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Recent College Graduates – Interview Expectations and Job Selection Advice

By Ken Sundheim

Why You Are Interviewing? The obvious answer to this question is that you need a job. However, this kind of thinking will land you at a company that you are not happy working at.   Instead, think of it this way: you are interviewing to decide what type of career and company suits you best. When it comes to recent college graduates, many companies take advantage of their inexperience and load the young professionals up with work no one else wants to do.  Don't let them tread all over you.  You have as much choice as they do as to whether or not you will be working at that particular company.

Unless you feel that it is the offer of a lifetime, you should not jump to sign your first offer letter. Be prepared to lose the job.  The worst case scenario is that the company decides to hire someone else and you have to look elsewhere.  It is far better to weigh your options than to get reeled into doing a job you hate just because you jumped at the first offer that came your way.

What Types of Jobs Are You Interviewing For? If you want to be an accountant then by all means, you should become an accountant. However, school is not like real life.   Just because you liked a class in college doesn’t mean that you will enjoy working in that field. Prior to going out and interviewing, do some research on various occupations you may find interesting. Find out what they pay, what the hours are, what the future of the industry holds, who are the major players as well as any other information you can dig up.

Salary Talk: When I just graduated from college, right before I started my business, I left the software company I was working for at the time to be an account manager for a company that sold checks. I left for an extra $7,000 a year. It was the worst career mistake I have ever made. If the company you work for is stable and has a good reputation, don't be too concerned with the base salary they are offering.  On the other hand, if a company is promising gold but is paying next to nothing, run the opposite way.

What If I Am Really Nervous During My Interview? That is fine; trust me. Graduating from college is a major life change.  It is scary – the way people talk about the “real-world” can put a lot of pressure on a young person. If you’re nervous, just be honest about it.  If the interviewer has any shred of decency in them, they will understand.  Just accept the fact that you are nervous and that it is a completely normal way to feel.  Getting nervous about something is a sign that it is important to you.  You should be nervous. If the interviewer is not sympathetic to the fact that interviewing is a little gut-wrenching for a recent college graduate, then you don’t want to work with that person anyway.

What Questions Am I Going to Be Asked? This depends on the actual person who interviews you. If they are smart, they will have an honest conversation with you.  If you get stuck with someone who insists on using conventional interviewing techniques, they will probably ask you about your strengths and weaknesses, why you think you would be a good fit for the position and what you have to bring to the company  If you want to prepare for cookie-cutter questions like these, make sure your answers are unconventional.  Take risks.  If you don't, you will be indistinguishable from everyone else.

Read other articles and learn more about Ken Sundheim.

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