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11 interviewing success strategies for college graduates

11 interviewing success strategies for college graduates

By Mike True

Interviewing for your first job—or any job, for that matter—can be nerve-racking. But it doesn’t have to be! Here are 11 strategies to best prepare for your next interview.

Three employers interviewing an an applicant.


1. Research the company…thoroughly

Study their website. Know the mission, familiarize yourself with staff members and branch locations, learn what issues / projects they are focused on right now. Knowing these items will allow you to build rapport more quickly and will enable you to ask pertinent questions. The interviewer will see you have done your homework.

2. Study your resume

You should know your resume inside and out. Anything listed on your resume is fair game for the interviewer to probe. Speaking intelligently about your previous positions is key.

3. Know the job description inside out

If the description calls for certain skills or abilities, you need to demonstrate how you have the requisite skills to meet their needs and are a good fit for the position.

4. Practice

Mock interviews conducted through your Career & Professional Development Center are helpful. If you are unable to schedule an appointment, search the web for interview questions in your field and then have your roommate or family member ask them. Get comfortable with the questions and how you will respond to them. Practice several times, with or without others.

5. Prepare materials

Take multiple copies of your resume on distinct, quality paper. Take a padfolio to store your resumes. It should include a pen, a pad of paper for notes (take notes!), and professional cards if you have them. You may also want to keep a few tissues, eye drops, allergy medication, etc…in your purse or suitcoat.

6. Make a good first impression

You know the saying, “There’s never a second chance to make a good first impression.”

  • Pay attention to your appearance – clothing, hair, jewelry, piercings. You do not want anything to distract the interviewer(s) from your words and good ideas.
  • Enunciate your words well and slow your speech, if you have a habit of speaking fast.
  • Greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and a pleasant smile.
  • Repeat their name and ask how he or she is doing.
  • Make eye contact when you greet your interviewer and shake hands. Throughout the interview, make a point to have direct eye contact. It communicates confidence.

7. Watch your body language

Body language communicates whether you are confident, relaxed, nervous, or unsure of yourself. Walk with your shoulders back, not slouched forward. When you are seated, find a comfortable position for your legs and arms, and sit up straight. Listening carefully to your interviewer.

8. Tell good stories

Most likely, behavioral interviewing questions will be used. The questions seek to identify situations from your past and how you behaved or reacted to them. Past performance is an indicator of future conduct. Stories illuminate the mind of the interviewer and show how you handle pressure, work in a team, deal with irate customers, demonstrate creativity, etc. You may also wish to identify three or four words which describe you well. Ask friends and family for words they would use to describe you. Narrow the list and then use those words in the short stories you craft in preparation for the behavioral interviewing questions.

9. Ask questions

You are interviewing them also. Have a list of at least four or five questions that deal with issues such as clarifications on the job description, organization culture, what a typical work day looks like, future direction/vision, evaluations, promotions, professional development opportunities, community service, etc.

10. Know thyself

After the interview, if you realize you are not a good match for the position, do not try to make yourself into someone you are not. Be authentic and move on.

11. Follow up within 24 hours

Immediately after the interview, send a handwritten thank you note. If you absolutely cannot send a handwritten note immediately, send an email and follow up with a note. Simply thank the interviewer for their time and wish them well. Indicate your desire for the position, if you still really want it.

Messiah College is proud to offer career preparation services such as one-on-one career coaching, major and career exploration, internship programs and more through its Career and Professional Development Center. Students may contact for more information.