How to make the best first impression in your first interviews.
This is a guest post by Lavie Margolin.
The job market can be especially difficult for recent college grads. What do you have to say when you don’t have much work experience? How can you make your college experience seem relevant?
Read on for the 7 answers you need in order to get a job:
1. Tell me about your undergraduate university experience.
Why this question is being asked: To understand what you felt was memorable and important to share during the interview.
Strategy: Focus on experiences such as your coursework and extracurricular activities that would be important to the job.
Sample answer: “I majored in psychology. It allowed me to learn more about how people make decisions and deal with things. I improved my writing, communication and teamwork abilities. I was a member of the fencing team. I also participated in several extracurricular activities, including the Business Club and Social Action Committee.”
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2. If you were hiring a graduate for this position, what qualities would you look for?
Why this question is being asked: To gain a better understanding about what you know about the position as well as what you feel would be the essential skills and qualities for the job.
Strategy: Demonstrate your knowledge of the position requirements and emphasize some of your own strengths as being important for the position.
Sample answer: “I know that you would need someone with an excellent understanding of accounting principles in a non-profit environment. In addition to the knowledge gained in the classroom, it would be helpful to have some on-the-job and internship experience in the field. I would also want someone who is a team player, dependable and has a “can-do” attitude.”
3. Do you feel that your grades are a good indicator of your ability?
Why this question is being asked: To understand if you reached your full potential and if not, why.
Strategy: If you did not receive straight A’s, explain how you could have improved and why you didn’t meet your potential.
Sample answer: “I do believe that I had the ability to get an A in each class and since I did not, my GPA does not reflect my full capabilities. There were some missteps I made along the way, such as concentrating on the wrong areas before the test. I learned from my mistakes and improved. I think that the grades in my junior and senior years more fully reflect my capabilities.”
4. What do you like best about your school?
Why this question is being asked: To learn more about what interests you and how it may relate to the job.
Strategy: Focus on something that would be of value or interest to the interviewer.
Sample answer: “My school offered many chances to participate in social justice activities and I enjoyed partaking in them whenever I could. I helped to organize fundraisers, schedule trips to visit the elderly and mentor teenagers. It allowed me to gain confidence in my leadership abilities and become a better planner.”
5. Do you apply the skills and knowledge learned at school in your work?
Why this question is being asked: To understand what additional skills you have that would be valuable in the workplace.
Strategy: Focus on the relevant knowledge and skills you learned in the classroom.
Sample answer: “Yes, I was given a very solid foundation of understanding accounting principles that I utilize regularly as part of my job. Additionally, I learned some of the soft skills necessary to succeed in a work environment such as teamwork and communication skills.”
6. How do you think [name of your school]’s reputation is viewed when it comes to hiring?
Why this question is being asked: To learn how much you think the reputation of a school will help you to get a job versus having to prove yourself.
Strategy: Explain that while you the think that the name of a school has value for getting noticed, that the individual is the one that will be responsible for getting the job.
Sample answer: “[name of your school] does have a great reputation and having that name on my resume was probably helpful for getting the interview but it is up to the person to prove themselves. I believe that you really have to hire based on the candidate and not on the school.”
7. What is the best educational preparation for this career?
Why this question is being asked: To learn what you feel would be the best way to be prepared to enter the field.
Strategy: Emphasize what preparation you already have as the essential preparedness for the field, whether it be formal education, informal learning or on the job experience.
Sample answer: “I feel that there is no better preparation than learning on the job. This is why I completed 3 internships in the field to learn more about the culture and expectations of the field as well as to prove myself.”
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About the Author
Lavie is the author of Winning Answers to 500 Interview Questions, an Amazon Kindle #1 Best Seller for Job Interviewing. He founded LCJS consulting in 2003. Lavie uses his background in marketing and adult learning, his expert knowledge of LinkedIn and over a decade of experience in career coaching to help individuals and businesses identify and reach their goals. Lavie holds a B.S. degree in Marketing from Yeshiva University, and is studying towards an MA in adult learning at SUNY Empire State. He’s regularly quoted in mainstream media, having been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and CNN.com.
This article was part of the The $11K 8th Annual JobMob Guest Blogging Contest.