8 top tips for a successful fresh graduate interview

Job interviews are one of life's biggest challenges, especially for fresh graduates. How do you answer job interview questions? Find tips and tricks to remain confident during a job interveiw. Crack the interview with this easy guide.

Receiving an invitation to an interview is a major feat. It means that the organisation sees potential in you, based solely on your application. It also means that you have been selected over a few hundred, whose applications would have also wound their way to the selection committee's table. Your application had that special something that made the selector's shortlist you.

Consider this an achievement; you've crossed the half-way mark of securing your first job. But, the challenge's not over yet - the real test is yet to come. The lesson you need to learn from this is that you possess the right academic skills that the prospective employee is seeking, and you look perfect on paper. The challenge lies in shifting the same magnetism into your personality. You have convinced the jury of your skills on paper, now you have to influence them in person.

When you go in for an interview you are going in to meet people who value you. They have a positive opinion about you, which is why you are there. Your job is to reinforce that belief that got ignited in them on seeing your CV/resume/application. Your job is to show yourself to be as dynamic as you have illustrated on paper. It's not a difficult task believe me – or better still, believe in yourself. You have come this far, you can surely go for the kill.

This 8 step guide will help you package and present yourself better at job interviews –

Facing the interview

The interview process for fresh graduates is often multi-layered –

Telephone interviews
Interviews over the telephone are rare in India, but they do happen, mostly to sift through the shortlisted list of applicants to reveal the most appropriate candidates for the job. Telephone interviews are to be taken seriously because what you say and the way you answer questions could decide your fate. I'll do a fresh article on the right way to handle telephone.

Skill-based interviews
Skill or competence interviews assess you for specific skills, separate from academic skills. These skills are required in the industry and reveal your competence. You could be asked to narrate incidents from your life where you such skills were put to test. Alternatively, you could be given hypothetical situations and asked for your reaction.

Skill based interviews judge you for varied personal attributes, some of which are communication skills, leadership qualities, problem-solving abilities and creativity etcetera.

Recommended Reading : Tips on answering competency based questions at job interviews

Panel interviews
These are the face-to-face interviews where you are interviewed by a panel. The panel generally comprises of different people, holding different portfolios in the company. You can expect members from the HR team and the managers on the panel.

Each member of the panel will be judging different aspects. For instance, the HR will not have the technical knowledge and your responses will go over their head. But, they'll be observing non-verbal skills and competency skills.

Recommended Reading : Top 10 skills fresh graduates must have for getting a job

Gather information on organisation & job

You probably did that once, when you got to know about the job. Go back and do some more research on the company, their services and products. Their skills and requirements posted against the job. Use the bits of information you gather to prepare for the interview. This information can help you answer many questions successfully.

Example – "Why do you want to work for us?" If you know the company and the job profile you can always respond with what you like and how you think it is interesting, creative or challenging.

"How will you contribute to the company?" You can answer this question only if you know what the company does.

"What skills do you have to offer?" What skills does the job/company require? Base your answer on that – become a team player, if the company has projects that many people handle, become creative if the job requires specific talent, become a good communicator if the job entails meeting with clients or coordinating between management and staff. Learn to manipulate and you'll ace the interview.

Recommended Reading : Tips on last minute job interview confidence boosters

Do a self-analysis

Make a list of skill sets that employers seek. Create a record of things that you have done in college as part of academics and extracurricular activities. Translate these into skills. You helped organise the sports fest – you've got leadership qualities. You were the liaison between the organisational team and sponsors – you've got good managerial/communication skills.

Dig into the past few years that you've been in college and pick out incidents that match with the qualities industries require. You will need to connect different incidents and your role in it, with competency skills. Have a clear plan in mind of how you would respond to questions about specific skills.

Review your application a few days before the interview. Go through the points that you had highlighted – about your achievements, your skills etcetera.

Think of questions that you might be asked about them such as –
What did a particular achievement teach you – you could answer that you learned to be patient; to be consistent, to work as a team, to communicate, to appreciate…the list can go on. Think out of the box!

What made you continue with your goal/mission – the fact that you achieved something is commendable, but what kept you focused. Talk of accepting challenges, liking the creativity, liking the progress, the thrill of seeing the birth of a new idea…get as verbal as you can. It will reflect your passion and commitment.

Recommended Reading : Interview tips - How to make body language work for you

Knowledge is power

Most interviewers end the interview by asking you if you have any questions. This is the time to put your research on the company and its products/services into use. Ask relevant questions based on the information you have.

For example – if the company recently diversified, your question could be related to that or post question on what the company does. Sound intelligent, don't ask silly questions.

Don't ask about working hours, benefits that you'd be entitled to, leave policies, salary etcetera.

Plan to the last detail

Have everything you need, organised a day or two ahead. Don't leave things for the last minute. This includes preparing all the things mentioned above, in addition to dressing right, for the occasion.

Carry certificates and supporting documents in original and copies. Make sure you arrive at the interview ahead of schedule.

Be aware, be in control

While you are seated in the lobby or in a room waiting to be called in for the interview, maintain a poise – sit gracefully, don't sit at the edge of your seat – relax, don't be fidgety, don't bite your nails, don't do anything seemingly awkward. You never know if the CCTV cameras are focused on you and you/your body language is being observed.

What you must do is smile at the person at the reception and at the others seated around. Instead of waiting, idling away time, pick up the newspaper or magazines that can generally be found in waiting areas. Read through them, or at least pretend to do so. You will automatically appear confident.

Put your mobile phone on silent and don't be glued to it. Keep it out of site!

Finally, during the interview, don't let nervousness get to you. Know that it is normal to be nervous. The people across the table are just a bunch of people, who would have been in your place some day. They are only going to be asking you questions – they can do you no harm, and you know that. You'll either never see them again, after the interview, or will continue seeing them almost every day. So, chin up and face them.

Pause to gather your thoughts before responding. Ask for clarifications if you don't understand the question – give examples, lots of them, to bring home your point. Paint the prettiest picture of yourself – but keep it real.

Stay composed

If the interview is not going well, maintain poise – don't get teary eyed. It's alright. It's not the end of the world.

If you've been offered a job - Be graceful and thank the panel. Shake hands, be courteous don't be over exuberant.

Let your experiences be your guide

Learn from experiences, both good and bad ones. Make a mental note of every aspect of the interview. It will help you analyse what worked and what didn't. Failures are a stepping stone to success only if you learn from your mistakes. Make amends, so the next time round you can perform better. Meanwhile, applaud yourself when things work. It's a good morale booster.

And here's a final piece of advice - Be prepared – stay ahead of the game!

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

Follow Juana or read 547 articles authored by Juana

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