Commencement is just the start! We want to help our alumni prepare for what comes next, so from time to time, we’ll be offering posts focused specifically on the information young alumni need as they prepare to enter the workforce, from resumés to job interviews and everything in between.
As a new graduate navigating the job search process, there is nothing worse than landing an interview with a company and then blowing it.
Fortunately for both job-seekers fresh out of the classroom and those who have been on the hunt for a while, there are a few simple things you can keep in mind to bolster your chances of success and being asked to sign on the dotted line.
First of all, make sure you understand the position. If you apply for a job thinking you will be managing the social media accounts for an organization and the hiring manager asks you in the interview about the strategies you might use to improve communication among the employees, there might be a problem. Be sure you read the job posting carefully and that you understand the scope of the work before you go into your interview.
Dean of Trevecca’s School of Arts and Sciences Dr. Lena Welch, known fondly by her students as the queen of research, said oftentimes, taking to the internet is the best way to start. Company websites, social media accounts and even the profiles of current and former employees on LinkedIn can offer valuable insight into both the culture of the company and the specific duties of the job.
“Make sure you have researched the company and the position. It shows you are interested in the organization and that you have initiative,” she said.
You don’t have to know everything about the position — in fact, it’s good to have a few questions prepared to show you are interested in specific aspects of the work, but don’t go in blind.
Next, practice answering a few common interview questions. Know what you are going to say when the interviewer breaks out the ever-popular “so, tell me about yourself.” Have your elevator pitch ready to go so you don’t have to ramble through the bullet points on your resume. This can be a great way to prepare your answers for the harder questions, like “How have you handled previous conflicts at work?” or “What is your leadership style?” (Research the STAR method for a strategy on how to approach situation-specific questions). Welch said this exercise also allows you to practice your speaking voice and body language.
“It’s important to look someone directly in the eye and show a sincere smile. If you’re wearing a mask, it’s important that your eyes be smiling, too). In the past, I would mention a firm handshake, but not anymore,” she said. “Sit toward the front half of the chair so that you look more alert. Make sure you understand the question before you answer it, and don’t be afraid of short pauses. That shows you’re thinking and attending to the specific question. And be sure to dress appropriately and make sure your clothes are professional but comfortable. You don’t want to be tugging at a tie or adjusting your clothes the whole time.”
While in the interview, it can also be helpful to take notes so you have a record of what was discussed, what the responsibilities are, possible start dates, compensation and so forth.
Carrie Lovett, director of human resources at TrustPoint Hospital and a graduate of Trevecca’s Master of Business Administration program, said it can also be helpful to ask for the job following the interview.
Most candidates fail at this step, Lovett said, but expressing your desire can make a big difference.
“Being clear about your intentions after the interview can seal the deal,” Lovett said.
Trevecca’s Career Services team is always happy to help. Learn more at www.trevecca.edu/offices-services/career-services.