How to land a job: Successful interview tips for college students

One key factor to land a job is to come prepared to the interview.

One key factor to land a job is to come prepared to the interview.

As you prep for the so-called “real world,” nothing occupies more of your waking thoughts than how to land a job after you graduate. Sure you have a great personality, decent grades and any employer would be lucky to have you, but the trick is making them realize that. The key for college students, or anyone for that matter, is acing the interview. So how do you do that exactly? Read on for successful interview tips that will have you gainfully employed before that first student loan bill hits the mail box.

Modesty—not the best policy

Your mom may have told you it isn’t nice to brag, but when it comes to your job interview, forget it. There is no better time than during an interview to lay out how awesome you are. Of course, you have to relate all that greatness to why the prospective employer should hire you. On Nerd Scholar, Mike Anderson wrote on October 25, 2012, in “Nail the interview, get the job: 5 tips for college students and recent grads,” about how to best promote yourself with successful interview tips such as “Know yourself.”

What does that mean exactly? Anderson explained, “Some students don’t always know how to articulate their strengths, but that skill is the first step toward a successful interview.” Other tips include be prepared to discuss your weakness: “If you have a weak GPA, be prepared to defend it. If you grades improved over time, explain how,” he elaborated. Practice talking about yourself until it feels less weird. And, wear something nice. Like something your parents think looks nice, or even better, that your grandparents would think looks nice.

Top three tips

Odds are, you will be nervous when you get to your job interview. But don’t despair college students! You can channel those jitters if you are prepared. How can you get prepared? By knowing the top three successful interview tips that Kendall Bitonte laid out in “Three interview tips every college student needs to know” for USA Today College on January 6, 2012: 

  1. Demonstrate that you are needed—Bitonte’s suggested college students create a “30-Second-Commerical” about themselves. During that time frame, they should answer these three major questions: Who am I, what do I want to do and what do I bring to the table. Make sure your answers are as engaging as they are informative.
  2.  You’ve done the work, now communicate it—Pay attention to how you speak. All too often we get lazy and throw in too many “yeahs,” “you knows” or “ums.” All are a surefire way to turn off a prospective employer. Not sure what to say? Simply pause. It will be WAY better than letting “and I’m like” escape your lips.
  3. Know your employer—Sure an interview is not the time to be modest, but that doesn’t mean you can completely gloss over the job you are seeking. It is extremely important that you demonstrate to an interviewer that you understand the company and the field. “Interviewees that do not ask thoughtful questions about his business are at a disadvantage,” Bitonte reported.

Tech-savvy interviews

Back in the day, a job interview was a face-to-face meeting. But today, the Internet is changing all that. So what should you know if your job interview is going to take place via Skype?

Many of the same successful interview tips still apply: be prepared and dress professionally. But there are other areas to consider. Kaitlin Louie blogged about this topic for in “How to prepare for a Skype interview” on September 19, 2013, and she advised the following:

  • Set up your interview space—You want what the interviewers see behind you to look clean and professional.
  • Practice with a friend—This will give you the opportunity to see how loud you need to be or control any nervous tics you may have.
  • Streamline all technical aspects of your interview beforehand—It’s best to close other applications, make sure your Internet connection is good and understand all the functions of Skype beforehand.
  • Remove or forestall all potential distractions—That means arrange a time when roommates won’t interrupt you.
  • Maintain direct eye contact—You have to look at your computer’s camera, NOT at the computer screen.

And whether you are doing your interview in-person or online, ALWAYS follow up with a thank you note. Follow these successful interview tips for college students and you will land a job in no time! 

Have thoughts or suggestions on how to nail a job interview? Tell us in the comments below.

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