Land that job! Top interview secrets for college seniors

Job hunt secretsIt’s that time, upperclassmen. You’re graduating soon! Woohoo! You made it! Now what? Well unless you won the lottery, or you came into a sizable family inheritance, you have to start looking for employment. AKA: work. To land that job, you will need not only the education you earned at your university of choice, but also a few inside tips on job interview secrets to set yourself apart from the herd.

What employers want

Finding a job has been, ahem, a bit tougher than usual in the current economy. But college seniors, don’t despair. There are jobs to be had, and they can be yours if you know what employers are seeking. In “What do employers really want from college grads?,” posted on March 4, 2013, for Marketplace, Amy Scott shared information on a study Marketplace did in conjunction with the Chronicle of Higher Education. The two groups surveyed more than 700 companies and found that “more than half of the employers said they had trouble finding qualified candidates for job openings.”

Despite a lot of attention be given lately to the study of science and technology, many employers are still looking for college seniors who are well-rounded and know how to write, organize ideas and communicate effectively. Sound familiar? Yes—those are all the classic attributes of a traditional liberal arts education. So you English and history majors, start smiling!

But the most interesting results from the survey, Scott wrote, is that “In industries across the board, employers viewed an internship as the single most important credential for recent grads—more than where you went to school or what you majored in. Even your grades.” Make sure to emphasize any internship experience you have when applying for a job!

What interviewers need to hear

You’ve got the degree, you’ve even got that internship experience, and now you have an interview. What do you need to say to the interviewer to land that job? Peter Vogt collected “Six Key Interview Answers Employers Need to Hear” for, which will help you reach the top of your game.

These are the key questions an interviewer wants to have answered about you during an interview:

  1. Do you have the skills for this position?
  2. Will you fit in with the job and the other workers?
  3. Do you believe in the company’s culture and purpose?
  4. Are you better than the other people being interviewed?
  5. Are you motivated to do well for yourself and the company?
  6. Do you really want this job, with this company?

Your answers will determine whether or not you transition from college senior to full-time employer—or college senior to living with mom and dad.

What NOT to say

Show up at a bank job interview wearing a Hawaiian shirt; chew gum while you are talking to the potential employer; take a call on your cell phone—all of these things would be a bad idea during a job interview, right? But what are some other interview secrets that college seniors need to be aware of to land that first after-college position?

For Fortune magazine’s blog on CNNMoney,Classic interview flubs you should avoid,” posted on May 10, 2013, Katherine Reynolds Lewis talked to hiring experts about the wrong things job candidates say to interviewers.

  • “I want to use my skills and grow and learn.”—It’s not about you, but what you can do for the company.
  • “I am interested in everything this company does.”—This is not a realistic statement. Speak about specific positions that fit your skill set and back it up with knowledge about the company.
  • “I’m a workaholic. I’ll do whatever you want from me.”—An interviewer might wonder if you need to work longer to get the job done. Plus, some companies actually value well-rounded employees.
  • “I’m a team player.”—Simply too clichéd.
  • “I’d like to make a contribution.”—Maybe you are that noble, but honestly, most of us just want to make some money. The interviewer knows it, and you know it.

Doing your homework about the company and having truthful, honest answers are far more likely to impress a potential employer and set you apart from the herd of other interviewees. Happy job hunting!

Any other ideas on ways to make the most of a job interview? Tell us in the comments below!

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