Making the transition from achieving academic excellence to getting that dream job can be difficult. This is not due to faults in experience or motivation, but the fact that the road to getting a position seems to be a Herculean task, and one most students are not particularly familiar with.
Our economy, unfortunately, isn’t in a state in which it can welcome the 1.8 million students that are expected to graduate this school year with open hands, so recent graduates on the lookout for their perfect place in the world will need to go the extra mile to stand out.
Phase 1- Before Application
Before applying for a job opening, the resume one is applying with needs to be current and well-designed.
Keeping it short, at maximum two pages long and emphasizing the experience that directly relates to the position one is applying for are the basics. A nice design is a clean design, so the main tip is not to overcomplicate things.
The most recent experiences ought to be listed first, and any relevant skills need to be mentioned as well. What this means, in practice, is the résumé should be updated with every new application, with slight alterations, so that it showcases the requirements of the position are met.
For those still on how to best highlight their experience, I suggest taking a look at some of the best resume writing tips and starting from there.
Most employers will require a cover letter to accompany the application and this is the applicant’s first moment to shine. At this point it’s necessary to do research about the company and what they stand for, and then sitting to pen the letter down. It’s recommended to use it as an opportunity to show why the employer needs to hear more from and about a particular candidate.
Here are some things that should be covered by a good cover letter:
- Why are you applying for a position in this company?
- What can you bring to the table?
- Why is this position your dream?
Companies want to know that due diligence was done and make sure the candidates understand their vision and direction: that should be the focus point.
Phase 2- After Application
The best news one can get after applying for a job is an invitation for a personal interview. Sometimes one will have to go to dozens of them before landing a great job, and other times the first effort will work like a charm. The key here is knowing how to answer interview questions.
Top 10 Personal Interview Questions with Answer.
Here are the top 10 interview questions with answers to help candidates better prepare:
Interview Question No. 1: Tell me a little about yourself.
This can be a tricky one interview question, as most candidates are not sure where to begin or what to talk about. It’s really a chance to explain the motivation behind one’s decisions, as this is what the employer is really trying to understand.
Interview question Answer: Well, I recently graduated from the University of Florida with a Degree in Marketing, a field I opted for because it is constantly changing and requires continuous learning and creativity, which I consider to be my strong suits. I enjoy positions where I am being constantly challenged. This is also one of the main reasons I’m excited about this opportunity with your company, as it will allow me to explore brand dynamics on a deeper and more practical level.
Including any internships and volunteering experiences is a plus, as it further shows how willing a candidate is to go the extra mile.
Interview Question No. 2: What are your biggest weaknesses?
Many go the easy route and list things that are not really considered to be flaws by the general public, like perfectionism.
While the employer will let candidates get away with this answer, after a little prodding about the reasoning behind, by the end of the conversation it will be clear to both parties that the query was dodged.
As a recent graduate, a fresh-faced candidate has the advantage of a glaring weakness and one that’s easily improved upon: experience or lack thereof.
Interview question Answer: As a recent graduate, I can’t really say I’ve managed to get a lot of practical experience related to marketing or brand management. While the theoretical knowledge is there, I need some time in the field in order to reach my full potential and grow, and I would love to be given the opportunity to do that in your company.
Even when one has experience, it’s always best to find a true weakness that can be improved and laying out a plan to overcome it. This is sure to impress an employer!
Interview Question No. 3: Why do you want this job?
This particular one interview question actually contains another query within: Why our company?
Best to start with the company and underlining how one’s personal values match the company’s goals and vision, after which comes going through the details of the position one is hoping to get and their understanding of it.
Interview question Answer: Even as a child I was impressed by the commercials and ad campaigns Nike ran. It was actually one of the reasons I opted for a career in marketing, as I wanted to be someone that inspires and supports athletes in achieving their best. Sport was a big part of my life and I worshiped the company that supported my sport idols. This opening, as a starting one, will help me get a better understanding of what happens behind the curtain and how magic is made. It has been my goal for a long time and I would love to get this opportunity.
Interview Question No. 4: What is your biggest achievement?
People have the chance to go as personal or as professional as they want with this one. How we view achievements and what we see achievements is a great differentiator between excellent candidates.
Interview question Answer: There are a few accomplishments I am particularly proud of, but the biggest one has to be re-inventing our local Youth Center’s marketing strategy. When I first started volunteering, the Center was really struggling financially, as it has difficulties approaching potential donors, mostly due to the fact that not a lot of young people were interested in the activities offered. A catch-22 of sorts. I believed that the youth would get more involved if they’re given the opportunity to design their own programs and create their own projects. With help of some of my classmates and the workers, we designed and launched a phone app that tracks the current activities, in order to make it more accessible for youth. As a result, it managed to get additional funding and was just remodeled.
Whenever one is faced with this query, it’s best to have a few achievements prepared, as employers sometimes ask what the next best one was. Keeping it relevant to the position and recent is a huge bonus.
Interview Question No. 5: Describe your dream job.
Here one should focus on work environment, field, and long-term goals.
Interview question Answer: My dream position has to be one where the work environment is pleasant, the team cohesive and supportive, where I believe in the products we’re producing and selling, and where I agree with the vision and support it on a personal level. It would also be a job that’s challenging and that requires me to constantly learn and grow, while also allowing me space to experiment.
An employer will know if one is pandering to them, so it’s best to steer clear of this if possible.
Interview Question No. 6: What’s your ideal work environment?
Tying into the previous question, this one allows people to show what matters to them in a work setting.
Interview question Answer: For me, it’s important that my colleagues care and are passionate about our products. This shared enthusiasm is conductive for productive work and effective communication. Being a part of a work place where one can safely express their opinions and work together towards goals is what it’s really all about.
Interview Question No. 7: Tell me about a time you disagreed with a decision. How did you act on it?
As a situational question, this is designed to test a candidate’s behavior in confrontational situations.
Interview question Answer: In one group project at University, we were tasked with defining a target market whose needs were not met and designing our offering to meet those needs. There were five of us in the group and one other student and I wanted to focus on the elderly, as our research showed that their needs for altered and age-specific products, while the other three wanted to develop a plan to bring back Lemon Ice Gatorade. Even though I disagreed, the majority won out and we designed a petition and online campaign to bring it back.
Showing that one is ready to compromise and is reasonable instead of stubborn is key.
Interview Question No. 8: What can we expect from you in your first three months?
This is posed in a way that tests a person’s honesty and realism.
Interview question Answer: It goes without saying that you can expect an influx of energy and motivation, but it should also be clear that I would have a lot of questions to start with. In the first, adjustment period I expect to be acquainted with the team and processes, and figure out how the company ticks. As I am full of ideas, I would also like to see if any of them could be implemented in future campaigns and what needs to be done to make them a reality.
One should always be careful about what they promise, but should also suggest that they have a lot to bring to the table.
Interview Question NO. 9: Why should we hire you?
Most people get stumped about how to respond to this one: how does one compare themselves to people they don’t even know and are competing with? In short: one doesn’t.
Interview question Answer: I’ve been following your company’s campaigns for years and am very passionate about your mission and vision, which is why I believe I would fit right in. Additionally, I am eager to learn and fresh out of school, so your company will have the opportunity to mold me into an ideal employee.
This is another place in which being a fresh graduate really works in a candidate’s favor!
Interview Question No. 10: Do you have any questions for us?
While it’s certainly one of the most difficult interview questions, the answer is always ‘YES’! Which ones work best depends on the company, what is said in the conversation and prior research conducted by the interviewee.
Interview question Answer: Yes, I actually have a few. First, I would like to know more about the current marketing team and the processes in place that help us collaborate. It was also my understanding that I am to be given a mentor for the first month on the job- could I hear more about this person and the goals of the mentorship? And last, but not least, I would like to know how this company defines and measures success.
Some inquiries will come from the ones posed to the candidate and come up organically, others need some prior preparation, but however they come about it’s vital to ask them.