Interviewing 2.0 – Tips for New Grads

It’s graduation time and soon, new grads will be lining up job interviews and striking off on their own.

While much has remained the same in job-hunting, today’s job seekers would be wise to brush up on presentation – how will you package yourself and sell yourself in the job interview? While recent graduates have some of the same challenges expressing their skills and capabilities as older more seasoned workers, the challenges of being a newbie are unique.

Competition is fierce and you will probably be competing with dozens of other equally qualified candidates when you go in for your interview. Here are three tips to help you shine.
Identify peak moments that will serve as case studies during your interview. I often advise people both young and old to look back over their lives- both education wise and workwise – to identify 2 – 3 peak moments that exemplified exceptional work. Those peak moments would be instances you can point that illustrate one of your core skills. For a seasoned worker, this would most easily be a successful work project, the launch of a new initiative or benchmark you helped your company to reach. But for recent graduates, peak moments are trickier.

For a recent grad like you, a peak moment could be leading your sorority fundraiser and meeting a target fundraising goal. Or coming up with an idea that was key to the success of a group project. Or perhaps you were a great team builder who was always able to motivate the members of your academic or athletic team. Don’t forget any accomplishments you can point to from an internship.

All of these examples illustrate a your innate skills and core qualities that will be exemplified later in the world of work. So you should look for examples from your years in college where you worked well with groups or motivated others to achieve a desire result. These are the types of things that employers look for, as they would be an asset to an organization.

Don’t focus too much on high grade point averages or great test scores in your interview. At the end of day your test scores and exam scores don’t really show how well you will work with others, and be able to show initiative to get things done. Think instead of how well you showed initiative,  leadership and teamwork. Be able to point to a few of those times from your college or internship days.

Be likable. If you land an interview, congratulations! Now the real work begins. Read the interviewer’s body language and be deferential. Show respect. Be confident in your skills and accomplishments but don’t come off as a know-it-all. That quality can turn off interviewers, especially baby boomers. People hire people they like, so strive to be easy-going, courteous and kind. Make eye contact and smile when you come in to shake your interviewer’s hand. Thank your interviewer for their time and smile again when you leave.

Bonus Tip -It should hopefully go without saying that you need to turn your cell phone off during the interview. Turn it off and put it away to keep yourself from checking the time or for text messages. Also, don’t chew gum, and don’t fidget with your hair or clothes. Keep your hands in your lap.

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