What is a job interview? It’s a sales pitch, and you better start selling if you want that job! Grads tend to misunderstand the need to package their skills and previous experience in such a way that employers feel that they have the ability to perform well on the job. Take a look at the skills needed in the position you’re applying for and see if you can align your skills with them. Can you give examples of how they coincide? You want them to see that you have already shown competence in a previous position, and that those skills will transfer.

Last but Not Least… Practice

Practice, practice, a hundred times, practice! You might think after going over your prepared answers once or twice that you’ve got it down, but nerves can be a powerful thing. You want to sound natural, and comfortable, even if you’re sweating bullets. Practicing will help prevent you from clamming up or getting lost and frustrated.

All in all, take your time, do some research, and think your answers through. You’re not getting a diploma because someone looked at your high school transcript and decided you were good to go, and you won’t land a job just by having someone glance at your resume. Do the work and do it right, give yourself a fair chance at landing that position! Oh, and don’t forget a thank you following the interview, because that, too, could knock you out of the running. Good luck!

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