by Abbey Klever
Are you ready to begin your post-collegiate job search but feeling unsure about the entire process? I can relate. That’s exactly how I felt when my time at the University of Cincinnati came to an end in 2017. I gained an immense amount of valuable knowledge at UC; however, I was lacking experience with interviewing and job seeking. I struggled to figure out where to begin and how to truly engage in successful interviews with potential employers. I landed a job in recruitment after college, and I have continued to advance my career in the recruitment field ever since. Throughout my career, I’ve had quite a bit of experience interviewing new college graduates and interns. I’m hoping that I can provide you with some insight I would have found valuable as I began my career search.
Communication graduates have a unique experience in their post-grad career search because there are so many different career paths you can choose to take with your degree. When I began my job search, I applied to a wide variety of positions, and I interviewed with every company that offered me an interview. By doing that, I was able to narrow down what I was looking for in a job. If you’re not sure what type of positions to apply to, my advice would be to throw a large net. Apply to any job you see posted that you find interesting. Apply to a range of jobs and always say yes to interviews as you begin your search. At the end of the day, if you interview for a position and decide you don’t like it, you’re still gaining interview experience and sharpening your skills for the next potential interview. Like most anything in life, the more you interview, the more comfortable you will become.
I can provide a few interviewing tips to think about as you prepare for future interviews. However, it is important to keep in mind that interviews are subjective, and there’s no set-in-stone advice that will work for all recruiters and hiring managers across the board. This advice is simply based on my own personal experience interviewing and interacting with new college graduates and potential interns:
Give positive responses to interview questions
Don't speak negatively about past internships or positions. Never go into an interview and trash talk your current employer, no matter how bad you think your current position is. I always suggest people to simply say "I've learned a lot at my current job, but I feel like I've maxed out my position and I'm ready for a new challenge.” Leave the negative energy at the door.
Understand your strengths and weaknesses
Really take the time to think about these so you're able to talk about them comfortably during an interview. Everyone has things they can work on. If they ask about weaknesses, think about simple things that you could work to improve and briefly mention how you're pushing yourself to be better about that particular trait. On the flip side, don't be afraid to brag on yourself and talk about your strengths, no matter how weird or award it might feel. An interview is your time to confidently talk about yourself and your skillset (without sounding cocky), so don't be too shy or humble to talk about the things you're really good at.
Talk about your soft skills
These are important and often overlooked when discussing skills so don't forget to talk about your strengths in this area as well.
Always ask questions
Come to each interview with a list of questions you want to ask, research the company and interviewer and ask them specific questions. Don't ask general questions like "do you like working here?" rather, really dig in based on the research you've done on the company and interviewer. This shows that you really are invested in getting the position.
Show up early. I usually get to interviews about 30 minutes early and wait in my car. Try not to go into the building until 15 minutes prior to the interview in respect of their schedules. Dress the part, bring extra copies of your resume, bring something to take notes on, and always follow up with a "thank you” email whenever you have their contact information.
Ask for next steps
At the end of an interview, always ask what the next steps are. That shows that you're a go-getter and excited about the position. Something along the lines of "I really enjoyed talking with you and learning more about XYZ Company" or “I'm excited about the opportunity, what are the next steps in the process?" is usually effective to keep yourself on the hook with them.
Don’t let rejection slow your momentum
Rejection is part of the job search, don't let it shake your confidence. If it's the right fit and the right time, it will work out. Looking back, I'm actually thankful for a lot of the companies that have turned me down, because I know now it probably wouldn't have been the best fit for me at the time. Understand that rejection isn’t personal, it is simply part of the process of searching for a new position.
I can certainly give you interview tips from a recruiter’s point of view until I’m blue in the face, but my best advice is to be confident in yourself and what you bring to the table. If you’re really not sure what it is you bring to the table, spend time critically thinking about that. Talk with your advisors, managers, professors, and classmates to gain insight on what you bring to the classroom or workplace.
Each of us have unique skills that we developed throughout our collegiate experience. Find yours and truly home in on them.