Interview Advice for New College Grads

Look polished and professional during the interview process with these five tips.

I’ve written a number of job-search articles over the past few weeks specifically for our workforce newcomers. Each week we’ve tackled a step in the job-search process, from writing your resume to cleaning up your social media habits and applying to jobs.

From here, I want to delve into the world of interviewing. There’s so much to cover on this topic that I’ll be writing a few articles over the next several weeks offering both overarching advice and practical tips you can use right away. This installation covers five simple ways you can shine during the interview process.

Turn off the technology

Before you enter the office building, silence or turn off your phone and put your iPad or iPod away. Your interview begins the moment you wake up that morning, so assume anyone you meet could be part of the interview process. How you act and what you say in the reception area has an impact on your interview (they don’t call the receptionist the “director of first impressions” for nothing).

Avoid the “ums”

Gen Yers are notorious for being too casual during the interview process. If you’re in your twenties and looking for a job, take heed. Check and double-check any written communication related to a job application or interview. Remember, spellcheck can’t tell the difference between “read” and “red.” When speaking, avoid slang terminology (i.e. “yeah” “uh-huh”) and filler words (“so”, “um”, “like”). Even if the company seems laid back and relaxed, you don’t have permission to act or sound unprofessional.

It’s not about you

Employers want to know you took the time to research their organization and industry. Prove that you’ve done your homework by preparing at least five questions to ask each interviewer that reflect this prep work. When you are asked to tell the interviewer a little bit about yourself, use this opportunity to explain how you meet the core requirements of the job.


You can expect to be asked at least one behavioral question during an interview (“Tell me about a time…”). To prepare for these, skim through the job description and identify the must-have requirements for the role. Then use the STAR method to write out succinct stories to back up these core skills: think of aSituation orTask where you demonstrated that skill set, identify whatActions you took to resolve the matter and discuss theResults of your actions.

Dress for the part you want

Consider the company when choosing your interview outfit. Research the organization online by checking out the Careers section of their website and exploring their social media accounts or consider an office drive-by to get a better sense of the company’s dress code. Remember, there’s a difference between business casual and sloppy so even if the company has a very relaxed environment, you still need to look professional.

Looking for more advice on interviewing? Check out my article on 5 Ways to Look Foolish in an Interview. Stay tuned for more advice on networking and interviewing in the coming weeks!