Job interviews are one of the things that almost everyone gets nervous about whenever they come up in conversation, and college students are no exception. However, one interview could mean the difference on whether you start up your career or not, and that will most definitely be a life-changing experience. It’s important to explore ways that a college student can prepare for a job interview.
Below is a list of ways that college students can best prepare for interviews, whether it’s going into the office with a show of professionalism or simply writing your resume well. Each of these things is important to remember when you are going in for the interview, so you’d do well to practice each of them. Hopefully, these tips will put your mind at ease and help you to be confident and well-prepared for your next interview!
1. Research the Company
First of all, it’s important to know exactly what you are applying for. It would be embarrassing if you walked in and knew nothing about the company where you are applying to work. Depending on who is interviewing you, they will be asking you quite a few questions about their company and what role you want to play in that company.
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If you are able, it is important to know everything you can about the company you are applying to work for. Research the company’s mission statement, products (if applicable), when they were founded, and whatever else you can think of. The more you know about the company and what they offer, the better off you’ll be during an interview.
2. Dressing Appropriately
People say looks don’t matter, which, in the long run, perhaps they don’t. However, the first appearance always leaves an impression, so you’ll want to make your first impression a great one. Dressing like a professional is one of the best things you could do for yourself. Even if you have to wear your interview clothes to another appointment, it’s important to be prepared and on time.
3. Schedule Carefully
And speaking of time, you must schedule everything well. This means you ought to choose a window of time where you won’t have any classes or other appointments for a long while. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the interview and back without being late, because that won’t do you any favors.
It’s probably not a bad idea to be several minutes early for your interview. Being on time is good, but being early is even better. It conveys a sense of professionalism, dedication, and dependability to your future employer, and that will make you a much more appealing candidate. Being late will do exactly the opposite; all you’ll be able to prove is that you are unreliable.
4. Be Confident: Don’t Underrate Yourself
An important thing to remember is that there’s absolutely no reason you should underrate yourself and all the skills you have. The purpose of a job interview is for the interviewer to assess all of your skills, which will then help them to determine whether you are a worthy candidate or not. Since this is the case, you shouldn’t be afraid to let them know what you can do!
Your resume and application should be filled with details about what you can do. You ought to build your resume on lists of your experience, special skills, and valuable talents you might have. Of course, you should be careful not to overinflate your resume either. Try to only include skills and experience that are relevant to the position you are trying to get.
5. Be Honest
Speaking of your resume, be as honest as you can when creating it, and don’t oversell yourself. Yes, it is important to be confident about your skills, but if you start listing skills you don’t have or exaggerate the skills you do have, this will reflect badly on you in the future. Why is that?
If you brag about skills and experience that you don’t have, there is a chance you might get hired. So why is that a bad thing? If you start working that job and start to run into problems or projects that need work and attention, you may start to find that you don’t know how to go about it.
That will lead to people questioning your abilities and your credibility as an employee. If worst comes to worst, you could find your employment being terminated, which will leave you without a job and possibly without a good reference. Getting the job might be an immediate, gratifying victory, but you won’t be celebrating later if or when you end up losing your job.
6. Turn Off Your Phone
Respect and attentiveness are two things that will take you far during an interview. Again, first impressions do matter as far as the professional world goes, so you must be on your very best behavior. Before you walk into the interview, make sure your headphones are put away and your phone is on silent.
If your phone goes off during the interview, it will distract both you and your interviewer. Since this is the case, you should not, under any circumstances, take calls or texts, or do anything else on your phone while you are being interviewed. Be courteous and attentive to what the interviewer is saying. The more aware and attentive you are, the more the interviewer will be inclined to ask you back.
7. Ask Questions
While we’re talking about being attentive, you should try to ask questions. Many interviewers will offer ten or so minutes at the end of the interview during which you can ask any questions you might have about the company, the position, the potential work schedule, or anything else.
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If you can, ask some questions at the end of the interview. This will reinforce the interviewer’s belief that you are truly interested in their company and therefore more willing to work hard to get the job. This will reflect very nicely on you as an employee, so be interested! It can only help you become a more appealing candidate.
8. Review Popular Interview Questions
Job interviews are nerve-wracking at best for most people. However, some of that nervousness might subside if you practice your interview answers several times until you are comfortable going into it. Some career services even offer mock interviews, during which you can practice professionally presenting your skills.
Another thing you ought to do is make a list of popular and common interview questions and requests. Some of these include why do you want to work here, potential scenarios, telling about yourself, sharing your strengths and weaknesses, etc. If you write those down far ahead in advance, you can practice responding to those exact questions and have planned out what you are going to say.
Not only can this help you calm your nerves, but it may also help you to be prepared for whatever the interview might bring. You’ll have well-thought-out answers and smooth responses that will wow an interviewer. Even if they know you have practiced beforehand, they should be impressed with the amount of work you put into it.
9. Know Your Availability
No matter how much you want to prove to your interviewer that you are willing to take any hours at all, you need to be honest about how available you are. College students are busy people who have a lot to deal with, whether it’s classes, homework, another job, or whatever else you may have on your plate.
It will not do well to tell your interviewer that you are available for more hours than you are. This could result in you being hired then showing up late or starting to fail in other areas of your life. For your well-being and your interviewer’s be honest about your availability. This will best serve your interests, plus it will help your interviewer to see that honesty is important to you.
10. Bring Your Information
It is important to have your resume and cover letter on hand when you go to a job interview. It doesn’t matter if you already submitted a cover letter and resume with the job application. It will prove to your interviewer that you always come prepared. Take extra care to construct and refine your resume in the most productive and relevant order possible.
Keep the resume short and to the point (it shouldn’t be any longer than one page!) and do the same for your cover letter. You will likely have to change your resume per job interview because you don’t want to be listing previous work experience that won’t be helpful to you in this particular interview.
11. Come Alone and Without Food
As a college student, you are now an adult and more than capable of dealing with professional business on your own. What this means is that you do not need to bring a friend or anybody with you when you go in for an interview. Having a buddy will signify a lack of self-sufficiency that is not typically desirable in a workplace. It may also signal to your interviewer that you aren’t very reliable. You need to show that you are grown up and know exactly what you are doing.
This may seem like a weird tip, but you should never think about bringing food to a job interview. Now, you are a college student. You have a busy life, you may not have had a chance to eat before class and you wanted to grab lunch on the way to the interview. That’s fine, but don’t bring your lunch in with you. Keep your clothes and face clean, and you won’t have a problem. Bringing food will convey a bit of a sloppy vibe, and that’s the last thing you need at a job interview.
12. Be Excited and Courteous
This does come back to first impressions, but it’s an important part of a job interview. One of the best things you can do is keep a smile on your face when you walk through the door. Be polite when they greet you or vice versa and do your best to convey a sense of excitement. Interviewers appreciate it when you thank them for their time because most of them are quite busy.
Be sure to thank them for their time and the opportunity they’ve given you to come and work at their company. When the interview is over, it might not even be a bad idea to send a note of thanks. You shouldn’t lay it on too thick, and you don’t need to act like a bootlicker, but be genuine, sincere, and very grateful. It will make a difference to your interviewer, and that way you can expect courtesy in return.
13. Follow Up
The follow-up is one of the most important aspects of the interview even though it happens days after the interview. Once you’ve had the interview and sent a thank-you note, you’ll probably go a few days without hearing anything. Some people might think of reaching out again as bothersome and obnoxious and will simply wait for the company to get back to them.
However, when you reach out to your interviewer again and respectfully ask if they have decided on a verdict for the interview, that signals to the company that you are willing to fight for the position and will naturally assume that that dedication will carry over to your work. You don’t have to be pushy or demanding. All you have to do is ask if they have come to a decision, then thank them again for their time and the opportunity.
Job interviews are intimidating, but they are going to come up in everybody’s life at some point. However, if you are willing to abide by these tips and practice good interview habits, you are more than likely to be successful in the professional world. If nothing else, be polite and professional, and you’ll be well on your way to acing every interview you are in.