You've spent countless hours updating and refining your resume. You've written the perfect, keyword-optimized cover letter. Now you sit back and wait for the calls to start coming in, right? Not so fast. One more thing stands in the way of you and the perfect job? The interview. But do you even know where to begin when it comes to preparing for an interview? Let's break down a few four tips designed to help recent grads gain an inside edge.
1. Practice Makes Perfect
Going into an interview "blind" is a recipe for disaster. Even if you skate through without any major catastrophes, it's still a missed opportunity. Rather than winging it, take time in advance to research frequently asked questions in your area, and to prepare a rough outline of your response.
Avoid writing down answers word for word -- this can result in a "canned" delivery. Instead, jot down key ideas and concepts. Then, enlist a family member or friend to practice with you.
If possible, record your practice sessions. Understanding how you look and sound during the interview can help you take corrective action, if necessary.
2. Do Your Research
In an era in which data is literally at your fingertips, the rules have changed when it comes to understanding an organization. It's no longer considered merely advantageous to demonstrate knowledge of a company and its mission, products and services. It's a necessity. In short, there's no quicker way to tell employers that you simply don't care than by walking into an interview without this easily obtainable information.
Working this knowledge into the conversation can take some skill -- after all, the goal is not the simple regurgitation of facts -- but the results can have significant payoffs in demonstrating your capacity to make a contribution.
3. Be Prepared to Be Specific
Competency-based questions are increasingly popular with hiring managers. Why? Because any candidate can lay claim to desirable skills, talent and experience on a resume. Of more importance to today's employers? The demonstrated ability to use these attributes in meaningful ways.
Expect to be asked to share examples of times when you've exemplified time management, problem solving, and other sought-after "soft" skills. Be prepared to respond with detailed examples which serve as concrete evidence of these competencies.
4. Have Questions of Your Own
Too many interviewees respond to the interviewer's question of, "Do you have any questions for me?" with the unsatisfying response of, "No, I think I'm good."
Interviews work both ways: not only is the interview an opportunity for the employer to get a better sense of a potential candidate, but it's also an opportunity for you to get a better sense of potential employers. Don't waste it. Instead, go into the interview with a list of questions which can help you further understand what it's like to work for the company and/or if the job is a good fit. Asking smart, tailored questions also helps you stand out to hiring managers.
With countless candidates looking to land the best jobs, it's essential for new grads to position themselves for success. Rather than thinking of the interview process as an afterthought, leverage it into an opportunity to show employers why you're the right one for the position.
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