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03/20/2014

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10 Job Interview Tips for New Grads

Spring Break is over, and for college seniors the last few months of school will fly by. Graduation can be one of the most exciting times, but also one of the most confusing. Spring is the time of year when students scramble to figure out what to do next. At Kavaliro, we meet with students from all over the country looking to make their first step into the working world. While every business is different in the specific skillsets they look for, there are some skills and attributes that are sure to impress every employer. You accomplished the first step, which is making your resume stand out enough to be selected, but the actual job interview is your next (and most important) chance to shine from the competition. Here are a few tips to help!

10. Be Punctual
Being on time is a basic skill that goes a long way. You should never keep a potential employer waiting; they will not want to hear any of your excuses. Being anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes early is an easy way to start the interview on a positive note. Kavaliro’s Managing Partner, Bill Peppler, suggests driving to the location the night prior, especially if it’s out of town, to make sure you are aware of your surroundings.

9. Dress for Success
You can’t redo a first impression with a future employer so make the first look great! Jacksonville Resource Manager, Jackie Grahame says, “The way you look is actually a critical factor in the decision making process. You can set the tone with your appearance before the interview even begins.” Even if a company’s attire is business casual on a daily basis, don’t attempt to dress like them because you haven’t been hired yet. Dress as a business professional, it shows that you are prepared to take on the most superior of tasks.

8. Clean Up Your “Social Resume”
In today’s world of social media, you never know when an employer may check on how you present yourself online. Graduates should make sure they are putting their best foot forward in person, but also on the web. With so many companies using social media to connect with their clients and customers, it is impressive for a company to see you are present on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

7. Come Prepared
When interviewing for a new position, there is no such thing as being too prepared. There are a number of materials you can bring to show your prior experience that will be relevant to the current open position. Even if you send a copy of your resume, you should always come with multiple copies as you may be interviewed by multiple people. Any documents or projects that were well received from past internships or professors are always great for an employer to see. If you’re interviewing for a sales job and have a prior sales pitch from a project in school, you can go the extra mile to adapt it to the specific company. This shows initiative and knowledge of the business.

6. Focus on Key Accomplishments
 In your interview, you may be asked about your responsibilities and duties at your previous jobs or internships. While it is important to point out key tasks that will be helpful in the potential position, be sure to mention any of your notable accomplishments within your answer. Kavaliro’s Orlando Operations Manager, Stephanie Bruha explains, “We all know what a receptionist does, but what made you the best receptionist your team has ever had?”

5. Do Your Research
“Do your research, you will ALWAYS be asked in one way or another, what you know about the company,” says Kaity Ostrowsky, Resource Manager for Kavaliro Orlando.  The internet is a wonderful resource to learn just about anything before going into your interview. Knowing the company’s current happenings, and of course the actual job description, can be used to correlate your past experience with tasks you may be given in the position being hired for. Kavaliro’s Charlotte Director of MSP Delivery, Josh Ridgeway suggests getting to know the person who will be conducting the interview. “Ask who you will be interviewing with,” Ridgeway says. “Do some research on LinkedIn about this person and see if there are any common interests, such as college or social organizations. This can be a good ice breaker before the interview even starts.”

4. Ask Questions
While this may not be a deciding factor in their decision, employers will be impressed to hear what you’re looking to learn about the job. A good plan is to go in to an interview with at least one creative question, to demonstrate your curiosity and eagerness. Your questions may range from “Do you have a timeline for when you would like to fill this position,” to more in depth inquiries like, “If I were to start tomorrow, what would be my first task?” This will show that you came prepared, and that you are interested and engaged in the details of the position.

3. Speak Clearly
Using the correct terminology in an interview is very important. One skill that will impress an employer is being able to translate how your experiences, both academic and extracurricular, have prepared you for the position in which you’re interviewing for. You can do this by utilizing words in the job description. For example, if you're a theater major, describe how you managed and promoted a play or musical production using your project management, creativity and sales skills.

2. Be Yourself
An interview is your time to shine. If you’re new to the interview process, don’t be afraid to be yourself. Company culture is a top priority to growing businesses. Certain technical skills can be taught, but having interpersonal or soft skills make you stand out to an employer. Kavaliro’s Charlotte Resource Manager, Ryley Fitzsimmons says, “With so many others with similar skills, employers often choose the candidate they'd like to work with on a day-to-day basis.”

1. Follow Up
Following up is essential. You should never feel like you are pestering a company, but rather know that you are showing interest. A genuine thank you note is one way to show your appreciation for the interview and interest in the job. “Post-interview, send a thank you letter no less than 24 hours after the interview. In the letter, thank the manager(s) for their time, point out how you are a match, and use specific items mentioned during the interview to demonstrate your were actively engaged in the interview,” says David Gilcher, Kavaliro’s Orlando Lead Resource Manager. “You always want to stand out to the company for good reason. A thank you letter is one of the best ways to do that.”

An important thing to remember is that everyone started somewhere. Many new graduates have issues being excited about an entry level role because they feel it is beneath them or the work isn’t as exciting. The point of each interview is to impress the hiring managers in order to move forward in the selection process. You may not ace every interview, but you can use each one as a learning experience for future opportunities. As the process moves forward, you may find the position and the company are exactly what you’re looking for. Remember, your first position is the launching platform for the rest of your career. If done correctly from the beginning, it can only go up from there. Good luck and congratulations on graduating!

Kavaliro Employment Agency has offices in Tampa, Fla., Charlotte, N.C., Orlando, Fla., Washington, D.C., and Jacksonville, Fla. and can make sure you find the right people for this important role. We are ready and waiting to help you anytime and look forward to hearing from you.

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