Congratulations to the new grad on graduating from college or university! As you step into the world of job interviews, it's completely normal to feel a mix of excitement and nervousness. This is especially true if this is your first real job interview. Don't stress out — everyone starts somewhere, and this is your opportunity to showcase your potential.

In this article, we'll provide practical tips and strategies specifically designed for recent graduates entering the job interview scene. The aim is to help you approach this important step in your budding career by focusing on interview preparation and research. Let's dive into some valuable insights to make your job interview experience successful, no matter your career goals.


general interview tips and advice

The hiring process might be overwhelming, but here is some advice for new graduates. For an effective interview, avoid rambling responses. Try not to punctuate your speech with filler words such as 'you know,' 'like,' or 'um.' Strive for simplicity and precision in your answers. Try to recognize that lengthy explanations often contribute little substance to the dialogue.

When answering questions, maintain a positive tone even when recounting experiences that may have been less than favourable. Including specific details in your answers makes them more engaging and shows off your greatest strengths.

Preparation is key when heading into an interview. Take the time to research the company thoroughly. Create a list of questions to ask at the end of an interview. Interviewers are interested in knowing if you have any questions.

Be more prepared by bringing extra copies of your resume. Make sure that you have open and friendly body language and maintain eye contact with the hiring manager.

The most important advice is to remain true to yourself. The best asset that you bring to the table is yourself. Ultimately, being genuine facilitates a more enjoyable and meaningful interview process and contributes to a more authentic and sustainable professional relationship.

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prepare answers for tough interview questions

As a new graduate, you may struggle to determine what your job interviewer will ask you. Here are a few sample questions you may struggle to answer and suggestions to approach them like a seasoned interview pro.

1. tell me about yourself.

This is one of those open-ended questions you may be unsure where to start. The hiring manager isn’t asking this question to learn about your favourite colour, hobbies or that you’re a middle child. That is unless they relate to your work skills, experiences, or the opportunity.

Start with your elevator pitch. Create a short introduction about yourself that covers the who, what, and why of you. If you haven't created an elevator pitch yet, now’s the perfect time to get one started.

Check out our article on how to prepare an answer for ‘tell me about yourself.’

2. what are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?

Another way of preparing for this question is by asking yourself, ‘can you tell me about a time you faced a challenge and how you responded?’

The way to answer questions is to list qualities and traits that are relevant to the job opportunity you’re interviewing for. Read the job description and use that information to pull out your strengths and weaknesses. In areas where you need improvement, focus on what you’ve learned from the challenge and how you applied your newfound self-awareness to other situations.

You want to be honest; however, don’t be too negative or bring up something that’s a deal breaker during the interview. For instance, saying you have trouble meeting deadlines, while it might be honest, isn’t going to help your case for employment.

When a hiring manager asks you to touch on something negative, always focus on what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown. We guarantee you learned or gained something to use to turn it into an advantage. Paint yourself in the best possible light in the context of the job you’re applying for.

3. why do you want to work for this company? OR why do you want this job?

The best approach to a question like this is highlighting facets of the job you’re applying for. You can do this using the research you’ve done about the organization. Use the job description and put the role in the context of your own experience, personality, and the work environment you are looking for.

For example, you want to work for a small not-for-profit because you want your work to make a difference. You like the camaraderie and support of a small office and work well in an open work environment because while you’re a self-starter and enjoy working independently, you thrive in a collaborative workplace.

Your answer should reflect your research on the organization and what you can determine about its work culture. Painting a picture of how you're fit for the jobs and the value and contributions you bring is a good idea.

4. what achievement are you most proud of?

The answer isn’t the quilt you made, beating a swimming record in high school or scoring a home run in Little League. Focus on work experience or school if you don’t have any work history to speak of. No matter how limited and the value it could bring to this prospective employer. Consider how your work delivered results, even if you must reach for it.

Were you a camp counsellor for several seasons? Use that and explain your organizational skills and interactions with campers. How you encouraged them to bring their friends, increasing attendance — and revenues — at the camp.

Did you initiate a new scheduling method at the coffee shop you worked at through college that resulted in fewer redundancies and a more equitable way of staffing? Showing results based on your actions, regardless of where you worked or in what capacity, is something any prospective employer can understand and relate to.

We’ve outlined four questions that seem to be asked more frequently. However, as a new graduate, you'll discover many more.

As much as you prepare, there will be moments when you’re at a loss and unsure how to respond. Whatever you do, don't panic. Just take a deep breath and say, "That’s a great question. I need to think about that. Can we circle back to it?” 

We've got you covered if you're looking for more interview questions. Here is a list of challenging interview questions and some common interview questions and answers. As a new graduate, you'll discover the best ways to answer them.

You’re a diamond in the rough at this point in your career journey, and you won't have all the answers. You do have to give a prospective employer a sense of who you are and how you work. Let them see how you function in challenging, stressful situations. With careful thought, practice and research, you’ll have them come away thinking they’d be wise to hire you.

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