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Interview Tips for College Grads

Submitted by on June 6, 2013 – 1:34 pmNo Comment

College Grad Job Interview

How College Grads Can Prepare for Job Interviews

by Kathleen Brady

The basic question in every interview is “Why should I hire you?” The interviewer’s objective is to assess your credentials, form an impression about your personality and determine the degree to which your interests and background correspond with the employer’s hiring needs. Your objective is to translate your abilities, skills and attributes into benefits for the employer. You must be able to verbalize why your strengths are of value to this specific employer.

Prepare Your Responses

While it is natural to be nervous in interviews, preparation will enable you to keep your nerves steady. Your goal is to focus on your message, not on your nerves. Think of at least three main points you want to make. Use concrete and clear examples that demonstrate these strengths. Focus on your abilities and talents during the interview and present them with convic­tion and enthu­siasm. Remem­ber that the interviewer must be able to see and hear the enthusiasm that you wish to portray.

Many interviewers conduct “behavioral interviews.”   They ask precise questions designed to elicit specific information about how your accomplishments demonstrate the behaviors that have proven successful at their organization. The questions are formulated from the contents of your resume. They are searching for clues that address the following questions:

  • Can you do the job?
  • Do you interact with people easily?
  • Are you easy to interview, confident and clear in your answers?
  • Do you listen?
  • Do you ask sensible questions?
  • Are you likeable?
  • Will you complement or disrupt the department?
  • Do you demonstrate good judgment?

Review the company website to get a sense of the behaviors important to the organization and select stories that demonstrate success in those areas. Write out your answers. Review and edit them. Your answers should be brief and should objectively emphasize how you achieved concrete accomplishments.

Begin by answering the question with a brief summary (think outline) covering all salient points. Pause to gauge the interviewer’s level of interest. Give a more detailed description if the interviewerseems interested or asks you to go on. Be certain that your responses highlight your skills and abilities; demonstrate your knowledge and expertise and reflect your motivation and personality. Do not ramble. Be concise but do not fall into the trap of responding with monosyllabic yes or no answers either.

Project Confidence

Your background and record of accomplishments are amplified or diminished in the eyes of the recruiter by the general impression you create. The first few minutes of the interview are crucial. Employers make up their mind about candidates very early. Your handshake must be firm and confident, your gaze steady, your appearance impeccable and your confidence apparent. This is not to suggest that form is more important than substance; however, you want to ensure that the form you present does not create any barriers preventing the employer from experiencing your substance. Leave your cell phone in the care!

Remember, the interviewer is there to see what you have to offer, not to hear explanations about what you don’t have. When you practice answering interview questions, eliminate all “no’s”, “not’s”, “didn’t’s”, “although”, “buts”, and “howevers” from your speech. Rephrase your answers using positive speech forms.

Ask Questions

Get the interviewer to talk about the position to uncover exactly what is being sought by asking questions. Remember, this is a conversation; there should be interaction. Ask technical questions to demonstrate your knowledge of the field and to show that you are already looking for solutions to the employer’s problems. Ask what qualities they think are essential for success in this position. Do NOT ask about salary, benefits, vacations, pensions and hours until you know you have an offer.

Have a positive attitude!

Adopt a “have done – can do – will do” attitude. It is not always what you say that counts but how you say it. View anything negative as a challenge, an opportunity, and something exciting. Do not be apologetic about anything; handle your “Achilles’ Heel” factually and non-defensively.

Before the end of the interview, ask if you have the qualifications they are seeking. If not, now is the best time to find out so you can adjust your approach going forward.

Kathleen Brady, CPC is an iPEC-certified career management coach with more than 25 years of experience helping people identify and realize their professional career goals. In GET A JOB! 10 Secrets to Career Success (Inkwater Press, 2013) Brady shares her secrets for navigating the job search process from start to finish as well as practical exercises for job seekers at every level. GET A JOB! is available at,, and other online retailers. For more information, visit

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