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Interview Strategies for Fresh Graduates

by Rinku Khumukcham
0 comment 6 minutes read

By: Kaustov Kashyap
You have completed your education and are heading towards a new phase of life. The first job hunt process brings with it a mix of emotions like fear, enthusiasm and zeal. As you enter this phase, you don’t want to goof up; rather you want things to go just right. Just remember that an interview is an exchange of information between you and a prospective employer. It’s an opportunity to convince the employer that you are the best person for the job, but it’s also a way of finding out if the job is a good fit for you. Following are some tips and strategies to help you deliver your best interview and increase the odds of landing your dream job.
What should I wear? How should I dress? What should I take with me? What do I say? These are just some of the things you are probably wondering when you get the call or email inviting you to an interview. Below outlined are the key things you need to do to prepare for the interview.
· Research the organization. Speak to people who work there. Search online and use any other resources you can think of. The more you know about the organization and the position you are applying for, the more effective you will be in an interview. Once you have done your research, create a few questions that you would like to follow up on with your interviewers. It will show that you have done your homework and that you are interested in the organization.
· Review the job description and your resume. Make sure you know which resume you used to apply for this position. Prepare a package for the interview and include your resume, reference sheet, list of questions, and any relevant project work or portfolio items.
· Practise answering interview questions and videotape your performance. Work with a friend who can critique your responses. You can also contact your local career centre; they may host workshops on how to approach interview questions or practice interview sessions.
· Decide what you are going to wear. Your clothes should be slightly more formal than what you would wear to work at that company.
Interview day
The big day is finally here. Be calm and confident, and remember that you have done all you can to prepare. Here are a few points to ensure that you make a good first impression:
· Turn off your cell phone before you enter the building.
· Arrive 5 to 10 minutes early.
· Greet the receptionist or administrative assistant in a friendly manner.
· Try to relax. Greet your interviewer by name, shake hands firmly, make good eye contact and smile while you enter the interview room.
· Don’t talk too much in the interview.
· Don’t be argumentative in replying to the interviewer’s questions.
To begin the interview, you will be asked a few “warm-up” questions (e.g., Tell us something about yourself or walk me through your resume? . While you are chatting and getting settled, arrange your resume, pen and paper. You may want to ask permission to take notes. When the interview begins, listen carefully to each question and take your time before answering.
Interview questions
Here are some of the interview questions you should be prepared to answer:
· What are your major strengths?
· What is your greatest weakness?
· Describe a situation where you handled a delicate situation very effectively.
· What attracted you to this position?
· Where do you see yourself after 5 years?
· Why do you want to work with this organization?
Many of these questions are behavioural interview questions. Behavioural interview questions are built on the idea that past behaviour will predict future behaviour. You can prepare for this type of question by practising response using the STAR formula:
· Describe the Situation, Task or Timelines.
· Outline the Action you took.
· Outline the Results of your action.
The results section is important in helping you to demonstrate the value you will bring to an organization.
Your questions
After you have answered the interviewer’s questions, he or she will ask you for your questions. What you ask can be as important as how you respond to the interviewer’s own questions. It’s your opportunity to show what matters to you and that you have taken the time to research the organization. Be sure to prepare a list of intelligent questions. In a first interview, it’s probably best to stay away from questions about salary or training. Look for ways to create follow-up questions to some of the interviewer’s questions; it shows you have been paying attention. Here are some of the questions you may want to ask:
· What would you say are the organization’s greatest challenges for the next three years?
· How will my performance be evaluated?
· Whom would I be reporting with on a daily basis?
· Could you describe the career path of someone who begins in this position?
· How is the working environment in the organization?
Watch for signs that the interview is over. If your interviewer is frequently checking the time, seems to be paying less attention to you or is getting restless, it may be time to excuse yourself. Once you know the time is up, here are a few tips to help leave a positive lasting impression:
· Tell the interviewer why you want the job and how you with contribute towards the organization.
· Repeat your top three qualifications for the position.
· Ask the interviewer if he or she wants a copy of your reference sheet (which you have with you).
· Thank the interviewer for his or her time.
You made it through the interview. But your work isn’t over yet. You should follow a few key steps to ensure that you stay fresh in the interviewer’s mind, and that you get the most out of your experience.
· Immediately after the interview, make notes on what you learned. You’ll use this information in preparing for a second interview. Note down your impressions on the organization and how you see yourself fitting into the workplace.
· Write a thank-you note through email or SMS to your interviewer. Be sure to repeat your interest in the position and highlight your qualifications. If there’s anything important that you forgot to mention in the interview, include it in this note.
· Rate your interview performance. Determine what came easily and what was more challenging. Be brutally honest, and practice the areas that you feel are weak.
A successful job interview takes practice so do not be hard on yourself if you make mistakes. Learn and apply your new knowledge in your next interview.
The writer is Founder & Director, Pragatee HR Career Consultant

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