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A Graduate’s Guide to Interview Etiquette: 10 Tips for College Students Entering the Workforce

How to snag your dream job after graduating from college.

Unemployed young university woman looking for work or job after graduation at the post board

Congratulations! You have officially completed your journey as a college student. So, what now? Unless you plan on taking a gap year to “find yourself”, à la Eat Pray Love, then it’s likely you have started the process of hunting for your dream job. Whether you are a recent college grad or a seasoned professional in the workforce, the fundamentals of recruitment have remained the same. Want to snag your dream job? Try these 10 tips when you are ready for your next professional opportunity:

The Pre-Interview

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

Seneca
  1. Do Your Homework: Before you think about applying to that job, you need to do your own research on the company you are interested in. 
  • Familiarize yourself with the company, its values, and employee culture.
  • Use employment websites like Indeed, Glassdoor, and Linked-In to read company reviews and learn about the challenges of the role you’re applying to.

2. Revise Your Resume: A no-brainer when job hunting is to update your resume with current and relevant experience.

  • Limit resume to one page-only include experience that relates to the job position you are applying to.
  • Proofread your documents to catch any typos or grammar mistakes.
  • Keep multiple copies on hand for in-person interviews and store them inside of a folder or binder.

3. Practice Makes Perfect: Practice your interview presentation in preparation for your official interview.

  • Practice speaking in front of a mirror to improve your communication skills.
  • Review commonly asked interview questions such as: “tell us about yourself” or “why should we hire you”.

Now that you’re refreshed on the pre-interview ritual, let’s jump straight to business: how to prepare for the big meeting.

The Interview Process

Dress how you want to be addressed.

Bianca Frazier

4. First Impressions: Professionalism never goes out of style, so dress accordingly and keep a polished appearance when meeting with a potential employer for the first time.

  • Check your interview outfit for stains, loose threads, or any imperfections; keep a lint roller handy if needed. 
  • Steam or iron your garments: wrinkles look cute on French Bulldogs, not on your button-down shirt. 
  • Maintain proper grooming standards to look bright eyed and bushy tailed in person or on camera.

5. Be On Time: Whether it’s virtual or in-person, don’t be late for your interview! 

  • Allocate time for traffic and other factors out of your control.
  • Ask for directions so you are familiar with the building number or office space.
  • Show up 10 minutes early to your in-person interview; for virtual meetings, arrive at the waiting room before your interviewer.

6. Mind Your Manners: Be aware of your non-verbal and verbal communication when interacting with recruiters.

  • Positive body language: firm handshake, make direct eye contact, sit up straight, and smile.
  • Be confident and speak clearly when answering questions.  
  • Avoid using excessive filler words (“uhm”, “uh”, “like”) when you get a nervous tick; use pauses instead.

7. Do Not Disturb Mode: Only bring necessary materials that you will need for your interview process.

  • Silence all devices to avoid disruptions during conversations.
  • Un-sync smart devices that are programmed to ring at the same time; this is crucial for virtual meetings/Zoom calls.

8. Humble Brag: Showcase your personality and accomplishments to make a lasting impression.

  • No self deprecating talk; this makes it seem that you are lacking in confidence.
  • Speak positively about your accomplishments; mention any proud moments that occurred in school, clubs, sports, or other extra curricular activities. 
  • Be honest about your current skill level and don’t lie to impress a potential employer; you may be asked to follow up on your words.

Great job! You survived the interview process. Now it’s time to finish off strong and close the deal.

The Post-Interview

You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.

Rosalynn Carter

9. Q&A: Be inquisitive and ask questions at the end of your interview to stand out from other candidates.

  • Use your research from Tip #1 to base your questions; include questions that reflect your interest in the position.
  • Ask for clarification from the interviewer if you are confused about what is being asked.
  • Listen carefully before answering and think about what you are going to say next.

10. Send a “Thank You” Note: Follow up with your interviewer and send them a “thank you” note for taking the time to meet with you.

  • Keep important contact info if you are interested in the job to make follow ups easy.
  • Reference what was said during the interview in your note. 
  • Enhance your chances of getting hired by expressing your appreciation.

Now that you’ve made it to the end of this list, it’s time to show the world what you’re capable of! Remember that preparation is the key to your success. Make a memorable first impression by minding your manners and remaining professional. Set yourself apart from the competition by practicing the 10 Interview Etiquette tips listed above and pretty soon you’ll be celebrating your new hire status. Good luck!

Need more information about your career needs? Visit Ventura College’s Career Center for access to seminars, help with resume writing, job postings, career planning, and much more!

By Jocelyn Herrera

Jocelyn Carolina Herrera is a first-gen business woman with a passion for fashion and creative marketing. Her background in writing, photography, and retail management has led her to several opportunities as a creative professional. She is known for her contributions working in the fashion industry as a visual merchandiser, stylist, and event coordinator. Most notably, Ms. Herrera has collaborated with companies such as Victoria’s Secret, Urban Outfitters, and Buffalo Exchange. Born and raised in the sunny suburbs of Southern California, Ms. Herrera is currently pursuing a career in fashion marketing and public relations.

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