We've all read stories about how difficult it can be to land a "real job" out of college for new graduates, where the source of the issue focused solely on the lack of available opportunities. However, don't be so quick to blame the job market: good preparation for job interviews is becoming more and more rare. I've been hearing too many stories lately about parents of college grads showing up at job interviews and the job-seekers themselves showing up in a t-shirt and jeans. Instead of focusing too much on the wrong things to do, here are some absolute essential tips to help you ace your next interview.
Dress the part
A suit is always a good idea, even if the job itself doesn't really call for it. According to the career services office at Virginia Tech, wearing a suit to a job interview tells your prospective boss how seriously you take the opportunity.
As far as shirts and ties are concerned, have fun with them, but avoid extremes. If your tie could be described as "highlighter yellow", leave it at home! You want the attention on you, not on what you're wearing.
Spend time to iron your clothes, get a fresh haircut, and men should shave the morning of the interview. And if you buy new clothes for your interview, remember to remove the tags! This may sound funny, but it has happened before, and will happen again.
Leave your phone in the car, but use your "tech-savviness" to your advantage
The millenials are the most tech-savvy generation to enter the workforce so far. They know how to use technology more efficiently, are excellent multi-taskers, and have learned how to be collaborative and work well in groups throughout their entire lives. With this in mind, use technology to your advantage and make all of this known.
However, leave your own tech items (your phone) in the car. A lot of younger adults feel that it is completely appropriate to quickly say "I have to call you back..." into a phone during an interview. It's not. On that note, it's also not OK to have your phone on vibrate mode. It's still noticeable, and it's distracting to you and the person interviewing you. Nothing you or your friends have to say can't wait a few minutes.
A word about social networking
It seems that when it comes to hiring, checking social networking sites is becoming much more popular than it used to be. According to one recent report, 64% of employers checked out applicants on either Facebook or Twitter, so take a minute to clean up your profile before getting serious about applying for jobs. Delete those pictures from college (you know the ones), and if you have any friends who repeatedly post inappropriate content on your page, now may be a good time to "unfriend" them.
This should go without saying, but go alone
In a recent survey it was found that 8% of recent graduated brought a parent with them and that 3% had a parent actively participate in the interview. Thankfully, this is a small percentage so most interviewees have the good sense not to do this, but a lot of younger people think it's completely acceptable to bring a friend who sits in the waiting room. Don't be one of them!
Follow up, but do it right
Whatever your impression was during your interview, your prospective boss is not your friend, so don't treat them like one. A text after the interview saying "Nice 2 meet u!" is probably a bad idea, no matter how well-intended. Always address everyone from the company you're applying to in a formal manner before you get the job. It is, however, a good idea to write a follow-up email thanking your interviewer for his or her time. Just make sure you use words like "Sir" or "Mr. ___", not "Bob".
If you do all of the things mentioned here, you'll have an edge on a lot of your competition. There are plenty of people looking for tech-savvy multi-taskers, so show them why you're the one they should pick!