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Fresh Graduates First Job Interview Tips

By February 25, 2014 October 20th, 2020 3 Comments

It’s that time of the year again! Graduation – the tipping point of your life as a student and the beginning of your life as a professional.

Everyone looks forward to this event. For students, it is the end of countless nights of studying (aka cramming) and writing papers. For employers, it is the season to recruit great talents. And of course, for our parents, it is the end of their sacrifices for paying our tuition.

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Just like every fresh graduate, it is with high hopes that they get into their company of choice – whether that is a small company, a multinational, or a startup. Each one have their own perks and privileges and the choice will still be up to you. Unless you are going to start your own business, then this article may not be for you. However, you can pick up a lot of ideas here as an employer.

So the question now is…How do I get my dream job?

Fresh Graduate Job Application Tips

Tip #1: It’s Not All About You

Think about your dream job. How many of you think that is your dream job? How many openings do they have for that dream job?

One of the biggest mistake applicants make is thinking that they are so stellar they forget there are other candidates for that single post they are eying to be their dream job. In our company alone, we get applications in the hundreds (nearing the thousands mark). And we are not that big! What more about those multinational companies that you are thinking of going into.

The question now is how would you stand out among the hundreds and thousands of other applicants? (and the answer is not about being “clever”)

Tip #2: You Are Not as Good as You Think You Are

I have been on the other side of the interview process for quite some time now that I have gotten a sense that most tips for interviewing are really terrible. See, no matter how good you think you are, it does not matter one bit.

What matters is how good the interviewer thinks you are. See the difference? Whether you like it or not, if you cannot communicate what you did and how well you did in those areas (e.g. previous part-time work, org activities, etc.), then you do not stand a chance. This is Horstman’s Second Law of Interviewing.

Tip #3: Getting Invited for Interview Doesn’t Mean You Get the Job

I did my research and spoke to around 50 people (students, fresh graduates and those around my age) in the past 12 months and asked this question, “What is the purpose of an interview?” Only one answered it correctly. Can you guess what it is?

Majority of the people will answer that question with something like, “to get the job” or “to have work.” I do not blame them, that is how I used to think as well. Interviewing has made me realized that what we have been led to believe in was wrong. The purpose of an interview is to get an offer. Keep that in mind when you go to interview. Until you got something, you got nothing.

Tip #4: Salary Is Not a Negotiation

One of the edgy subjects in the interview process – the salary. You will probably hear a lot of advice saying that you should learn how to negotiate your salary. They even tell you to highlight your school, what you did in college, etc. But I will tell you this, salary is not a negotiation.

By definition, negotiation is a give-and-take activity. It is “aimed to reach a compromise.” Think about it.

Let us say after a series of interviews, you get a job offer and you think the salary is too low because you are the greatest fresh graduate ever. Then you start negotiating saying your salary has to be higher, because you came from the best university, graduated with honors, did a lot of extra and co-curricular activities, and the experiences you had being a leader in your organization (sounds familiar, right?). So, you would not accept it unless they give you a higher salary.

While that may be true, think of it from the company’s perspective and use the definition of negotiation. First, they do not know you. They have not “benefited” or gained anything from you. They are offering you money in exchange in the hopes that you will give them a higher return on their investment in the future. Hiring you is their investment and, therefore, not a negotiation.

On the other hand, what do you have to offer in return? See, when you “negotiate” for a higher salary, since you have nothing to begin with (meaning you have not given anything that the company deem useful), then it comes across as if you will only perform at 80% of your capacity for that initial job offer. And for a 20% increase, you will perform at 100%. That is simply unethical.

Tip #5: Interviews Start with Your Resume

Going back to tip #1, there are a lot of candidates for a single job. Now, how do you stand out? You start with your resume.

Before, when I applied for my first work, I thought that the interview process starts when I get invited for the interview. That is when I prepare, read up on the company, about the job and the like. But now, my perspective changed. And the sooner you think differently, the better it is for your career.

When you submit your resume to a company, remember this one important point: the company does not know who you are! Add that to the fact that there are multiple candidates for a single job, you have to stand out. Or better yet, give a reason why the company should invite you for interview. If not, sorry, look at tip #7.

Look at your resume right now and ask these couple of questions:

•  How long is it? Resumes should be 1-page only and show the relevant experiences and results for that particular job.  Remember, hundreds of applicants, one job opening. Help the other person reading your resume. They do not have time to interview hundreds of candidates for a single post. Fact is, majority of applications goes to the trash pile. Give them a reason to invite you.

•  What is written there? Results matter. Yes, experience is good, but even if you have “leadership” role in your organization in college, that does not mean you did great. Quantify everything.

Last year, when I had a group of interns working on some marketing projects, an opportunity came along and allowed me to delegate the screening of applicants to these interns. They are from one of the top universities here and when they applied, they were so proud of using their school’s format of a resume. After the project, I asked them what they learned from the activity. They said the resumes all look alike (school format) and showed no reason why they should invite them at all. They had to extrapolate and squeeze out the information from the resumes to find, if any at all, reason to invite that person. At some point, they realized that there are a lot of applicants for a single job and for the person screening them, it gets very tiring

Make it easy for the person reading your resume. Tell them what you did and how well you did.

Tip #6: It’s Not About Your School

More and more companies are veering away from the idea that “we only hire from the top 3 universities.” Rightfully so! While graduating from the top schools give you an edge, that only allows your resume a second glance. Seriously. I have thrown a lot of resumes from the top universities because I do not have any reason at all to invite them.

They simply listed their basic information, their course, their interests and hobbies. No matter what your school says, it is not about the prestige your school bring and it is not about how “well-rounded.” As a hiring manager, my first filter is “can you do the job I am hiring for?

If you go into that mindset, everything you do in the entire interview process will change – from the way you write your resume, how you dress for an interview, how you answer questions during the interview until you get the job offer and start you work.

Tip #7: Life Is Not Fair

Lastly, this is a good reminder. No matter how well you prepared, no matter how good you communicated to the interviewer about your experiences and results you had, there are times you will not get the job offer. In this case, move on. You did your part. That opportunity may not be for you.

These are the 7 tips for fresh graduates to get their dream job. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!


  • tezcka says:

    very inspiring and direct to the point 🙂

  • Phil says:

    Recruiters should try to interview more fresh graduates. Its a helpful experience and you can spot possible new employees with potential.

    • fullsuite_poaanq says:

      True, but that’s not their job. It’s the candidate’s job to show that he/she is /should be interviewed. The candidate needs to show the recruiter that they are worthy to be interviewed.

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