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6 Ways For College Grads To Avoid Blowing A Job Interview

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As you proudly march down the aisle to Pomp and Circumstance, you probably have one thing on your mind: Don’t fall. You’ve already passed your finals and arranged for a celebratory graduation trip. And you already have a job nailed down, right? What more is there to stress about?

Well, if you haven’t clinched your first post-college job, don’t fret. The job market for recent grads is the best it has been in a decade, according to economists.

(I graduated in 2008 at the onset of the Great Recession, so be thankful. Seriously, be very, very, thankful.)

Unemployment levels have not been this low since 2007. You may not land your dream job right off the bat, but you have a better chance of getting one that actually utilizes your education and experience.

However, that doesn’t mean getting a job will be easy. The job market is still tough, the competition is steep and many grads are vying for the same positions.

If you are applying for or have already applied for jobs, there are a few interview no-brainers you should be aware of, such as always proofing your resume, cover letter, emails and job applications before submitting them, and dressing appropriately. Grammatical errors and cleavage are two surefire ways to not get hired.

I’ve personally conducted, observed and eavesdropped on several job interviews, and I’m honestly shocked by some people’s lack of common courtesy and common sense. You’ve scored the interview, so don’t let a stupid mistake cost you the job.

Pay attention grads, because these six pointers may help prevent you from blowing your job interview. 

1. Social Media Etiquette

Adding the interviewer on Facebook before even leaving the interview. True story. While it is acceptable to add professional peers on social media, there’s a time and a place for it. That time and place do not include right after the interview, in your car parked outside the place of your interview. Professional social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, are much more appropriate for connecting with business people and colleagues than Facebook, which is more personal.

2. Take Advantage of Silence

Don’t be a Chatty Cathy. Nerves can quickly get the best of you in an interview, but before you open your mouth, think. Instead of filling the silence with awkward, pointless chatter, take the opportunity to ask poignant, relevant questions. But don’t forget to give the interviewer time to get a word in and ask you questions, too.

3. Ask Questions

This job interview tip ties into the above piece of advice. When the interviewer asks you if you have any questions, you better have some. Thoroughly research the company (i.e. history, services, products, culture and clients) and the position. Inquire more about the job responsibilities the position entails or how the company would measure your success in this position. Not having questions about the job or company can make you appear disinterested.
 
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4. Arrive on Time

This one seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people show up late to an interview. Tardiness, just like in school, is not acceptable. If you are running late, contact the business or person who is interviewing you to let them know you are stuck in traffic or that one of your classes took longer than expected.

It’s a good rule of thumb to arrive early. If you do, just wait patiently, read over your resume and silently practice; your Words With Friends game can wait.

5. Accept Criticism

When you strut into an interview all cocky, expect your ego to deflate. Interviewers do not appreciate overconfidence, and they certainly don’t tolerate those who don’t take constructive criticism well.

If an interviewer points out a mistake on your resume or application, or questions one of your answers, respond calmly and graciously. Although it’s a bit tricky to hide the red rash rising up your neck, you can still act professional and respectful. You may actually learn something for your next interview. 

6. Be Honest

Positive attitudes and enthusiasm do not go unnoticed, but neither do arrogance and embellishment. No matter the number of educational and extracurricular accolades you have achieved, as a recent graduate, your resume should not exceed one page. On paper and in person, don’t overpromise. Be honest, and of course, be proud of your accomplishments and talents, but don’t oversell it. Even if you do get the job, your embroideries will inevitably come unraveled.

 

Congratulations, grads! Put your best interview face forward by avoiding these all-too-common blunders. Now, take a deep breath, stand up straight and ace that interview!

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