Best Advice for Recent Grads on How to Prep for Interviews

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The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) states that over 20 million students attended colleges and universities in 2016. Every year, college graduates conclude their studies and start hunting for jobs. As hiring standards are raised and industries become more competitive, students with medical, technical and administrative degrees must be prepared to ace interviews and make excellent impressions at every turn.

Preparation Technical Interviews

College grads who have technical backgrounds should be knowledgeable of the processes and materials needed to successfully complete tasks on time and within guidelines. For example, clerical, logistical and accounting employees must often oversee complex tasks and independently make decisions, so they will need to demonstrate their planning, leadership, negotiation and time management skills. Hiring managers may evaluate these skills through behavioral questionnaires, situational case studies and problem-solving questions.

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Technical professionals may be expected to work with other departments and perform a wide range of duties, so they should be prepared to provide work examples that highlight their teamwork, communication and attention-to-detail skills.

Common Interview Questions

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Hiring managers may ask situational questions that require strategic planning and decision-making. For example, the hiring manager may introduce a make-believe project that is falling behind schedule and exceeding the budget. They may then expect the job candidate to walk them through their logical problem solving process.

Alternatively, the interviewer(s) may describe operational or interpersonal conflicts between coworkers or independent parties. Common questions include how to re-prioritize tasks, how to maintain current knowledge and how to successfully communicate with diverse people. Any job requiring state-level or professional certification may involve questions about earning and maintaining specific licenses and credentials.

Recommended Answers

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There is no rush to quickly answer with a poorly thought out response. Instead, take your time and ask the interviewer open-ended questions to gain more information. Most of these questions may be safely answered by demonstrating knowledge of industry best practices and sharing relevant personal experiences.

When it comes to generic questions regarding the candidate’s biggest weaknesses and strengths, prepare an honest answer that avoids drawing negative attention to yourself. For example, it is very safe to discuss the tendency to become over-committed or overwhelmed with multiple priorities. This is a golden opportunity to discuss how you successfully minimize and handle these common issues.

Establish Your Uniqueness

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Inc. magazine states that the average corporate job receives 250 resumes that only result in four to six final candidates. It’s imperative to establish your uniqueness and individual potential.

First, mirroring your interviewer’s demeanor and body language will develop trust and cultivate commonality. A job interviewee’s level of formality and communication style should directly reflect that of the hiring manager.

Questions about your personality are excellent opportunities to set yourself apart from everyone else. Hiring managers may ask questions about your personality and background because they want to see how well you will fit into the company culture.

Provide Thoughtfully Succinct Responses

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It’s more helpful to prepare detailed responses to generic questions than it is to make broad statements. For instance, instead of saying that you are a high-energy person, state that you are excited by problems and energized by challenges. Instead of claiming that you are a hard worker, use measurable terms like working 10-hour days. Job interviewees who claim that they are quick learners may instead explain that it is their comfort and curiosity with ambiguity that drives creativity. Claiming to be analytical and organized isn’t as good as introducing the daily tools and techniques that help manage information, identify solutions and control chaos.

If you are asked by the hiring manager where you see yourself in three to five years, it’s best to cite self-assessments and personal goals that will drive career commitment, life fulfillment and top performance. Contact us to learn how we can help you find your dream job and pass the tough interview.