News Oct 27th 2015

Nailing your first job interview

Job Interview

As a newly minted college graduate, or an eager student aiming to score the price tag of a new laptop, the job interview is the gateway to gainful employment. Chances are, you are just one of many applicants who are just as or even better qualified than you are. To get an edge and the job, avoid the many pitfalls and common mistakes many college students make in their first interview. We listed them below:

Telling your entire life story in your resume

The contents of your resume are all the employer knows about you at this point, so you might think they would want to know every little thing? Wrong.

The employer only wants to know one thing, and that is if you are qualified for the job. They don't care if you were head cheerleader or captain of the football team in high school. They don't have time to go through several pages of information that are not relevant to the position. At this point, your resume should not be more than a page long.

Focus only things about yourself that show them you have what it takes to do the job. It might surprise you what those may be. For many jobs today, they ask for your social network accounts or your Klout score, because they want social influencers onboard. Who knew all those hours posting on Facebook could land you a job? Be careful though. Employers also look at what you do or say in your posts, so if you have any rants or photos that show you in a bad light, keep your account details to yourself.

Sending a one-size-fits-all resume

If you have several job interviews lined up, customize your resume to fit each position. Highlight the skills and work experience that will help you get the job, and nix the ones that have nothing to do with it. If you have the one skill, spin it the best way you can to fit the bill.

Forget about jobs you only did for a short time. If you only stayed for a couple of weeks in one job, do not include it in your resume. It gives employers the impression that you have no staying power.

Making a bad first impression by dressing inappropriately

One of the things employers look for are applicants that look the part. What you wear and how you look is the first things they see, so it is crucial that you present yourself appropriately. Many new applicants make the mistake of not putting much thought into how they look when they come in for an interview.

Your biker persona may make waves on campus, but it does nothing for you if you are applying for an office or retail job. On the other hand, dressing up too much can also keep you from landing a job, because…well, you look silly.

Your best bet is to check out what employees are wearing and mimic it as close as you can. If you have no opportunity to do that, strike a middle ground and dress neatly but plainly. Tidy up your hair, and clean your fingernails. First impressions are important, so make a good one.

It is also a good idea to do some research on the company, as you would with any school assignment. You can try striking up a conversation with the receptionist or any employee and get a feel for the culture. That way, you can project yourself as fitting right in.

Talking too much, or too little

Your first job interview can be nerve-wracking, so a common reaction is to talk too much. Remember that you are the interviewee; your role is to answer questions concisely and accurately. Babbling is not only pointless; it is irritating. Resist the temptation to fill a pause in which the interviewer is probably thinking about what you have just said with chitchat. Say your piece, and wait quietly for the next question. This brings us to another thing.

Not preparing for possible interview questions

Employers usually have a set of questions they ask all employees, and you should be prepared to answer them. One of the most common is “Why should we hire you?” It won't do to say “because I need the money,” because for one thing that makes you sound desperate, and for another, that does not benefit them. What you need to say is why you are the best person for the job, no matter what it is. Before going in for an interview, decide how you will answer questions like these.

Keep in mind, college is now over and this is real life we are talking about. In class, when you failed, you can retake the class again. This time around, when you fail in your job hunting, you won't get to earn an income. There's no more Mom or Dad or other relatives to lean on for your expenses, so better take your interviews seriously and earn your own keep. With that, welcome to the adult life!

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