College may have given you the knowledge, but did it prepare you to ace the interview?
So, you've just graduated from college ‒‒ congratulations! You've spent a few years learning and growing, and hopefully, you're now feeling ready to start the next chapter in your life. Typically, that means it's time to start your job search.
Of course, college has given you a number of tools that you will use throughout your life, but let's remember that the college experience is really about preparing you for the “real world.” So, has college really done its job of helping you find your job? Well, yes and no.
We've already taken a look at the ways college prepared you for professional job interviews, but despite all this, there are a few areas where it may have taught you the wrong lessons. Most importantly, college normalizes certain leniencies that just don't fly in a professional setting. Get out of these habits quickly, because while they may have gotten you through school, they won't get you through an interview.
You can't get away with not doing the homework
Whether you prioritized other work or simply needed some sleep, we all forwent the assigned reading at some point. You got what you needed from the lecture, right? This may have worked while you were in school, but not anymore.
When it comes to a job interview, the required reading is actually required ‒‒ and we mean it this time. Doing your homework and researching the company before your interview is essential. By investing the time in learning about your potential new workplace, you'll be able to gain an idea of both the way they approach their work and their company culture. Plus, when it's time for you to ask your own questions, you can demonstrate your interest and proactiveness by showing that you took it upon yourself to be informed.
You can't fake your way through the exam's essay question
Restating the prompt in different ways, adding too many synonymous adjectives, listing the few details you do remember whether they were relevant or not — we all had our strategies for getting around that essay question that caught us off guard. It's possible that you were called out on this empty attempt to fill your exam Blue Book, but hey, striving for partial credit is better than resigning to receiving none, right?
Let's be clear: There will be no partial credit if you try to use this strategy during a job interview. Hiring managers can spot an unprepared answer from a mile away, and unlike a potentially generous TA, they will not be understanding. Remember, they are looking to fill an opening with the candidate that will do the best job for them, meaning they'll take no interest in an interview performance that isn't well-thought out.
We get it — learning how to transform a fluffy response full of empty buzzwords into one of real substance can be challenging on your own, which is why the objective expertise of a professional interview coach can be so valuable. They'll guide you in what it means to be truly prepared so you don't fall into the trap of having to fake your way through any interview questions.
Your outfit matters
Going to class in sweatpants is a college-life trope for a reason. Getting up for that 8 a.m. lecture was an accomplishment in itself, so who cares what you look like? While your professors may not have minded, a potential employer most certainly will. And we don't mean just doing one-better than sweatpants — we mean pulling out (or shopping for) that real “adult” wardrobe and looking the part you're trying to earn.
Of course, every company has its own unique culture, which means no workplace is exactly the same in its outfit expectations. This is where your research comes into play, as you can get an idea of what those expectations are by finding photos from the company's website or social media profiles. For an overview of appropriate attire for every role and setting, check out these men's and women's guides to dressing for an interview.
Armed with a top-notch education, you're already decently prepared to make your entrance into the “real world's” job market. That said, the ability to put it all together in a polished package and present that in a job interview probably wasn't part of the curriculum.
By now, you know the value of guidance from industry experts, so why not continue your education with a professional interview coach to finish strong and land the job with the degree you've worked so hard for? Learn more about TopInterview's coaching services that can help you start this new chapter of your life.