How to ace your job interview

Only 17 percent of college graduates in May 2014 graduated with jobs, according to The Washington Post.

As many students at BYU-Idaho are nearing graduation, the concern to find employment is on the front of their minds.

Aside from one’s résumé, there are certain strategies that can be used to help a person nail his or her job interview.

“Image is about 65 percent of what they think of you,” said Thor Bostrom, a career preparation mentor at the BYU-I Career Networking Center.

He said image includes dress and body language.

When deciding what to wear, Bostrom said to dress one or two steps above the job one is applying for, so the candidate will need to analyze the company and gauge the decision based on that.

First impressions are the most important part of any interview, and once they are set, it is very hard to change them, according to TIME Magazine.            

One should frame the conversation with a few well-rehearsed sentences regarding how one wants to be perceived, as that will end up being how the interviewer forms their memories of the candidate, according to TIME Magazine.            

Bostrom said he suggests preparing a “me in 30 seconds” statement where the candidate can talk about his or her education, work experience, skills and attributes that defines who the candidate is as a professional.            

“Write it out and prepare your answer beforehand,” Bostrom said. “Half memorize it, that way you know what points to hit so you don’t miss anything.”            

Bostrom said one of the most common questions asked in an interview is, “Tell me about yourself.” He said when asked this question, a general rule would be to discuss one’s qualifications. This is where the, “me in 30 seconds statement” can come in handy.

“A bad answer to this question is talking about your family, where you grew up, trivial hobbies or marital status,” Bostrom said. “That information is nice to know, but not what an employer is looking for. The employer is looking for what the candidate can offer.”           

The “tell me about yourself” question is an invitation to outshine one’s résumé, tell the employer what value one will bring to the table, and address any weaknesses in one’s employment or educational record, according to Forbes.            

Jacob Haws, the website and development project manager at BYU-I’s Human Resources Office, said another common question that is asked is to tell a strength and a weakness.              

“It’s a tricky question,” Haws said. “A lot of people want to be really honest, but you want to make it more of a positive thing.”           

A candidate should pick a real weakness that would not be handicap to the company, according to Big Interview, a website dedicated to improve job interview skills. The weakness should be one that is authentic, but relatively minor and fixable. The best option would be to describe how one is taking proactive efforts to improve that weakness, according to Big Interview.              

“Say your strength first and connect it to your weakness,” Haws said. “Then, tell how you’ve fixed your weakness.”

A common mistake candidates make is not preparing some questions to ask the interviewer, according to Forbes.            

“Having a thoughtful question or two speaks volumes about your interest in the position,” according to Forbes.            

A few questions a candidate could ask are What is the expectation of him or her in the first 60-90 days? What is the culture of the company? Or, what is the difference between a good employee and a great one, according to TIME Magazine.

“If you’ve done your homework, you’re set,” Haws said. “Be yourself. They can tell if you’re trying to be the person they want and not you.”

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