Landing your first post-graduate interview is an exciting feat. Whether you’ve found your dream career or you’re simply pursuing a new opportunity, you want to enter the room feeling confident.
If you’ve done informational interviews, you may already have a sense of how you need to prepare. However, there are always unknowns, from the specific questions you’ll be asked to the mood and dynamic in the room. This can make interviews intimidating, even for experienced job searchers.
This short guide covers the seven concrete actions you can take to feel prepared and comfortable for your post-grad interview.
#1: Brainstorm Questions and Answers
You know an interview is all about your answers. While you can’t know the questions in advance, feeling prepared for common interview questions will help. Look at the job ad and brainstorm potential questions based on the desired qualifications. Prepare stock answers for common questions like the following:
- Why are you interested in this job?
- Describe your past experience.
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
While you don’t want to sound robotic, practicing answers several times can help you feel confident and natural when these questions arise.
#2: Try a Mock Interview
If you’ve never had an interview before, you’re likely wondering how you’ll deal with the nerves. While some people are naturals, most of us need practice and preparation to excel at the art of interviewing.
A mock interview can help you develop this skill. Our top tips are:
- Have a friend or mentor ask you the questions you’ve already brainstormed.
- Replicate the setting. If it’s a video interview, talk over video. If it’s in an office, see if you can use a room on campus. Even better, go all-out and wear your interview clothes for the practice run.
- Keep to a time limit similar to the real interview (usually less than 30 minutes). Then, debrief with your mock-interviewer after the session.
#3: Know How to Get There
There’s nothing more stressful than driving around an unfamiliar neighborhood on interview day. Likewise, if you’re using Zoom for the first time, you may struggle to enter the meeting room or use the whiteboard.
Be sure you practice getting to your interview, whether it’s down the block or on the web.
#4: Dress for Success
Looking good has several benefits. It helps you feel your best, plus it conveys professionalism.
Hopefully, you’ve done informational interviews and researched the company’s culture, so you have a sense of what to wear. If not, err on the side of formality—it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed.
In addition to your smartest business or business casual attire, choose accessories that show your personal style, like men’s leather watches or women’s statement jewelry. These little pieces can make you seem more confident, unique, and memorable.
#5: Get Centered
It’s normal to have nerves on the day of an interview.
Do you already have self-soothing strategies to help you get relaxed and energized? If not, try out the following:
- Get a good night’s sleep beforehand. We know it’s no easy task!
- Eat a superfood-powered breakfast.
- If you have time before the interview, get some exercise.
- Meditate for five to ten minutes before you leave.
- Stand in a “power pose” if you have some privacy.
- Take a whiff of a calming essential oil before the interview begins.
Is there some other way you connect with yourself and get centered? Whatever it is, make time for it on interview day.
#6: Be Yourself
When the interview begins, it’s normal to feel some lingering nervousness. Hopefully, your jitters will dissolve after the first few questions.
Keep in mind that you’ll be happiest if you work at a company where you can be yourself. Be authentic and stay positive! If you realize you flubbed a question, don’t panic. You could even follow up at the end of the interview when they ask if there’s anything else you want to add.
#7: Don’t Forget the Thank-You Note
After the interview is over, you may feel a little bit of an adrenaline crash. That’s natural. But don’t forget to follow up with a thank-you note within 24 hours.
Here’s our go-to post-interview protocol:
- Write a separate note to each person who interviewed you.
- Try to personalize these notes, remarking on specific questions or conversations.
- Express your continued enthusiasm and interest in the job.
After you’ve followed up once, hold tight. You don’t want to seem overeager or pushy, especially because candidate searches can unfold across widely varying timelines. Just be patient!
Persistence and Preparation
Landing your first job out of college can take time. If you find you need more practice, double up on preparation (even when you don’t have an interview coming up). Your work will pay off later. Treat every interview as a learning experience. As you practice, your skills will grow, and your chances of nailing your dream job will increase.
Good luck with your job search!