Friday, July 15, 2011

New Grads' Biggest Blunders in Job Interviews

Common job interview pitfalls for recent grads


What do more than 50 seasoned college recruiters from top-level corporations and universities say are the biggest mistakes college grads make in job interviews? That’s the question I recently posed to recruiters from companies and schools like Google, Disney, Sony, and Stanford University. The outcome? Their five 'biggest blunders' - which are outlined below. Are YOU committing any of these mistakes in your job search?

1. Not paying attention to YOU on the Internet. Chances are your interviewer or future boss will do a "Google search" on you before they decide to call you in for an interview. In fact, I found out about 45% of recruiters now go beyond Google and search for you on social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. So, think twice about what you post online, even if you think it’s protected by a password.

What does this mean for you and your online personal brand? Think twice before posting those wild photos from last year’s spring break on your Facebook page or a picture of you passed out on your friend’s living room couch on your blog. Veda Jeffries from Stanford University, says, “Students feel that Facebook, etc. is their personal thing, but it’s difficult to erase negatives about who you are when it is open to anyone and everyone.” Pay attention to what you say in your blog or other social media, too. Negative comments about professors, internship colleagues, or dorm mates - or using bad language - may find you out of a job. Remember: Privacy is virtually non-existent on the Internet. As soon as you post it, your secret is out, and you may be unconsciously hurting your personal brand faster than you can click your mouse.

2. Believing a company’s “greeter” at a career fair is a peer or a confidante. Recruiters made it clear: The job of a company’s greeter at a career fair is to check you out just as much as an interviewer. Even if a greeter seems casual and talks to you like you were a friend, his or her job is to report back to the company whether to call you in for an interview or not. So, keep in mind that the greeter’s opinion counts! Also, make sure that you don’t say one thing to the greeter and something different to your interviewer. You’ll get caught, and that could lead you to being branded as inconsistent — or worse, dishonest. Keep it professional when interacting with every company rep.

3. Thinking the interview only begins when you’re across the desk from the interviewer. HR professionals repeatedly told me: From the moment you walk into the location where you’ll be interviewed, you are “on.” That means no talking on your cell phone, listening to your MP3 player, or texting in the lobby while waiting for the interviewer. It means remembering that how you treat the receptionist may be shared with your potential boss later on.

And, it also means remembering that the time you spend following the interviewer from the reception area to the interview room is also part of your interview. I found out that some recruiters are purposely quiet during that time just to see how you respond to the silence and to see if you’re outgoing and personable enough to talk. So, be sure to start some conversation during that time; a little small talk will go a long way to communicating a strong personal brand.

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