Job interviews are make-or-break moments when you’re fresh out of college. If you don’t have a long work history to evaluate, employers have to put a lot of stock in how your interview goes. Make the most of this crucial meeting.
Basic job interview tips
Show that you are ready for a career and you’re not mentally still an adolescent. Err on the side of modesty, and make sure your clothes are freshly laundered and wrinkle-free.
Turn Off Your Cell Phone
Too many recruiters tell horror stories about applicants answering texts or glancing at their phone during an interview.
If possible, be early. Even if you spend some time in the waiting room beforehand, you’ll get a chance to observe the mood and culture of the workplace. Whatever you do, don’t show up late.
If you seem too desperate, it will turn employers off. Give them the sense that you would be a natural fit from day one. Get a full night’s sleep beforehand so you’re fresh and alert.
Like we said in our section on finding the right job, some employers will assume you’re not interested or persistent enough if you don’t follow up after an interview. Start with a quick thank-you note or email within 24 hours of finishing your interview.
These are just some basic tips, but you’d be surprised how many applicants make a bad first impression. If you don’t bother to dress appropriately or put your phone away, then the employer will expect that kind of behavior from you on the job.
More advanced interview tips
If you’ve mastered the basics, start thinking a bit deeper:
Be Prepared for Anything
Have breath mints on hand, along with a stain remover pen (or spare shirt), just in case your morning coffee or lunch goes awry. Consider having a small sewing kit on hand, in case you have a wardrobe malfunction. Better to be over prepared than to walk into the interview feeling self-conscious about your stained or torn clothing.
Research the Company
Go beyond the company web site or Twitter feed. Look for employee groups on Facebook, earnings reports, and media coverage. Try to get a sense of where the company is heading so you will be a good choice for their future.
Clean Up Your Social Media Feed
Don’t leave embarrassing pictures on your Facebook page. Remove any profanity from your Twitter feed. Any reasonable employer will spend some time looking you up before making a final offer. Don’t leave anything that will be a red flag for them.
Don’t Leave any Answers to Chance
Practice your interview ahead of time. Don’t assume any question will be easy. You know an interviewer will probably ask you to tell them about yourself, so have a well-thought out and succinct answer for that question. Be prepared for the old chestnuts like “What is your biggest weakness?” and “Tell me about a time you faced adversity and overcame it.” Even if there are expected questions where you feel like you have a dozen great answers, pick the best ones and practice them. Don’t script out every word of your answer, though; come up with some bullet points and craft a natural response around them.
Be Ready for the Most Important Question
The interviewer will ask “Do you have any questions I can answer?” Have some good ones prepared. Be sincere. Remember, even if you get rejected for this job, this interviewer can help you land the next one.
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