When in college, you’re used to competition. From scholarships to internships, you compete at every step with other students. Although you may think applying for internships and scholarships is just a lesser version of a job hunt, the world of employment is a much more competitive landscape.
Cleaning out your dorm, ridding school supplies with a textbook buy and sell back service, shopping for business attire, and getting student loan bills should be the signs that the party is over and it's time to pay the tab. One thing that might not dawn on you is thousands of other kids your age are in the same boat and there are a lot fewer dream jobs than dream seekers.
Landing an interview is never enough. You need to go beyond the usual to impress your potential employer and get the job. Here are a few job interview tips to help you improve your chances of success as a recent college graduate looking for your first real job out of school:
Prepare To The Core
We all know preparation is the key to succeeding in an interview. But most recent college graduates don’t prepare enough, which is why they fail. If you want to get the job, then you need to prove that you’ve done your homework. Preparation doesn’t simply mean skimming through the company’s Wikipedia page and website. You need to go out of your way to find out as much as you can about the company—about its culture, the industry trends, and so on. That's how you demonstrate your worth to the interviewer.
Your interviewer wants to see how your current skills complement the requirements of the job. The best way to prove them is to draft stories about your previous achievements. Why? Because stories are more convincing than factual data (in the job interview, not on your resume). Make sure your stories are interesting and to the point. Have a good opening line and see to it that you’ve learned them by heart. Be clear and avoid sounding like a robot. To keep your stories concise, use the "Experience + Learn = Grow" model to answer behavioral interview questions.
Avoid Overselling Yourself
You know how they say that you should “be yourself” to make the best impression? It’s advice that you should stay away from when being interviewed. While it’s good to be enthusiastic, energetic, and positive during your interview, don’t oversell yourself. The simple reason for this is that employers know that there’s a lot of talent in the market. And candidates can go to any extent to get the job—even exaggerate their skills and experience. So if you’re going to say something, you better back it with solid proof (aka quantify your accomplishments).
Focus On Your Potential
Like any other candidate, you too are not perfect, which is why you shouldn’t give the interviewer a chance to talk about where you lack. Instead, lay more emphasis on your potential, which clearly shows that you have what it takes to succeed at the job. If you don’t have real-world experience to boast of or if your past achievements aren’t relevant to the job, then you should talk about your quick learning and adapting abilities. If they ask about your weaknesses, mention them, and then talk about what you're doing to improve. It helps you win the confidence of your interviewer to a great extent.
Remember, as a recent college graduate, you might not have highly specialized skills and years of experience under your belt, but you do have something unique to offer. That’s the uniqueness that you need to use to make an impact on your interviewer.
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This article was originally published at an earlier date.