Thousands of college seniors have just a couple of months left before entering the world of rush-hour traffic, paid holidays and a steady paycheck.
Oh, right, you’ve got to land a job first, which means you’ve got to start interviewing.
Winning in an interview depends on a lot of factors, the most important of which is how you talk about yourself. Follow these six tips and you’ll have no problem impressing the hiring manager at your next interview:
1. Think of how others describe you. Talking about yourself can be awkward, especially in an interview. You don’t want to sound arrogant, but if you say too little about your career skills you risk sounding under qualified. When you can’t think of something to say, think of what others say about you. Looking at yourself from someone else’s point of view will allow you to talk about your good qualities without sounding narcissistic.
2. Less is more. It can be easy to go off on a tangent about something during an interview, but this can seriously impact how the interviewer perceives you. A good rule of thumb is to keep your answers about a minute long. Your interviewer will ask for more information if he wants it.
3. Be memorable (in a good way). Some hiring managers can see 10 or more job candidates a day, so it’s crucial that you make yourself stand out. A good way to do this is to quickly evaluate your interviewer. Look for pictures, books or awards to give you an idea of what interests her. Then, ask a question or make a comment, such as, “Oh, Truman Capote is one of my favorite authors. Have you read _____?” Engage the hiring manager on a personal level and she’ll be more likely to remember you.
4. Avoid clichés. Saying you’re hardworking, dedicated, a go-getter, etc. might seem like a surefire way to ace an interview, but those words are so overused they’ve become ineffective. Try to think of qualities that don’t get a lot of attention but are just as important in your industry. For example, a college grad applying for an entry-level sales position could talk about her strong public speaking skills.
5. Talk about yourself in terms of what the manager wants to hear. When a hiring manger says, “Tell me about yourself,” he doesn’t want to hear about your favorite NFL team or how you were captain of the debate team in high school. Rather, he wants you to describe yourself in terms of the job. The best way to do this is to talk about your most recent job or internship, your responsibilities, and how what you learned from past experience makes you a good fit for the position. Save the personal stories for lunches with coworkers.
6. Explain your working process. It’s always a good idea to let a hiring manager know how you function in a work environment. Whether you pick up on new information quickly or need a little more guidance when getting started, explaining your work process will give the interviewer a better idea of whether or not you’re a good fit for the company.