“My son is a great job candidate! He went to a good school and is graduating with a strong GPA. He has gone on over 30 interviews for entry-level jobs. But somehow, he is not progressing to the next round. He says he is prepared, but I have no idea what he is really saying in a job interview. What should he do? How can I help him?”
This is the theme of parent calls recently. On paper, the student or grad meets the job requirements, gets the initial interview, but cannot seem to progress to the next round in the interview process.
How can grads improve their interview techniques to get the job? Countless conversations with our clients, their parents and recruiter feedback helped us hone in on the mistakes grads make and why they do not move forward to the next step in the hiring process.
1. Too Casual
In an effort to connect and be friendly, college grads sometimes speak to the interviewer like a friend. “Hey! How’s it going? Catch the game last night?” It is fine to make small talk, but it is important to keep it short and professional. Even if the contact is a family friend who offered to consider the candidate for the job, always err on the side of being more formal and polite, and show exceptional professionalism in an office setting. And always wear business attire.
Interviews are stressful and it can be hard to predict the questions asked. Like throwing spaghetti on the wall, students will keep talking and over-explain their experiences to see what sticks. Most interviewers will stop listening if you do not keep their attention. The idea is to keep the answers on point and concise. Saying more is not always better. Plan and practice answers in advance. Preparation is essential.
3. Not Listening to the Question
An interviewer may ask about a specific skill and your ability to do that skill. For example, “Can you provide an example of how you solved a problem?” A candidate might share their experience of working on a team or analyzing data but they fail to relate their explanation to the specific question. It is important to understand the question asked, demonstrate strong listening skills, and respond in a thoughtful and informative manner to convince someone you are the best candidate for the job. The best way to know if the question was answered is to say, “Does that answer your question sufficiently?”
4. Lack of Research
It is practically guaranteed that an employer will ask, “What do you know about our company?” The answer should show that you did your homework and understand what the company is focused on and why you want to work there. Asking what the company is about is not the best way to start. Make sure to research the leadership, current news about the company and industry, and have a clear understanding of what the job entails.
No matter how stellar a resume, 90% of employer decisions are based on the interview. When interview skills and techniques are practiced in mock interviews a candidate improves their chance of success. College grads are figuring out this process and the more that parents that can practice with them, the better the outcome. If you are looking to help your student or college grad with landing an entry-level job out of college, we invite you to learn more at Next Great Step.