How to Nail Your First Post-College Interview

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After all of the hard work you put into earning your online degree – whether it’s from our Bachelor of Science in Accounting program to our Bachelor of Science in Marketing degree, or any of our online BS degrees in between – it’s time to put your job experience and education to good use in your first, post graduate interview.

Talking with a recruiter or a future manager can be nerve wracking – but if you walk in prepared, you’ll likely feel calmer and in control. Read the following tips to learn how to make the most of each interview situation to help you land your dream job.

A young woman passes her resume to an interviewer

Before Your Interview

Good news! With an interview scheduled, a company wants to know more about you. Find an outfit that makes you feel confident, make extra copies of your resume and the job description before you embark. To make the strongest first impression, follow these tips to prepare you for your interview:

Check their online presence

With each company you’re interested in talking with, check out their LinkedIn profile. This job networking site shows who in your network works, or has worked, at the company. It can be a great way to learn more about your potential employer.

Review interview questions

Preparing answers to your interview questions may be essential to success, as many interviewees find that this step helps improve interview performance. Review your resume to find examples of how you accomplished a task – and relate it to the posted job. Many career sites, like The Muse, list out top interview questions to help you nail your interview. Not sure how to answer some of these questions? Many of these prompts also offer sample answers, which you can use to construct your own answer. You don’t need to memorize your answers verbatim. Instead, jot down bullet points that will keep you on track – that way, you can still sound natural when you answer your questions during the interview. If you want to read up on industry news, tips and tricks to further prepare, check out the UAB resources page as well.

Verify transportation

Use Google Maps to verify the best way to get to the interview location, and make sure you account for rush hour traffic. If you’re using public transit, make sure you map your route to avoid delays or getting lost. Driving? Double check with your interviewer about the best places to park and if you need a parking pass. This can make the hours leading up to your interview less stressful and keep you feeling confident.

The day-of Interview

The interview process is made of many steps. You could have an interview with a recruiter or with the company’s own HR team. Here are tips to help you nail both types of interviews:

When it’s a recruiter

Recruiters, colloquially known as headhunters, can specialize in different industries. The benefit for online graduates is that a recruiter can match you with an employer who is looking for your technical skills. In addition, recruiters serve as your middle man, so you can communicate details regarding salary and any questions you have to them. As The Muse noted, the recruiter has an intimate knowledge of the company – so feel free to ask about the best way to make a good impression with the manager.

When it’s with HR

There are many commonalities between an HR and recruiter interview. However, when speaking to an HR manager at the company you want to work for, research is critical. The head of Human Capital Management at Goldman Sachs noted that doing your homework on the business, as well as the greater industry, can set you apart in an interview. Check out the company’s blog and find initiatives that the business is carrying out that get you excited – enthusiasm and passion go a long way in an interview.

When it’s a group interview

Managers may suggest a group interview as the first round in the process. Why? It’s a great opportunity for them to see how candidates interact with one another and how they stand out. You can shine in this interview process by understanding the qualities outside of the job description. What is the culture of the company like? What personalities thrive in this environment? Arrive a few minutes early to your interview and chat with your fellow candidates. You’ll likely find you each bring a different set of experiences to the job – which can show that there is no one “perfect” candidate for a job.

Different Ways to Interview

Interviewers can be conducted through multiple methods of communication – from phone interviews to video conferencing to in-person. Each mode of communication requires some minor changes to your delivery to highlight why you’re the best person for the job. Check out the tips below for each type of interview:

When it’s on the phone

Many companies offer phone interviews as the first step. If you have a phone interview scheduled, fully charge your phone before you begin. Seek out a quiet space at home (coffee shops are tricky because of the amount of background noise and the potential for distraction).

Even though it’s on the phone, dress professionally. This will help keep you in the work mindset. Sit at a desk or a workspace instead of your couch or bed – this can help you stay alert when answering questions.

Smile! Our voices sound different when we smile as we speak, which can affect your tone. You can sound more positive and portray yourself as a confident individual who is perfect for the job with this small change, noted.

When it’s on video conference

More employers are turning to video conference for first round interviews, John Butterfield, a recruiter, told The Telegraph UK. If you’re looking to relocate to a different city, this free video chat service can be a great way for employers to get to know you better. Conducting an interview via camera presents challenges as well. Show you’re engaged by looking into the camera, which mimics making direct eye contact with your interviewers, The Telegraph suggested. You can also nod as the other person speaks to reinforce that you are engaged.

Log on a few minutes before your interview begins to make sure your microphone functions and your camera is on. Pay attention to the background of your office or bedroom! Take down any distracting photos or tapestries, so your interviewers can learn more about you without looking over your shoulder.

Another benefit of interviewing via video conference? You can keep your notes on the company, the job itself and your interviewer handy. suggested leaving a list of questions next to your computer along with your resume. This can combat interview nerves by knowing you don’t have to memorize your questions. The result could leave you more focused and alert to staying present.

When it’s in person

In-person interviews can make anyone nervous – but they are the perfect opportunity for you to learn more about the company. Before you step through the doors of the building, make a list of important attributes to you. Is collaboration an important aspect of work life for you? Take note of your surroundings: Is the office an open floor plan or is it divided up into cubicles? How are employees dressed? These observations can guide your questions during your interview.

If you’re still battling nerves, step into a secluded area and complete a series of power poses. These poses are known as nonverbal expressions and can convey confidence. In her TED talk, Harvard researcher Amy Cuddy suggested poses that let you take up space. One pose involves placing your feet shoulder width apart and holding your hands on your hips like Wonder Woman. The second requires you to stretch your arms out.

“It’s possible that when you pretend to be powerful, you are more likely to actually feel powerful,” Cuddy explained.

Putting on a confident pose can affect how others perceive you and could help you nail that job interview. In addition, don’t be afraid to be genuine. Research shows that individuals who behave authentically can endear their interviewers.

After Your Interview

It’s the new norm to send a thank you email. Some industry professionals, like in publishing for instance, may prefer shoutouts on Twitter. If you are speaking with multiple individuals, ask for each of their business cards. A thank you email can convey your willingness to go the extra mile – a positive attribute in any job candidate.

It may also be tempting to check in consistently with your recruiter or your contact from HR. You can ask when candidates will hear about next round interviews before you leave to ease your anxiety – and then let your interview and your resume stand for itself.

Enjoy the Experience

An interview is a great way for employers to learn more about you. No one knows your work experience like you – and don’t forget about your education experience in our wide range of online bachelor’s degree programs. UAB faculty and fellow students can be excellent assets as you prepare for your future career, so make sure you leverage all your available resources. For example, you can reach out to the career center at The University of Alabama at Birmingham to help you prepare.