This is your first job ever. You’re fresh out of college. Your first professional interview and yes, the stakes are high. This job will set you on your career path and will be the stepping stone to your success. You’re nervous, your heart is thumping, you’re finding it hard to concentrate especially with so many other candidates out there. And if you happen to be reading this moments before your interview, here are a few tips for fresh graduates.
1. Research About the Company Before You Go
A classic mistake most fresh grads make is they fail to research about the company they are being interviewed at. A fundamental rule of thumb is to research about the company and prepare your own set of questions to ask your interviewers. Not only will this show you as an eager candidate but also someone who actually spent time in getting to know about their prospective future employers. This goes a long way in setting you apart from the rest of the candidates.
2. Avoid Fake or Generic Answers
There is no standard, ‘right,’ answer to any question. Remember, the interviewer sitting across you has ample experience, knowledge and the perspective to decide what kind of candidate they want on their team. You should avoid rehearsing lines and giving generic answers to seemingly common questions. This is your time to talk about your strengths, how you are the right fit for the job and what you can give them if they hire you. Be original. Be humble. Be confident.
3. Tackling Competency Based Interview Questions
Competency based questions are designed check your knowledge, skills and attitude. You may have to face questions like how you can handle stress or a high-pressure work pace. You may need to give examples of how you handle such situations and what component (of the any three above) did you use to resolve the problem/challenge.
4. Identify Your Unique Strengths
There are plenty of other candidates out there probably with the same qualifications as you. They are probably even from your own college or school. What is it that makes you different than them and why should this employer employ you and not them? Identify your strengths (we all have them!) - is it resilience? Is it grit? Is it the ability to think beyond the ordinary? Is it creativity? Nail it down and be prepared to give examples.
5. Avoid Overselling Yourself
The art to a successful interview is knowing where to strike the balance. Be confident, but not arrogant. Be vocal but not annoying. Be smart, not egoistic. Sell your potential and your talent, but don’t overdo it. You may not have experience if you’re a fresh graduate so your key advantage should be your people skills.
Interviews for fresh graduates are always a difficult experience but the more prepared, focused and determined you are, the better your chances in securing your job. At the end of the day, it all depends on how badly you want the job and why you believe you are the right fit for it. Best practice would be to write down things you know about yourself, including your strengths as well as your weaknesses. Think about stories, experiences or situations where you were able to utilize the best of your skills and changed the situation for the better. The more you know yourself, the better you will ace the interview!