5 Unique Job Interview Tips for Recent Grads

 Job InterviewA recent grad was telling me how he was struggling with interviews. He’d prepared but didn’t feel good about how he delivered his answers.

The result: failure.

If you’ve been interviewing lately, you might know his story, first hand. It might feel a bit like you’re sitting in front of a panel of harsh judges; say the wrong thing and they vote you off the island.

Well, I guess a job interview IS kind of like that. But also remember that job interviewing , while it may be a new skill for you, takes some practice before you become comfortable and competent. It’s why I strongly suggest you practice with mock interviews and record yourself.

Here’s five unique tips that will help you practice well, win that job interview… and win the job offer:

1. Target Your Answers: 2 Minutes

In order to impress, your answers must be concise, yet complete.

Plan your answers to be about 2 minutes in length. 30 seconds is probably too short to convey major ideas. 3 minutes is too long and you run the risk of losing attention, and momentum.

2. Tell a Story

Whenever possible, connect your experience or comments to the employer’s needs by telling a story. It’s great if you have a wonderful behavioral story, but it’s got to relate to what that employer is looking for, or it may fall on deaf ears.

While story telling, beware of the “ramble.” Often grads tell me they struggle with this part. Keep the purpose of your answer clear. Have a concise beginning, middle, and especially an end to your response (one recruiter said that up to 60% of respondents get off track and don’t actually finish the entire story.)

3. Talk About Results

Once you have your story out, don’t forget the most important part: The results or outcomes that you accomplished that convinces the employer you have what it takes!

One recruiter said that often candidates are great at telling their story, but then they forget to tie it back to impact, or results at the end (“In the end, I increased productivity by 132%”).

4. Clarify the Questions

If you aren’t clear about a question being asked, seek clarity before answering (and singing the wrong song):

  • Clarify. “When you use the term resources are you referring to people, funding, or something else?”
  • Rephrase: “So, I just want to be sure I understand your question. You want to know how I would use resources – meaning funding – to improve customer satisfaction.” Repeat what you heard, and wait for clarification.

Using either example, you are sure to answer the question appropriately while demonstrating good active listening and communication skills.

5. Ask for Immediate Feedback

Maybe you’ve just finished your response masterpiece… and yet the interviewer is looking at you with a frown and a slight head tilt. In this case, take a moment to probe; find out if there was a connection between the question and your answer:

  • Did I provide the response you were looking for?
  • Is there anything you’d like me to clarify?

Remember the point of the interview (or, why they can’t just hire you based on your resume): The employer already feels wants to know if you can do the job (or you wouldn’t have been invited to meet). Now, they need to know if you want the job, and if you “fit” the organization. They simply can’t tell that from your resume. Ergo, the interview.

So prepare beforehand, practice with others, and record yourself. This will help you smooth out any interview bumps you may encounter when the actual day arrives. Then, stay focused and on task with your responses and you’ll leave with no regrets!


For this post, YouTern thanks our friend, Lea McLeod!




Lea McLeodAbout the Author: Lea McLeod is author of the Resume Coloring Book. Check it out if you are struggling with writing your resume in today’s job market. She’s also founder of the Job Success Lab so that you can GO PRO in any job! Follow her onTwitter and her blog: DegreesofTransition.com.


Image courtesy of blog.ecollegefinder. org. Thank you!



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