Paige Geer was born and raised in the state of Indiana. She attended Indiana University where she majored in Psychology with a minor in business. She was the president of the Miss Indiana University Student Organization which had a major focus on philanthropy and fundraising, culminating in producing a major campus event, Miss Indiana University. She was also a research assistant for her favorite psychology professor. After school she went on to be a Territory Sales Manager for Altria and is currently studying for the GMAT so that she can earn her MBA. Her career goal is to take her psychology and business experiences and use them to become an expert in consumer behavior and marketing.
Senior year of college is a delicate balance of planning for the future and focusing on the present as those four (or five) years draw to a close. At this point, you’ve finally mastered the art of all-nighters and skimming articles, only to be thrust into a brand new venture; interviewing for your first job out of school. You have attended the career fairs and filled out more online applications than you can count and congratulations, it paid off! You have the interview scheduled with your dream company but now comes the hard part, actually sitting down with the talent acquisition professional and convincing them you are perfect for the job. Below are four tips that will help prepare you for those important 30-60 minutes.
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare
A great place to start is to look up as many generic interview questions online that you can find. Simply type in “job interview questions” on Google and you’ll find an enormous amount of resources. Starting here is beneficial because you can start getting a feel for answering questions about yourself, which can feel awkward and unnatural. Also, you would be surprised how many times you’ll actually get asked generic questions like “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” (Hint: twist that weakness into a positive by commenting how you are working on it daily and have improved. Self-awareness!).
Next step in prep is to research the company. How do your experiences represent their values? How does their mission statement go along with your personal career goals? You need to know enough about the company to be able to ask educated questions and slip in comments on their history or clients with your answers. If you can do that seamlessly, it shows you are invested, not just putting on a generic act from interview to interview. It can seem overwhelming but you’d be surprised how much information you can grab when digging through a website for an hour while taking notes.
2. The rule of Three
As I’ve said, all this information can be overwhelming, especially if you have multiple interviews in a week. However, I’ve found that having three key pieces of information on a subject can really carry you through a conversation. Never go into an interview without: 3 questions about the job or company, 3 experiences of your own that tie in with the position and the company’s values/mission, 3 interesting/beneficial facts or pieces of history about the company, and 3 reasons why you would excel at that job position. Walking into an interview with these in your arsenal will help make the interview more of a conversation; you don’t want to sit there waiting for them to fire questions at you for a solid hour. If that happens, you’ll get more questions and the interviewer might feel like you don’t actually have any interest. I recommend three because one isn’t enough and two appears like “just enough”, while three can facilitate a true conversation.
3. Be Early!
A very wise soul once told me, “Ten minutes early is on time, five minutes early is late, and late is unacceptable”. That has been my professional mantra since I first heard it and I hope you’ll follow suit. If you are late, you might as well write off that potential job because it just doesn’t work as a first impression. You also don’t want to seem frazzled and rushed when going in for an interview, which can happen if you just made it in time. When walking into an interview you want your heart rate down and a calm disposition. You’ll look much more confident and pulled together, and THAT happens to work very well as a first impression.
4. Be a Good Investment
This is the most important tip of all. Each of these companies look at you as an investment. Not only are they adding to their payroll, but there is also the time and money they will put into training you. Never forget that the person interviewing you is determining if you are a good investment for their company. You must make yourself a good investment or you simply won’t be hired. Much of this is created during your time in college through internships, classes, jobs, and extra curricula’s, so while in the interview use all of that. You want that interviewer to know that you are going to be a great return on investment for the company and that all of your experiences and knowledge will be of value to them. Convince a talent acquisition professional that you are more of an asset than a risk and you are that much closer to landing the job.
Everything you have worked for in college as led up to this and this is your chance to make that tuition, lack of sleep, and stress worth it. Don’t underestimate the importance of this short time period in your life, the interview period. You’re about to start the job that could shape your entire professional career, or, maybe you’re not. Either way, it’s time to prove to yourself that hard work pays off and that those four (or five) years were definitely worth something. Good Luck!