By Prof. John DeSpagna
You are on your first job interview out of college and one of the questions you will probably be asked is, “Why should I hire you?” In order to successfully obtain the job you want after graduating from college, you will have to be ready for the job interview. This is a skill set that you can improve on with practice, so why not start working on this now.
In previous articles, I have written about developing your five-year plan, understanding what your 401k benefits are and why your credit score is important. Being prepared for the job interview is another step on the path to success.
Before you go on the job interview, you need to be prepared. Learn about the company ahead of time by talking to employees or go to their web sites. Make sure you bring at least five extra copies of your resume because a team of employees may interview you.
You also need to clean up your Facebook site. Yes, employers do go online and learn about you from your Facebook site. Facebook is your autobiography. Clean it up! Do you have privacy settings in place?
When you meet the interviewer, make sure you shake hands firmly. You also need to make eye contact and say the interviewer’s name. Eye contact is important and the interviewer will also be looking at your body language.
During the interview, the company will be looking to create a good match between a job candidate and their firm. They will be asking questions and probing further with follow up questions to see if you have the core competencies a company is looking for. Do you have a good work ethic and do you use sound judgment?
Some of the questions they may ask include:
What is the best job you ever had?
What is the worst job you ever had? Do not say anything negative about an employer. My worst job was at Shea Stadium and included wheeling out the garbage bins after the game. I told the interviewer that I knew things could only get better from there on out.
What is your greatest strengths and weaknesses? Turn the weakness into strength!
What motivates you?
What is your five-year plan?
How are you going to help this organization?
You should also have some specific examples ready that emphasize some of your skills. Some of these questions may include:
Tell me about a time you went the extra mile? This emphasizes your work ethic.
How you made a big decision? This shows sound judgment.
A time that something did not go according to a plan? This shows adaptability
Some of the points you may want to talk about include some experiences you have had in travel, volunteering and experiences that will make you an asset to the organization.
At the end of the interview, you are probably going to be asked, “Do you have any questions?” You have to be prepared for this question and have several questions ready to ask. If you do not come prepared with any questions, you are telling the interviewer that you are not interested in the job. Do not make this mistake. Do not ask about compensation; let the organization bring this up first.
Upon leaving the interview, ask the interviewer for their card, thank them and ask them about the next step in the interview process. Be aggressive and tell them you will contact them in one week so you can arrange for a starting date. Send out an email immediately after the interview thanking them for the opportunity to interview.
Follow up in one week with a phone call. I interviewed with Merrill Lynch for a position and told the interviewer, “I will call in one week.” One week later, I called and was offered the job. No one else called and the manager said he wanted to hire someone who really wanted to work for the organization.
If you really want a job, you need to have the skill set, experience and interview skills to get the job. Be prepared, aggressive and let the interviewer know that you really want the job.
John DeSpagna is a business professor at Nassau Community College in Garden City, New York.