The Graduate's Guide to Getting Hired

by Scott Wintrip
Wintrip Consulting Group

As graduation season draws near, you're likely getting geared up for a big job search. And chances are, you may have some preconceived ideas about how to get from unemployed to "you're hired." But you've probably picked up a few misconceptions that, if left uncorrected, could slow down your progress from the start.

Young people entering the workforce are often highly educated, ambitious, and positioned to take the job market by storm, but they still need to polish up their job search and interview tactics to really make an impression. I regularly observe well-seasoned jobseekers make errors that prevent them from being hired, and graduates are likely to make the same kind of mistakes. All they need is a little guidance to set them off on the right foot.

To get better jobs faster, college grads need to first find great organizations and learn to make a lasting impression during the selection process. Below are four common questions jobseekers often ask, the questions they should ask instead, and compelling answers to enhance their results.

Most-Asked Question: Where can I find the best job opportunities?
A Better Question: How can I find the best companies to work for?
Answer:
It's important to remember that almost everyone has access to jobs posted online. But while it's okay to apply for these widely publicized job openings, you're still competing with a huge crowd and that lowers your chances for getting the position or even an interview.

Many of the best jobs can't be found online or in print ads. In order to find the truly great jobs, he advises you to look for great organizations instead.

Find companies and leaders you believe are doing meaningful and possibly even heroic work. To do this, search the Internet for press releases announcing how these companies are giving back to the community or embarking on other philanthropic quests. Chances are, if they care enough to give back, they are also striving to take good care of their employees.

Most-Asked Question: What's the most important thing I should do during a job interview?
A Better Question: What's the biggest deal-breaker during a job interview?
Answer:
People always want to know what they should do to stand out during interviews. In this case, it's what you shouldn't do that's most important. Simply put, don't blab. Nothing turns off an interviewer more than a job candidate who loves the sound of his own voice.

Make it your practice to "say a little, and ask a lot." Asking great questions demonstrates your professionalism and intellect. And when it's your turn to answer questions, follow the KISS principle—Keep It Short and Simple. This shows your ability to communicate succinctly and effectively.

Most-Asked Question: What questions should I ask in an interview?
A Better Question: How can I fully engage during an interview?
Answer:
Questions help you turn a potentially one-sided interview into a dialogue. When an interview feels like a conversation, you'll be able to connect more with the leader and present your authentic self and get rid of any jitters you may be feeling.

As the interview begins, without interrupting or being intrusive, say the following: "As we begin this interview, I'd love to know what objectives you have for our meeting." This demonstrates that you understand mutuality—a belief that both of you can and should benefit from your time together.

It's also a good idea to take the responses of the leader or hiring manager and turn those into questions. For example, if she says, "Our top employees in this role aren't afraid to take risks," you could respond with, "How has their willingness to take risks contributed to their success?" This question shows that you're listening and allows you to have a more meaningful dialogue.

Most-Asked Question: How can I impress an interviewer?
A Better Question: How can I best display my skills in an interview?
Answer:
Remember, talk is cheap and seeing is believing. When an interviewer asks you a question about your skills, consider showing instead of telling. Experiential interviews—where candidates display their job skills—are rapidly replacing the old, conventional interview template.

Here's how to show your skills in an interview: If, for example, you're interviewing for a sales role and the interviewer says, "Tell me how you go about selling to a prospective customer," take this opportunity to show instead of tell. Suggest that you demonstrate a sales conversation in which the interviewer plays the role of the prospective customer. This strategy leaves a lasting impression on your interviewer and gives them a real sense of your talent.

The moment you throw your cap in the air, you become a prospective hire to countless organizations across the country. Make the most of this approaching opportunity by preparing now for your upcoming interviews. You'll get ahead of the competition and make great strides toward your professional future. iBi

Scott Wintrip is founder of the Wintrip Consulting Group and author of High Velocity Hiring: How to Hire Top Talent in an Instant.

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