Interviewing 101 for the Recent Graduate

May 1, 2019

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The time has come; you will be walking down the aisle to accept your degree any day now. Looking back, the past four years have been a blur and, while you ride the waves of nostalgia and excitement that undoubtedly come along with graduating from college, you find yourself in unfamiliar territory. Armed with your education, internship experience and a dream, you are now actively applying for entry-level PR positions.

When the much-anticipated phone call comes in from the prestigious agency or organization of your dreams, responding to your application and requesting your time, there are several things for you to do and keep in mind before, during and following an in-person interview.

In the days before the interview

Be sure to research the firm and the hiring manager, as well as any confirmed interview participants. Your confidence will improve when you are more familiar with the organization and the executives who you will be meeting.

Review the position description again in order to become better acquainted with the specific responsibilities and requirements of the role. Think about how your earlier experiences have prepared you for this job. Prepare yourself with intelligent, insightful questions about the opportunity, the team and the company.

Print extra copies of your résumé and organize your hard-copy portfolio if you have one. Plan, and try on, your interview outfit. Confirm the address and your transportation options. Lastly, be sure to get a good night of sleep. 

On the day of the interview

Eat something for breakfast, dress for success and arrive on time. Do not arrive more than 15 minutes before your scheduled interview time. Being too early can be inconvenient to the team anticipating your visit. On another note, if you are running late, then immediately message the person who organized your appointments. Apologize, and let them know what your estimated arrival time is.  

Be prepared to discuss your experiences and achievements confidently, authentically and concisely. Try not to speak too quickly. Stay away from “um” and “like” during your presentation. Be aware of your body language, and avoid reading directly off of your résumé.

A good interview will often feel like a conversation. If you lose your train of thought while answering a question, then it’s OK to pivot or ask the interviewer to repeat or rephrase their question. At the very end of your discussion, be sure to thank the interviewer for their time.   

After the interview

Take a few hours to reflect on your conversation. Send customized thank-you emails to the people who you met, as well as the person who coordinated your meetings — no more than 24 hours afterward.

Use this opportunity to reference something important that stood out to you during the conversation and to provide any requested work samples. This note is a bonus way to briefly showcase your communication skills.

Additionally, connect with the interview team on LinkedIn. Whether or not you are selected for the position, this step ensures that you are making positive networking relationships. It also leaves a door open for future opportunities.

Somewhere between 72 hours to one week after your interviews, send a personalized follow-up note to your main point-of-contact, whether they are the recruiter or hiring manager, in order to reiterate your continued interest in the position. In most cases, after your outreach at this stage, a weekly follow-up is sufficient. 

Incorporating all of these tips while you are going through the interview process with various organizations will help you put your best foot forward while staying organized and being memorable. Have a great interviewing experience, graduates! 

Christina Stokes

Christina Stokes is the vice president and director of talent acquisition at Rubenstein. She is passionate about refining and enhancing employee engagement, company culture, and diversity and inclusion efforts. Twitter: @NewYorkRoses.

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