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5 Unintentional Mistakes Students Make During an Interview
An interview is the first and often the only time you will be able to meet a prospective employer and display your most professional behavior. You will also have the opportunity to discuss your achievements to date and future goals. Since you will be competing with other applicants who are interviewing for the same job, you should make your best efforts to convince the interviewer that you are the best candidate for the job. Part of doing this is to avoid the common but unintended mistakes that students sometimes make in an interview.
Downplay Your Credentials
Modesty is usually a virtue, but not when it is overdone during a job interview. While maintaining a respectful attitude, you can talk comfortably about your accomplishments to date. These could include a high GPA, the college degree you are earning, courses relevant to the job that you have passed, special projects you have completed or a portfolio of related work, and extracurricular activities or volunteerism that can set you apart from other candidates. Don’t hide your impressive achievements, but state them clearly and simply.
Exaggerate Your Credentials
On the other hand, avoid a boastful or competitive attitude during the interview. Openly discuss your accomplishments that make you a good fit for the position without going into extreme detail unless the interviewer asks. Basically reveal what you have learned that has prepared you to do a good job in the open position and why you want this particular job (and not just for a paycheck).
Avoid peer-level social behavior that may feel comfortable on campus but does not belong in a professional business office. Chewing gum, tapping your feet, dressing informally, using profanity or slang, and frequent jokes along with a casual appearance will not win points with most employers. Dress professionally without overdoing it, look neat, wear clean shoes, and arrange your hair neatly. Be prepared to listen to the interviewer’s description of the job duties so you can ask questions or explain how you are a good fit for the position.
Know Little About the Job Opening
You might think that most job openings in your career field are the same and thus fail to prepare for each specific interview. Actually, jobs with similar titles can vary widely. It is important that you study the company’s website to understand its general operations as well as the position you are seeking. Familiarize yourself with the department functions and interactions as well as key leaders in the organization. While you don’t need to mention them all during the interview, knowing something about the company’s big picture can present you as someone who really cares about getting this position.
Be Unable to Connect Your Skills to Company Needs
You may be asked to explain how your background has prepared you to do a good job in this position, and you will want to provide specific examples of how you plan to do that. For example, a seminar that you took about global communication, even when not part of your degree-required courses, may be valued by the company for future promotion purposes if the organization plans to expand.
Remember that the company is looking to hire the most qualified candidate. Consider every aspect of the interview in order to position yourself as the best person for the job. Avoid the common mistakes that students sometimes make when interviewing for a career position, especially if they have limited interviewing experience.
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