Advice for Recent College Grads

  • Be Professional – You are no longer a student, you are seeking a full-time job.  Dress like the successful professional you aspire to be.  Wear a suit.  Polish your shoes.  Ensure that your hands and nails are clean.  Get a haircut.  This is real life.  Look like someone who is taking this opportunity seriously.  Arrive a few minutes early.  If you don’t know where you are going, take a test run the night before.  Bring a note pad, pen and copies of your resume.  Actually take a few key notes during the interview.  Refer to bulleted notes if needed.  Be professional with the receptionist who checks you in, the administrative assistant who escorts you to the interview, basically everyone you have contact with at the company.  They could be asked for feedback.
  • Be Prepared –  Do your homework.  Research the company.  Know their products and their competitors.  Know their most recent financial position.  Review recent news stories involving the company.  Demonstrate your interest by researching the company in advance and preparing insightful questions during your interview.  Review lists of common interview questions online and practice your answers.  Do not ramble.  Do not use fillers such as “um”, “ah”, or “like”.  Have examples prepared for behavioral questions.  Practice with a friend, advisor or family member to increase your comfort level with answering interview questions.
Image Courtesy of Dave Carpenter

Image Courtesy of Dave Carpenter

  • Show Respect – Yes you just graduated and hopefully you did well.  You do not know it all.  Show respect to the people at the company during your interview process.  Respect their knowledge and experience.  If they offer feedback, thank them for their insights and give it serious consideration.  Don’t waste their time.  Make eye contact and maintain a significant amount of eye contact throughout the interview.  It conveys your interest.  Turn off your smart phone before you enter the interview.  Do not ever answer a call or check email during an interview.  It is rude and disrespectful.  It is distracting even to have your phone ring during the interview.  Turn it off.  Do not chew gum.  Look and act like a professional.  Show that you can fit in the organization.  Do not talk down to the receptionist or administrative assistant.  If heaven forbid you are going to be late, call and let someone know.  Always send a handwritten thank you note to all interviewers, it distinguishes you from the competition.  Be sure to customize each note to the individual you spoke with on the interview.
  • Engage with the Interviewer – Be totally focused on your interview.  Listen carefully to the questions and give thoughtful, succinct answers without fillers.  Maintain eye contact with your interviewer while listening to questions and while answering.  Stay focused and in the moment.  Take a few notes to show that you are actively engaged.  Keep your cell phone turned off.  No distractions.  Turn off everything else in your head and be totally in the moment.  This is your one shot to demonstrate what you can do for them and how you fit with the team.  Make the most of it.
  • Know Yourself and Sell Yourself –  You must be able to articulate your value proposition.  What makes you unique and how can you help solve their business problems.  This is not about what you want.  It is about what you can do for them.  Clearly articulate your strengths and your interest.  Have positive examples do demonstrate your key strengths.
Image Courtesy of the Daily Snooze

Image Courtesy of the Daily Snooze

  • Focus on Transferrable Skills – Most likely you have never done the job you are interviewing for.  Identify and focus on your transferrable skills.  What have you done before that would help you succeed in this position.  What critical skills in the job description do you bring to the table.  Show how your knowledge and experience can help them solve business problems.  Clearly understand the job they are hiring for and what you have to offer in that position.
  • Don’t Jump the Gun – You got an interview, not the job.  Do NOT ask about salary, benefits, time-off in your interview.  Wait until they express interest in hiring you to ask those questions.  Don’t focus more on future promotions than the job they are trying to fill.  Do not think you can come in and immediately change the company and the way they do business.  Get the job first and focus on doing that job well.
Image Courtesy of

Image Courtesy of

  • Show Them You Want the Job – In addition to answering the questions, demonstrate your sincere interest in the job.  Ask insightful questions.  Show your passion and enthusiasm.  End with a question that envisions you in the position such as “How would my performance be evaluated at the end of the first six months?  What does success in this role look like?”

One thought on “Advice for Recent College Grads

  1. Pingback: Advice for Recent College Graduates | Get to Work

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