12 Tips For College Grads Class of 2012
Secret: (The Interviewer Wants You To Be Great)
Good news for the class of 2012! The job market has improved over last year and college grads will be hired more this year than last year. That being said, the competition is fierce and if you want the job, you need to help the interviewer hire you!
What do I mean by that?
Well, think about it. How long does the interviewer spend with you in the interview? It’s common for first interviews to last anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour. You have had four years of college education loaded with projects and papers, one or more internships, and most likely some work experiences. The interviewer has 30 minutes to 1 hour to find out if those education experiences, internships, and work experiences have given you the skills that match what the company is looking for.
Add to that, the personal attributes they are seeking and there is no way an interviewer can find out everything they need to know about you in 30 minutes to an hour! It’s up to you to…HELP THEM HIRE YOU!
Let’s look at the situation. The interviewer comes to the interview armed with criteria and the need for information about you. You come to the interview with all your knowledge, skills, experiences, and personal attributes and want to prove you are a great candidate for the job. Now I have been recruiting for many years and I can assure you that the interviewer wants you to be great. Whenever, I go out to greet a candidate in the waiting area, I am thinking, no, actually I am praying: “I hope this candidate is great, then I can move on to fill my next position.”
Here is the caveat: The interviewer wants to learn about you and they can only do that through hearing about your stories of your experiences. Your experiences are specific to you and they make you unique. They tell the employer why YOU are a great fit for the job. The interviewer may not remember your name but they will remember you by your stories.
Here are 12 tips to be great and HELP THEM HIRE YOU!
1. Decode the job description. Decoding the job description is a skill I teach all my college students and new grads. Read the job description 3 times. Once to get an overview. Twice to look for knowledge, skills, and attributes, and the third time to circle each skill, attribute, and education requirement. What you have circled is what the interviewer will be looking for in the answers you give to their questions.
2. Read the company’s entire website. Here you will find clues about the type of people that work there, things that are happening within the company, the latest news and bios of leadership and more. You should get a feel for the company’s culture as well. Be sure to thoroughly read the careers section, as here you will often find more skills and attributes desired.
3. Look for the interviewer and other key execs of the company on LinkedIn and Twitter. It’s always helpful to know something about whom you will be interviewed by. LinkedIn will give you insight to their career progression. Twitter may give you info on what they are interested in and also info about the company. Many companies are committed to social responsibility, you may learn more about that on twitter.
4. Match your knowledge, skills, and attributes to the requirements. List each skill, attribute and education requirement. This is you beginning to identify how you fit the position. Next to each skill, attribute, and education requirement write what you have that matches it.
5. Build Your Stories. Next to each skill, attribute, and education requirement, write the experience/story that you have that describes how you have that requirement. Each story has the STAR component. S=situation: describe the situation, T=task: what did you have to do? A=action: what action did you take?, R=result: what was the result you achieved.
Example: Skill: excellent customer service,
Story: resolving the complaints of a customer who
Was angry that the item she bought broke.
To complete this, write out the entire story using STAR.
6. Have a minimum of seven stories. If you have 7 stories that cover all the skills, attributes, and education criteria, you should be able to answer any question the interviewer asks you. Repeat # 4 and # 5 for every skill, attribute, and education requirement.
7. Compose your 30-second commercial. This is the answer to tell me about yourself. It should include: Who you are, what you have done, what your strengths are, and what you are looking for. It should speak to the job description.
8. Practice your 30-second commercial. That’s right. Practice saying your 30-second commercial in front of the mirror 100 times until you have it down. Even if you forget some of it when answering the question, practicing it will allow you to get most of it out.
9. List your strengths that match the job description. Forget strengths, like I am a hard worker, or I like working with people. Interviewers are tired of those and they don’t tell anything about you. You have a lot of strengths, but it’s important to pinpoint yours as they relate to the job description. Make a note of which of your 7 stories proves that you have each strength.
10. Know your weakness. Forget weaknesses that everyone says like, I am a perfectionist. The interviewer wants to know that you know what challenges you have and how you work around them. One of my clients was president of her sorority, and she noticed that she made decisions too quickly with less than great outcomes. Knowing that about herself, she now forces herself to sleep on a decision before she acts. As a result, she makes better decisions now. She had a story that depicted how she realized this challenge and how she made the change. This was a memorable answer that showed her insight to herself and her ability to make changes.
11. Prepare questions for the interviewer in advance. Write out questions for the interviewer before you go to the interview. This is the answer to “What questions do you have for me?” It is okay to say that you did some research before the interview and wrote a few questions down. It shows your interest.
12. Always tell the truth. You must always tell the truth. Use real stories of real experiences. Most often you will get follow up questions to your answers and if your story isn’t real it will be obvious to the employer.
So how does this HELP THE INTERVIEWER HIRE YOU?
When your stories depict the skills, attributes, and education criteria that match the job, you make it easy for the interviewer to see that you are a perfect fit for the job. The interviewer doesn’t have to work hard to figure out if you have what is needed, you will be highlighting it the whole time during the interview. Your stories will create a memory of you long past the interviewer. So don’t wait for the interviewer to do all the work. Do it for them and HELP THEM HIRE YOU!