I’m a college senior. How do I prepare for job interviews?


Amanda Burgess George, Professional Staff Advisor; Advisor for Freshmen and Transfer Students at Large State Institution

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I agree with the answers that have been provided- practice for your interview; research the company/organization that interests you; take advantage of your college's career center; etc.

Another option to consider: take part in an internship or co-op. You could earn class credit for it, if you have a semester left. Or, you could choose to complete an internship prior to entering the work force. Internships within your field of interest are invaluable. Not only will you gain first hand experience in your career field, but also network and make important connections in this company or organization. Internships are a great stepping stone either during or immediately following college. Many students make connections as an intern that eventually lead to job opportunities.

Finally, be patient. Interviewing takes time. You may not land a job on your first try, and that's ok. Learn from each interview you take, and fine tune the next interview. Best of luck!

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Jonesf, Should I study for the PSAT?

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Amanda Morris, College Professor, Writer, Advisor, Writing Coach

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Practice, practice, practice! Check out this list of the 50 most common interview questions and then find a friend to role-play with you. Have your friend act the part of the potential employer - and find someone who will take this seriously and really try to put you on the spot. Then you enact the "interview scene" several times with a variety of questions from that list - different sets each time. Make eye contact with your pretend interviewer, smile, be honest, and find out which questions trip you up the most. Practice this way with a real person who is safe and when faced with an actual hiring manager, you will feel much more comfortable and confident with your answers.

My second suggestion is to do your homework on the organization. Look at their web site. Google the company for stories and news items about them. Figure out who does what, which department is having a banner sales year, and what the press is reporting on. When you are in the interview, you will be given the opportunity to ask questions. Pick something that you discovered in your research and ask something about that. For instance, you see that the company just won a major civic award in the city. Figure out (ahead of time) a good question related to that award - how did they get involved with that project, for instance. And then ask that question instead of asking about time off or salary. The interviewer will be impressed that you know something about the organization - not enough people take this step.

Finally, dress professionally, shake the interviewer's hand and smile when introducing yourself, and thank that person for their time and consideration when the interview is over.

When I teach business writing, I always have my students follow this advice and it has served them well. Remember that you want to present yourself as someone that they want to hire. So think about what you might want to see in a potential hire if YOU were responsible for hiring someone. You want an employee who is confident, prepared, courteous, willing to answer any question, and who has some basic knowledge about your organization. Sounds ideal, yes? And if you take these steps, you will set yourself apart from your competition.

Best of luck!

Dr. Aaron Smith, Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Currently Program Director at Aviation Academy, Co-Author of Awakening Your STEM School

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I would first begin be refining your resume and cover letter. Within the resume make sure that you have some of the "buzz" words that the company is specifically looking for from an employee. They can usually be found from their mission and vision statement.

Then as you prepare for the interview, review the buzz words and mention them. I highly recommend that you also try to find a way to distinguish yourself from the other candidates by leaving something that impresses them. An e-portfolio is a great way to do this. It is a collection of documents and products that testify to the quality of work you do as a prospective employee. It can be in a jumpdrive or even posted on a website. If you go the website route, I recommend www.yola.com. It is a free site where you can create and upload documents and your professional life.

Upon completion of the interview thank them by their last name and follow up with a hand written letter to them at work. Trust me, the little things go far. Good luck!

Marguerite Dennis, Higher Education Consultant

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First, make sure you have a list of the dates and times for all campus visits by company recruiters. Your school should have done a great job of preparing you for interviews.

Ideally, you began working with the staff in the career counseling office since your freshman year. You resume is impressive. All of your internships are listed on your transcript, as are all of the MOOCs you took over the past three years. If you spent a semester abroad, the college you attended is listed. You have many excellent references or recommendation letters as well as a good GPA. You have participated in mock interviews and you even bought an interview “outfit.”

Meet with as many company representatives as possible. Hone your interviewing skills, and get feedback from the company representatives whenever you can.

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