Acing an interview straight out of college


School does not quite prepare students for the real world. There is no class you can take to teach you how to submit your taxes, how it works and how to settle your utility bills. One of the most glaring problems in our education system is that we do not have a class dedicated solely to interviews. We have to learn through trial and error before becoming somewhat competent at interviews, but the secret lies in research and being proactive. 

Make sure you have something to offer the company

Fresh graduates often think that they are the shiny new penny that all companies should want. That kind of thinking is disappointing, and many learn quickly that if you do not have anything special to offer that makes you stand out from the rest of the herd, you will simply blend in. 

Taking a SEE program or having volunteer experience will make a resume stand out from one that lacks experience or further qualifications. Too many resumes are a carbon copy of the other with only extracurriculars making any (small) difference. 

What interviewer want to know when they ask you to talk about yourself

Probably one of the most stressful parts of an interview, the moment the interviewer asks you to tell them something not already on the resume or to talk about yourself. Where to begin? Career coach, Sarah Archer, suggests, “My best advice is to choose five things about yourself that are relevant to the job, eg your qualification, particular experience, specific skills you can bring and a passion or interest and use these to construct an answer. Don’t give too much detail.” 

You do not want to overwhelm the interviewer with oversharing but at the same time, you do not want to underwhelm the interviewer into thinking that there is truly nothing interesting about you. You can start with a quirk which is relevant to your job-scope, for instance, a passion for horseback riding and how it taught you perseverance and how you will be able to apply the same mentality to your position. 

Turn on the charm

Interviews do not have to be formal affairs where you put on a mask to hide anything human about yourself in a bid to seem ‘professional’. This is one of the biggest mistakes that people make because they think that is what companies want. The truth is, you can be professional and still be yourself. Inject a little humor and do not be afraid to let who you are show – it will make you a more memorable candidate. 

It is also worth noting that being awkward will carry and affect the atmosphere, making interviewers as uncomfortable as you are. If you are able to make your interviewers feel at ease, you have won half the game because it is psychologically proven that we gravitate towards those who make us feel good, comfortable and secure. 

Be honest but not divulge all the details

The truth about finding a job is on everyone’s mind: the pay. But it is something worth holding back on until you actually secure the job. Do not be afraid that you will not get another chance to discuss your pay before you are hired, you will. Also, if asked regarding why you left your previous job, it will be prudent to stay tight lipped and only share the absolute necessary, especially if there is negativity involved. 

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