5 Interview Tips for Recent College Graduates

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When you’re ready to graduate and get a job you’re going to need to go on an interview and interviews can make or break you. You’ve got to be ready to answer the questions to present yourself as the best candidate for the position so that you can get hired. It’s really easy to make mistakes and lose a position because of something you said or the way that you came off. To help you make the best first impression, let’s look at five interview tips for you as a recent graduate.

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Photo via Thomas Beck on Flickr

Tip 1: Prepare with a Pre-Interview

You will want to pre-interview with potential questions. For example, there are some questions that you are almost guaranteed to hear during your interview. Questions like “Tell me about yourself” or “What is your greatest weakness?” and the best one, “Why should we hire you?” These are questions that you should expect to hear on your interview. You can also research questions that are typical for your specific industry. If you’re interviewing for a job in finance or in healthcare or in the marketing industry, there are certain questions that are going to determine what your skill set is and you should be ready to answer those questions. You should have answers already prepared.

Tip 2: Remember to Research

Next you should research the company. You want to know who this company is what they do. Is it a publicly traded company? If so, you should be able to find news or recent events that can give you insight on what the company does and any recent events of note.

If the company is private you could just check out their website. You might have to do a little digging or do some searches online. Just try to find out anything that you can about the company so that you can ask an intelligent question about the company.

You want to seem very prepared and part of that is researching the company and finding out what they do and how you as their future employee fit into their growth plans. Doing your research is really going to help you during the interview when you have to ask questions. Typically, at the end of the interview, the interviewer is going to ask if you have any questions for them. At this time you may ask a question about the interviewer, how the position that you’re interviewing for fits in with the company, what could be done to improve on the position. Another good question to ask is if there is anything that they think you could do to go above and beyond. This is where you really want to impress the employer by asking very specific, direct questions.

Tip 3: Dress for Success

Tip three is to dress the part. When you’re going on an interview, you always want to look your best. I once heard that you don’t dress for the job you have, you dress for the job that you want. (Sometimes even nicer than the job you want.) If you are interviewing for a job at a restaurant, you still should to wear nice slacks or skirt and a nice top. Depending on the industry you may have to wear something a little bit more formal. For example, if you are interviewing for a position in finance, you need to wear black or dark blue. And you have to keep it simple with pinstripes or plain colors. In addition, keep your hair pulled back if it falls past your shoulders. You need to look very conservative for job in finance when you’re interviewing.

If you’re interviewing for job in marketing you have a bit more leeway. For example, you can wear a green suit or a dark green color. It doesn’t just have to be black or blue; you can get away with a pop of color. A pink or teal colored accent item like a pocket square handkerchief or for ladies that nice colorful top to go underneath your shirt.  Regardless, you always want to make sure that you’re dressing the part and that you are projecting that image that you are already there and working. You want to show them what you would look like if you were to come to work every single day. That helps the hiring manager visualize you in the position from the first impression.

Still looking for a job? I’ve created a full guide with details and resume samples just for you! Check it out here.
 

Tip 4: Be On Time

You have to be on time. There’s a very simple saying and I don’t know where heard it, but I like to use it.

If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late. If you’re late, don’t even bother coming.

So it’s important to be on time. Your first impression is the first time the employer is going to see you and find out who you are. If you are not on time then they have a negative impression of you in their head without even meeting you. So make sure you are on time.

Ways to prevent being late

  • Scout out the area beforehand. If you are not familiar with where you are going and the building where you will be interviewing, then check out the area.
  • Do a test trip see what the traffic is like. You want to be very prepared for your interview so that when you arrive there are no surprises.
  • Early is better than late. You should be  be at least 15 minutes early. That is a good rule of thumb.
  • Prepare the night before. Lay out your clothes and make sure you have gas in your car etc. Those last minute stops really do add up.

Tip 5: Follow Up

The last tip is to follow up. When you are done with your interview, you can either send an e-mail or mail a letter depending on how quickly they are expecting to fill the position. A good final question is “when are you looking to fill this position”. Once you have the answer, you have an idea of the time frame whether they are looking to fill the position immediately or if they have some time. In order to follow up, make sure to get the e-mail address of the person who interviewed you. Send them an e-mail right away, either that day or that afternoon. You can write something like this.

Hello NAME,

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me. I remember that you mentioned that you were looking for ___ and I am confident that my experience ___ makes me the perfect candidate for the position. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best,

In this short letter, you want to reiterate your competitive advantages to reinforce why you are better than the other candidates and why they should pick you. If you discussed something in the interview that required a follow up, for example, if they had a question about your references that you couldn’t answer at the time then the email follow up is a great time to do it. Be sure to  follow up! It really does make a huge difference. You can do a letter as well. Physical letters are not done as much so if you have a chance and you can pop that in the mailbox the next day, that is going to put you above and beyond the other candidates.

Remember, finding the right career position is about the right fit for you and the employer, so don’t sell yourself short! Don’t forget the little things that are going to help you get the job.

Those are some tips for you if you’re looking for job if you are a recent graduate or even if you’re switching positions.

So what about you what was your experience like when you got your first job?

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About LaTisha

"Money is a tool. Use it to get where you want, but don't let it control you."- LaTisha

Author, motivational speaker, entrepreneur. Love to laugh and make others laugh. Focused on helping you build success and stay motivated along the way. Start investing now and let’s build wealth together.

  • Megan

    Great tips, LaTisha! Interviews are so competitive these days – it’s intimidating knowing that you’re likely to be one of dozens or even hundreds applying for a position – and standing out is so important.

    During the “prep” phase, it’s a good idea to ready some questions that you’ll ask your interviewer as well – that part at the end where they say: “do you have any questions for me?” is an excellent opportunity to stand out. Some of my favourites are: “What, in your opinion, separates a good employee at (BUSINESS NAME) from a great one?” and “What did the last person to hold this position move on to?”

    They’re a chance to show you’re thinking seriously about how to be a good asset, and see a future with the organization.

  • Megan

    Great tips, LaTisha! Interviews are so competitive these days – it’s intimidating knowing that you’re likely to be one of dozens or even hundreds applying for a position – and standing out is so important.

    During the “prep” phase, it’s a good idea to ready some questions that you’ll ask your interviewer as well – that part at the end where they say: “do you have any questions for me?” is an excellent opportunity to stand out. Some of my favourites are: “What, in your opinion, separates a good employee at (BUSINESS NAME) from a great one?” and “What did the last person to hold this position move on to?”

    They’re a chance to show you’re thinking seriously about how to be a good asset, and see a future with the organization.

    • http://YoungFinances.com/ LaTisha Styles

      Ooh! I like those questions! My go to question was ‘what are the growth opportunities?” That shows them that you are motivated and looking to settle in and move up in the company. Employee turnover is very expensive for a company.

  • teensgotcents2

    Really good article LaTisha! I haven’t been to an interview yet but will definitely keep these things in mind.

    • http://YoungFinances.com/ LaTisha Styles

      Always good to go prepared!

    • http://YoungFinances.com/ LaTisha Styles

      Always good to go prepared!