Part 1: Before the Interview

Generally, college students and young adults don’t have much experience interviewing — for internships and jobs, even for volunteer positions. The lack of experience often is magnified by self-doubt and “have I done enough?” internal discussions.

However, no experience should be no barrier to getting job opportunities. It’s the approach and attention to detail that matters.  So, let’s address “what not to do” in the interview process, so you can prepare right, avoid mistakes and shine. 

Starting with job hunt preparation – before you even know you’re going to be interviewing – following are common pre-Interview mistakes & how to correct them.

Social Media – Clean it Up!

Companies will research your social media presence, content and behaviors before interview, during or after interviews. 

  • Remove: Take down questionable photos/videos, tweets, content, tags. Time and again, people of every age lose interview or employment because their social media behavior is inappropriate or just plain stupid.
  • Showcase: Have a professional and positive online presence. Human Resources or hiring managers expect a good LinkedIn profile.  You can also showcase your work, opinions and interests on a personal website or blog.

Resumes – Don’t Be Sloppy

  • Typos & Formatting: Never, ever, ever have typos in a resume.  And formatting can’t be sloppy (margins, bullets, unreadable type face) – your resume will get tossed because you’ve created an impression you lack attention to detail.
  • Sync with Job Description: Look at the job description and tweak your resume so your experiences, or school projects/activities and even volunteer background is relevant. Look at the keywords in the job description and work those into your resume. 
  • Triplecheck: Never just rely on spellcheck — have professionals (friends and family) review your resume prior to sending it in to ensure it is tight and clean.

Cover Letters – Relevant & Strong

Applying for jobs often requires a cover letter, whether you’re applying online, through the mail, or dropping it off in person.  Strong cover letters are:

  • Well written and free of typos
  • Don’t rehash what’s on your resume. Sell yourself and explain why you’re a right fit for the position by connecting your experiences with what’s required in the job description.
  • Explain your future value and tell us about the positive characteristics and traits that will help you succeed. 

We’ll go over what comprises great cover letters in much more detail in a future blog.

Research – Prepare Thoroughly

By far, the most common and harmful mistake students and young adults make is not researching for interviews properly. You have to spend the time and effort to research and prepare so you impress interviewers with knowledge and insight.  but here’s top tips:

  • Know the company inside and out
  • Understand the job description, so you can tailor your resume and talking points to why you’re a great fit for the job. 
  • Learn about the people you’ll interview with. Ask HR reps or recruiters the names of people you’ll be interviewing with, so you can take a look at their LinkedIn profiles to understand their backgrounds and professional experience.
  • Research if you already have connections at the company. Do you know someone who’s worked there? Have you checked the company LinkedIn page to see if there are people in your network who are connected with others at the company? You can’t leverage relationships if you don’t spend the time finding out how you may already be connected.

Research and preparation will be another complete blog post with more detail. The next two blogs will cover common mistakes made in preparation for a scheduled interview, mistakes to avoid during the interview, and then the all-important follow plan that most people don’t have.

Remember this: have confidence in yourself, your abilities, your future!

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