Interviews,especially job interviews are dreaded by almost everyone at some stage in life. Some dread it less and some get hyper-nervous. But it is no cakewalk for anyone. Definitely not for a college student, who, after long years of studying and enjoying is preparing to face the music.
While each interview is different, there are some general things you need to keep in mind before you go for it. The following tips comprise of both the general as well as some cool tips unknown to most job seekers, which can help you crack an interview.
1. Know what you want
I think the first tip for cracking a job interview is to go for the right job interview. A lot of times college students go for the wrong job; something which they know they’d dislike sooner or later. They usually succumb to peer pressure and follow the herd.
It’s true that we don’t always know what we want, especially right after college when the primary focus is to land a job and start raking in the moolah. That is okay but going for a job which is aligned to your interests will always shape up a great career for you. So think about it for a moment and decide on the interview you should appear for. Listen to your heart and then go for it.
2. Prepare, and then prepare a little more
You may have been the topper at your university and fetched medals in all sorts of activities. Good for you. But that doesn’t guarantee your success in the interview. The HR representatives from corporate firms are a different breed and being complacent is the last thing you can afford to do.
Hence, no matter how confident you feel (which is a great feeling to have), make sure you leave no stone unturned in preparing for the interview. And that means preparing for the common interview questions, refining your communication skills, taking advice from others and more. Here’s a list of common interview questions for your reference.
3. Study and get to know the firm
This is a very basic mistake which a lot of newbies tend to make. They are up for the interview but when asked what do they know about the firm, they don’t have much to say. That’s because they haven’t spent time checking the company’s website and googling its name to check its web presence.
Don’t be a noob. Do an in-depth study about the firm on the internet. Check their Wikipedia page if they have one, check their site, google their name, check who the founders are, check what does the company specialize in…all this will ensure that you leave a great impression on the interviewer when he asks what do you know about their firm.
4. Get your online profiles in order
While you are checking the firm online, don’t forget that they could check you online too. College students are known to be active on social networks and many companies now-a-days prefer to do a thorough online research about their job applicants. Hence it is important that you check out all your online profiles and make sure that you clear anything which you feel could obstruct your success in the interview.
5. Say “I don’t know” when you don’t know
Remember the interview of Chris Gardner (Will Smith) in The Pursuit of Happyness? He tells the interviewer, “I’m the type of person that if you ask me a question and I don’t know the answer, I’m gonna tell you that I don’t know. But I bet you what, I know how to find the answer and I will find the answer.” And he gets the job.
So be upfront and truthful. Don’t try to fake skills because there are strong chances you will get caught right there.
6. Don’t be aggressive
While it’s good to say I don’t know when you don’t know, it could be a possibility that you do know just about everything the person asks. And you might know much more than what the interviewer had expected. But this is where the problem begins. You tend to become aggressive and argue loudly.
Don’t let your confidence become your arrogance. Be calm and to the point when answering questions. You may consider being assertive but don’t try to be aggressive.
7. Have the right attitude
Have you ever wondered why a candidate gets the job even when he seemed far less qualified than the job profile required him to be ? Well, the answer is – attitude matters. And he had the right attitude towards the job. He was calm, curious, listened actively and demonstrated his potential to excel in the job, no matter what his qualifications are. That’s what you need to keep in mind too. Go in the interview room with the mindset that you will come out with an offer letter. Don’t treat it like just another interview.
Practice what, you may ask. Well, practice the interview…in front of the mirror. Yeah, you read it right. It’s old fashioned but still and will continue to be very effective. It can help you study your facial gestures and see where you need to improve. Plus it boosts your confidence.
You could also practice with your friends and classmates. Do role plays and try to create an environment of a real interview.
9. Think before you speak
Most of the time the interviewee assumes that his success in the interview depends on how quick he can respond to every question. And hence many times he says something which he shouldn’t have said. Therefore it is important that you don’t tread that path. There is no harm if you take a minute or two to think if you are stuck at a question. Ultimately, what you answer matters the most.
10. Begging for job
Emotional blackmails might work on some interviewers and you might get the job on the grounds of sympathy, but I’d say the chances are 1 in 100. You beg for the job and you lose the respect of the interviewer. It’s very hard to try any other trick on him after that. So don’t plead for the job. You would get it if you prove that you deserve it. Not by any other way.
11. Smile often
While crying and begging usually doesn’t work, smiling does. A smiling face often has a positive impact on the person on the other side. It makes the applicant appear confident and easy going. Of course for the candidate, a smile can do a great deal in reducing the nervousness and perform better in the interview.
12. Never badmouth college authorities or previous employers
No matter how much you hated your professors or any previous boss when you did a summer job, make sure you don’t tell that to the interviewer. This is when not being truthful is better. You don’t have to sing songs in their praise, just speak well of them.
By asking such questions, the interviewer will try to judge how comfortable you are under authority. That’s because you’ll have a boss at the job. So badmouthing your college authorities could leave a negative impression on him.
13. Money isn’t everything
It may be everything but you don’t have to show that in the interview. Also, as I mentioned earlier, you should go for a job which you know you would be interested in. Because when you appear for that interview, you would be enthusiastic about your future prospects irrespective of the money you’d make. And that is music to the interviewer’s ears.
How could I forget one of the most important things in an interview, especially when the applicant is a fresher just out of college. Your resume should clearly reflect what you were and what you are capable of.
A resume which is nicely done gives you an advantage over other candidates.
15. Be precise and clear
A common complaint which HR managers have when they interview college students is that the interviewees tend to beat around the bush and waste their time. That is again an indication of not preparing well for the interview.
So make sure that you answer precisely and clearly. Don’t add unnecessary sentences because that could give the interviewer a chance to grill you more.
16. Social networking
The importance of social networking before an interview is often ignored by the candidates. If you have a job interview coming up, why not go to LinkedIn or Facebook and try to find people who recently joined that firm. And then try to contact them to get some pointers. This is just one example of how you could utilize the social networks to prepare for the interview.
17. Take advice from seniors and professors
That’s why it is always advisable for a college student to maintain a healthy relationship with his seniors and professors. They are the ones who could give the most valuable tips which could help you crack the interview. So don’t forget to take advice from them before the D-day.
18. Ask questions to the interviewer
Every interviewer gives a chance to the applicant to ask him questions about the job and the company. You should utilize this opportunity to ask relevant questions about the job. Shying away from asking questions at this point could mean that you aren’t very enthusiastic about the new opportunity.
19. Switch off your cellphone
A simple but an important thing to do before the interview. It shows you are really serious about getting the job. In fact a better step could be not to carry your cellphone at all to the interview. That would eliminate the possibility of your cellphone ringing suddenly in case you forgot to switch it off.
20. Your posture and eye-contact
The way you sit and look at the interviewer matters a lot. It’s also a part of having the right attitude. Sit straight and have a constant eye contact with the interviewer. It shows that you are confident and ready to enter the corporate world.