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10 Job Interview Tips for Grad Students

No matter how many or how few you’ve done, job interviews can be nerve-wracking. Once you have succeeded in earning your advanced degree, you want to find a job that will take you further. As you start preparing for these interviews, we want to help you put your best foot forward. Here are our top ten tips to help you nail your next job interview:

Tip 1: Know your personal brand

As an experienced professional, you have likely had jobs before. Even if you want to change fields, this experience can be a selling point. In general, you want to think carefully about your personal brand. Know what sets you apart from other applicants and how you can communicate this to the interviewer. Come up with about three to four points that really describe your personal brand and how this brand would make you a good fit for this position.

Tip 2: Enter the interview with positive energy

Interviewing prospective employees is rarely a pursuit that companies look forward to. The interviewer could feel a bit sluggish, particularly if they have seen a lot of other candidates that day. Bring energy to create a strong, positive first impression. Let them know you feel enthusiastic and excited about this opportunity.

Tip 3: Anticipate behavior-based questions

These types of questions, such as “Describe an unpopular decision you made” or “Tell me about a mistake you made and how you handled it” tend to be very popular among interviewers. The idea is that they give the company some idea about how you conduct yourself and manage challenges. To them, it’s a gauge to determine how well you will fit in with the company culture. As you prepare for the interview, think about the behavior that the company would likely want to see from employees. Build your examples around these desires and create stories describing how these situations arose, what you did, and the corresponding result. Practice telling these stories before your interview, so you can be sure that you hit all the important points when the question arises.

Tip 4: Transform the interview into a meeting

Many interviewers expect the interview to go as a kind of tug-of-war. They expect the interviewee to spend their time trying to convince them why they should ‘give’ them the job, while they will look for reasons why they should ‘hold on to it.’ Turn this dynamic on its head through careful use of language. Suggesting that this is a meeting for everyone to learn more about this potential match can be a great way to get started. You are both on the same side — you want to see if this job will provide you with a good fit and they want to know if you have the qualifications needed to fill their position. Create a friendly dynamic based around evaluation instead of that tug-of-war.

Tip 5: Grab hold of the first five minutes

First impressions can make a tremendous difference, particularly when companies interview numerous candidates. People and answers start to blur together, but the impression you make in the first few minutes will likely last. This includes going through all of the common preparation steps, including arriving early, bringing copies of your resume and dressing professionally. It also requires paying attention to your body language. Making a positive comment about the company — and your understanding of the work they do — right off the bat can be very worthwhile as well.

Tip 6: Research the company beforehand

You want to make yourself appear invested in the prospective position. Researching the company beforehand can be helpful in this regard. Make sure you look beyond the job description. Look at the company website, track down their latest press releases to learn about their current and future projects, and uncover any other information you can find about their business. This will give you stronger talking points during your interview and help make your interest in the brand appear more genuine.

Tip 7: Think about the questions you want to ask

Most interviewers will give you an opportunity to ask questions about the position and the company. Take your time to prepare some questions in advance. Make sure that you review the job description as you write them to ensure that you do not ask any questions that the company already answered. Not asking questions can make it appear as though you are not very interested in the job. Devise questions that give you more insight into what the company wants to see, such as what their ideal candidate would look like or what their favorite part of working at the company is.

Tip 8: Prepare for the common “tell me about yourself” question

Most interviewers will also ask you to tell them about yourself. While you can certainly mention some of the highlights found in your resume, such as your education and work background, this question also provides you with an easy way to mention your selling points again. Review your brand points developed in Tip 1. Practice developing an “about me” narrative that incorporates these points into your dialogue.

Tip 9: End the interview on a positive note

Just like your first impression can make a difference in how the interviewer remembers you, so too can the last minutes of your interview. Let the interviewer know if the discussion has made you even more enthusiastic about the position. Voice again your desire for the job and your appreciation for taking the time to talk.

Tip 10: Follow up with a thank you note

Interviewers often consider several different candidates for the position, and a thank you note can be a great way to set yourself apart. This will let your interviewer know again that you have a high level of interest in the job. It will also give them an additional favorable impression of you, which can make a difference if the job comes down to just a few, similarly qualified candidates.
Attending job interviews can be enough to put even the most seasoned professional on edge. Preparing for these meetings in advance can help you put your new degree to work quickly. To learn more about how you can earn the graduate degree that will help land your dream job, consider the online programs from ACU Online. Contact us at 855.219.7300 or for more information.

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