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Just Graduated: Mastering The Interview

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Jun. 26 2015, Published 3:30 a.m. ET

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So you’ve gotten the call for an interview – congratulations! Now what?

There are no set questions the interviewer has given you and they could ask you just about anything… yikes! Well, don’t panic. Here are some quick tips to help you master any interview for any industry and land that dream job!

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Know yourself

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Most people don’t seem to realize this, but one of the main reasons you got the interview was because there was something very valuable about you that the company needs. This is a good thing, but to sell a company on hiring you, you need to know everything about yourself – strengths, weaknesses, skills, etc. Not only will that help you nail some typical behavioral questions you might get asked, but it will make you feel more confident about what you can offer an employer. The best way to do this is to create a master sheet all about you. Write down experiences you’ve had, both professional and personal. They can be projects you’ve worked on, your family background, or even languages you speak and how you’ve used them in personal or professional settings. Once you’ve written those experiences down, write down the various skills that you acquired from those experiences. Things like time management, organization, or working on deadline or with difficult people are all skills that can be applied to many experiences you’ve had. As your list keeps getting longer, you will start to realize how much you have accomplished and just how much you have to offer. When you’re in an interview, you can easily think back on this sheet and use it to help give you tangible examples of your qualifications for the job.

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Know the company.

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One of the biggest mistakes some people make is not taking enough time to do their homework on the company that they have applied to. Please do not overlook this step! Learn about the company’s mission statement. Watch or read any of their work. Go on their website and see what they promote and what services they offer. You can also access their social media accounts or LinkedIn page and look at who they follow to get a better sense of who some of their employees or partners are. It’s important to do this because you want to make sure that you join a company that generally aligns with your beliefs and your professional goals. This also helps you get a better feel for the company culture, which is important to understand because it can impact their hiring decision. You should also do the same due diligence on the person you are actually interviewing with and the person who will likely be your direct supervisor.

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Have a mock interview.

common questions

How many times have you gone to multiple interviews, only to realize that another employer asked you that same question? Well, that’s not really a coincidence. Oftentimes, interviews are a combination of company-specific questions like “Why do you want to work for us?” or “What part of this company interests you most?” and behavioral questions like “Name a time when you had to think on your feet.” Interviews are a lot like standardized tests – they’re not very difficult if you practice enough times. So next time you’re loafing around the house without much to do, look up some top interview questions and just go over them in your head. Think about what your response would be. A great thing to do would be to have a mock interview, that way the person asking you the questions can study your body language as well, which can say more about you than you realize!

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Prepare your own questions.

ask the interviewer

So it’s the end of the interview and the interviewer says “Do you have any questions for me?” This is the moment you have been waiting for! This is your opportunity to get answers to some burning questions you might have about the job, the company, etc. It is important that you have questions ready to ask the interviewer. Come up with a quick list of things you might want to know – typical work schedule, who your supervisor would be, even what they typically serve in the office cafeteria…or if they even have one! Anything that you might not have been able to find out about the company or the job through your research might be easily answered by the interviewer, all you have to do is ask!

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Follow up before you even leave.

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Do not leave the room without asking about a follow-up timeline. Will it be days? Weeks? Who is the best person to follow up with? Which method of contact do they prefer, phone or e-mail? You have to be proactive, but not pushy. It is important to receive contact information from the interviewer or someone you can follow up with because even if you are not selected for that specific position, that contact person can offer you valuable feedback or might be aware of other opportunities that you would be a good fit for.

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Whatever happens, just remind yourself that you are awesome and you have gotten this far for a reason. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get that job. Chances are there’s an even better one out there waiting for you!

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