Over the past 15 years, Rob Reid has mentored 80 graduates to get a job offer from their first interviews, with a 100 percent success rate. Here's what they're doing right.
When I applied to my first job out of college, I wasn’t as well prepared as I needed to be, and blew the interview. I didn’t get the job, which happened to be the dream agency I wanted to work for at that time. This wasn’t an easy pill to swallow. But, what I learned from personal challenge, I have used to help new graduates avoid repeating my experience – and nail interviews for their dream jobs.
Recent graduates are often told to focus on resume optimization and to highlight the most attractive accomplishments of their (mostly) limited professional and academic experiences. While emphasizing high GPAs, interesting studies and prestigious internships may get you in the door, it won’t get you an offer. In my own experience working with my mentees, I have found that the best advice for interviews is to reverse what most people do and demonstrate your potential, not your limited experience and resume.
Over the past 15 years, I have mentored 80 graduates, giving them the advice they need to be successful in their first interviews, in industries that range from software to pharmaceuticals, and positions in finance, sales, marketing, engineering, and more. I have a 100 percent success rate: Each of the 80 graduates have received a job offer from the first company they interviewed with.
Here are the secrets for a successful interview my mentees have used to obtain their dream jobs:
Do Your Research
Employers will look for the candidate who not only shows a passion and natural curiosity for their business, but also a candidate that’s willing to take the time to do dedicated research.
Do everything you can to learn about your prospective employer. Read all about the company – everything they publish. Understand what they do and how they do it. Be able to quote a thing or two a company leader (or your interviewer) has said. Before you go to the interview, ask yourself: How prepared am I to discuss the company’s business?
Ask (Many) Questions
Thoughtful questions demonstrate interest and give the company an idea of your analytical thought process. When preparing for the interview, ask yourself: How many questions do I have? What kinds of questions are they? In what order will I ask them? Asking a strategic mix of questions, not only about the company and its business, but also in response to the conversation during the interview, naturally shows off your research and ability to strategically string thoughts together on the fly.
Don’t be afraid to ask too many questions. In fact, ask questions about customers and competitors, too. This is your chance to get an idea for how the company thinks internally – beyond the external research you’ve already conducted.
Demonstrate Your Value
Show your prospective employer how you can leverage your knowledge – and curiosity – to contribute to the job at hand.
To show how you will bring the most value to the company, more than any other candidate, be careful to avoid simply selling yourself on past job experiences – that’s what other candidates will do. While discussing your knowledge and passion for the company’s business, demonstrate both how you fit into the business and how you will bring value to the company. Utilize your research and questions, mentioning select anecdotes from your own experience. Perhaps you can hone in on a particular challenge the company faces and ask if they’ve tried an approach that you’re familiar with. Share that experience.
While every interview and candidate is different, I have found that when mentees apply these principles to their interview techniques, no matter what the industry, they have received a job offer. However, the most important thing to remember is that even if you have limited experience, showing curiosity, understanding and a willing attitude demonstrates that you have what’s needed to thrive in business, setting you on a path for success.