Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How to Prep your Undergraduate for Their 1st Job Interview

Written by Guest Author Vivian Kerr

Undergraduate education is more expensive than ever, and many college financial aid packages include some type of work-study. Students often also take on positions at nearby restaurants, banks, and retailers to help subsidize their education. Give your child a leg up with some first-time job interview tips!

If not this, then something else.  A job interview can feel a bit like a first date, all sweaty palms and awkward conversation. But remember the key is not to come across as needy and desperate. A confident  and posed 18-year-old is always impressive!

Be patient. Don’t be offended by general questions, even if the prospective employer has a checklist. They may even be asking you for information you've already given them on your resume. They’re likely seeing a lot of candidates.  Always aim to appear gracious, professional, and happy to be there. No one wants to work with a jerk!

Don’t make stuff up. And while we’re on the subject of your resume, don’t ever lie on it. There’s no need – no one expects an undergraduate student to have a lot of experience in the workforce. DO have a good idea in mind as to why you’d be a great fit for the job or why it interests you. They’ll probably ask, and this will serve you well as you build your career! Check out more advice in this vein on this Learnist Career Advice board. The first learning especially offers more practical, logical, doable ways to improve your interviewing technique.

It isn’t academic. Now’s not the time to brag about your SAT score. In undergrad you’ll be a small fish in a big pond. An employer isn’t going to be impressed by your GPA in high school. They WILL be impressed by a good attitude and an eagerness to learn.

Follow up. The day after the interview, shoot an email over thanking them for their time and reinforcing your interest in the position. If you were an employer and interviewing four candidates, only one of whom followed up, to whom would you offer the position?

Don’t lead with the “money” talk. Most work-study jobs are minimum wage, and it’s unlikely any off-campus job will pay a student much more than that. Have a good idea of what you’d like to be paid, and don’t be afraid to ask at the end of the interview. But starting off with a list of your “salary requirements” will definitely not make the right impression.

But what about post-graduation? How do you build the networking skills you’ll need in the “real world”? This awesome resource on interviewing, job hunting, and more provides helpful tools to guide you as you search for internships and jobs after graduation from the Gamma Chapter of Pi Sigma Epsilon.

About the Author:

Vivian Kerr
: Vivian Kerr has been teaching and tutoring in the Los Angeles area since 2005. She graduated from the University of Southern California, studied abroad in London, and has worked for several test-prep companies including Grockit & Kaplan for whom she taught ACT, SAT, GRE, GMAT, and did admissions counseling.