Looking for a Job? Here are interview tips for soon-to-be graduates

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By Annika Tomlin

Graduation is right around the corner, so it’s time to job hunt. Tips on job hunting and interviewing are always welcome, so we talked with Karen Stafford, president of the Arizona Employers Council.

Stafford trains businesses on how to interview people like you. This is your chance to learn behind-the-scenes tips, as she’s listed her top five dos and don’ts when it comes to getting a job out of college.

Top 5 Dos:

  1. Look at your network

Stafford suggests casting a wide network that includes family members, professors and instructors. Also, include current coworkers and see who they know. Be open about your abilities and desires. Ask those people about their job, their likes, and dislikes and what advice they would have for you.

  1. Determine what makes you special

How do you approach work? Are you a great problem solver or super organized? What makes you stand out from the rest of the applicants?

  1. Do your homework

Research the companies you’d like to work for. What is it about that industry that attracts you? Learn about the work environment and culture and determine if it aligns with your desires. Look at the company’s challenges and see how you can contribute to it.

  1. Practice interview questions

If the job ad requires that you have customer service skills, or that you have attention to detail, you are likely to be asked how you possess those skills. Plan responses before the interview to relieve your jitters. You might be asked a behavioral question that will determine if your past experiences match with the company’s work environment.

  1. Follow up

This may sound old school or out of date but following up puts you higher up on the hiring manager’s radar. You may have aced the interview and then are waiting to hear from the company. Take that time to write a handwritten note or type an email thanking them for their time and you’re looking forward to hearing back. Don’t forget to reiterate your skills and how they will help the company.

Top 5 Don’ts:

  1. Don’t give up

It may take several interviews to get that job offer. If it’s a job you really want, perseverance matters. Don’t give up. Try applying at other places and keep at it.

  1. Don’t seem unprepared

This goes back to the practice interview questions. Prepare for any interview like it’s your Oscar moment. You’ve done the homework. You know everything about the job—or at least as much as you can learn from the job posting—and the company. Use that info to the best of your ability.

  1. Don’t get caught unaware

As soon as you list your phone number on an application, you could get a call from a recruiter who wants to interview you on the spot. If you are caught off guard and ask to reschedule that doesn’t look good. Plus, you’re asking the recruiter to work around your schedule. It’s OK if you need to step outside or call the person back in a few minutes. But be prepared for that call.

  1. Don’t be late

If you are scheduled for an in-person interview, do not arrive late. Do a test run before the interview to figure out parking, checking in, etc. Ask the recruiter if there are specific parking and arrival instructions you need to follow. The last thing you want is to arrive on time and have to park half-mile away and have to run back to the building.

  1. Don’t be underdressed

Learn about how the company’s staff dresses. Look at its website and read about the work environment. Is the company super casual? Or is it more formal? Tradition calls for dressing a little more formal than the company’s standard. Do not show up underdressed.

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