Interview Tips for College Graduates

Once you graduate college, the job search process might seem incredibly daunting. The transition from a classroom to a real-world meeting is the next step, but the interview process still stands in the way of getting hired by a prospective employer.

But fear not—there are several essential interview tips to keep in mind during job interviews and the entire hiring process.

Read on for 16 of the best job interview tips for job seekers and recent college grads alike.

1. Do Your Research

One of the best tips for college students to understand prospective employers is to fall back on something familiar—research! It’s essential to learn everything you can about the company and the role you are interviewing for.

This not only includes familiarizing yourself with the job description and corporate culture within the company but also the history and organization as a whole. Ensure that you research the company in every aspect possible—read reviews, explore their media presence and latest news related to the corporation, and more.

You can even research similar roles in other hiring companies to get a good idea of job aspects that you might have missed or skills that you should bring to the table. Make sure that you demonstrate a working knowledge of the role and candidly speak about your interest in being part of the company.

2. Conduct Practice Interviews

As with any other new endeavor, practicing beforehand will help you immensely. For recent graduates, you should always go through possible answers you might have to common interview questions in advance of actually attending the meeting.

Career advice experts recommend that college grads who want to be seen as candidates practice aloud in front of a mirror, with a partner, or a mentor.

This helps alleviate the pressure you might feel during the real thing, particularly if you have not done many job interviews as a college student. Listen to your word choices and tone, and focus on conveying the right facial expressions for first-time success.

3. Bring a Copy of Your Resume

The person conducting the interview will likely have a copy of your resume at hand, but it’s a good idea for new graduates to bring a physical resume as well.

This shows the hiring manager that you are serious about the role and landing it and makes a good impression. If you bring a copy of your cover letter or any other supplemental documents to your job search, that is great too!

4. Dress to Impress

First impressions are essential, so it’s important to impress your interviewer within the first few minutes of entering the meeting.

Make sure you are dressed in business casual wear, such as a suit or a professional dress, to give the immediate impression that you are ready to fit into the work environment. For college graduates, this might mean borrowing an outfit or going shopping, depending on what your wardrobe holds!

5. Be Punctual

Be on time and ready to go for the interview without having to remove jackets or dig out your paperwork. Making the meeting flow smoothly is one of the best ways to impress your interviewer and prospective employer.

6. Anticipate Competition

All jobs come with competition for the role, even entry-level jobs. You are not the only one applying for the position—many candidates are!

New college graduates might face fears that the other applicants are more qualified for the role, but it’s important to anticipate any concerns before attending the interview. Go over why the interviewer or hiring manager should choose you.

What do you bring to the role that others do not? Ensure you have answers for potential competition concerns prepared for the potential employer. The less work they have to do imagining you as a part of the company, the better.

7. Ask Meaningful Questions

Formulating good questions to ask at the job interview is essential for college students and anyone else interested in securing a superb interview process.

This will show the interviewer or hiring manager that you have carried out research into the company prior to the interview and are very interested in the role.

8. Be Interested in the Opportunity

Even if it’s only an entry-level position, it’s important to show interest in the role and the opportunity it provides you.

Hiring managers and employers understand that you will not want to stay at the entry-level for your whole career, but knowing you have an ultimate goal further within the company is a good indication that you are a good fit and a strong candidate.

9. Use Correct Body Language

When it comes to interviewing tips for recent college grads, first impressions are key. Therefore, the body language you bring into the interview and how you physically interact with interview questions will play a large part in getting the job.

Make eye contact with the interviewer to communicate focus, have a firm handshake, maintain good posture, always speak clearly, and use professional language.

The interviewing process is less an interrogation or conversation about your experience or college degree than a professional discourse to determine your fit and skillset within the company.

10. Show Enthusiasm & Energy

One of the best things a recent graduate can bring to an interview is positivity. When you show enthusiasm and energy relating to your career goals and the potential position, it will only help you in the job search.

Recent college grads and job seekers with good energy will undoubtedly be favored above candidates who give off a negative vibe during the hiring process, so keep that in mind and keep a smile on your face, even if you don’t get the job offer!

11. Elevate Your Vocabulary

Like researching your prospective employer, knowing the correct vocabulary to use during the job interview is essential. Take your college graduate experience and translate it into the interview process—use the terms described in the job brief and supplement them with vocabulary from your own academic knowledge or volunteer work. This will help showcase you as a strong candidate who has a solid knowledge of the role’s terminology and base workings.

12. Prepare Answers to Go-to Questions

Interviewers typically have a variety of go-to questions for candidates, so it’s a good idea to be prepared to answer them. And while these will change depending on the position and the person doing the interview, you can still prepare yourself to some degree. Common interview questions include the following:

  • Can you share a time when you faced a challenge and what steps you took to overcome it?
  • Share some of your greatest accomplishments.
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What made you interested in this industry?
  • Why do you want this position?
  • Why do you want to work at this company?
  • Where do you see yourself professionally in five years?

A good idea to prepare yourself for the inevitable personal questions such as your strengths and weaknesses or why you are the best candidate for the job is by selecting a few adaptable stories from your resume that are appropriate for the job.

For example, you can explain how a challenge was accepted and overcome and what you would have done differently in the future, based on an experience you had in previous jobs or in your college career. 

Having tangible proof of your suitability for the role is a great way to nail an interview!

13. Highlight Your Reasons

You might want to work at a particular company for a myriad of reasons, but it’s important to be able to adequately communicate them in an interview setting.

Instead of coming up with why you want to work in a particular industry or at a specific company on the spot, you should take the time to highlight your reasons in advance.

Be prepared to show why this is your chosen path when interviewing, and have concrete examples of why you want to have a career in that industry or field. It’s important you are a candidate that wants more out of a job than the paycheck.

14. Have Questions for the Interviewer

Interviewers like to be asked questions by the candidates, too. It shows initiative, interest, and your focus on understanding everything about the role. So, don’t be afraid to bring some good queries for your meeting.

Example questions to ask during the interview process include the following:

  • What does a typical day look like for this role?
  • What does success look like for this particular position?
  • What is your favorite thing about working for the company?
  • What is the most exciting thing about this company’s future?
  • Why would you recommend a career with this?

15. Close the Interview Well

Don’t let the interviewing process fizzle out towards the end. Instead, end it on an actively positive note. 

Let the interviewer know what you especially liked about the job profile, role advertisement, or what excites you most about working for this company. End the interview with enthusiasm towards the following steps, and it might help sway their decision.

16. Follow Up

Don’t be afraid to follow up with the interviewer after it’s over. You should email a brief thank you note to the person you met within a day and use it as an opportunity to remind them why you are a great fit for the job and reiterate your skills.

Interviewers typically see this hands-on approach as a sign of focus and interest in the position, so it’s an important step to take!