A degree, solid GPA and some on-the-job experience helps, but the one skill you want to have coming out of college is to be good at interviewing. The aptitude to sell yourself in the few minutes you get with a prospective employer is paramount. Like anything, selling yourself in an interview is a learned skill and can be improved with practice. (And it helps to know a few tricks of the trade)
No two interviews are alike and your preparation should be tailored for the opportunity. Try to get as much information about the job and customize your cover letter and resume. Speak the language of your audience; if it’s a sales opportunity, feature your sales experience, even if it’s entry level, some experience is better than none. If a lot of writing is required then showcase your experience, influences and perspective in the world of literature – with preparation comes confidence.
The best employees I’ve ever had all shared this one trait – they didn’t take no for an answer. They were prepared for the interview, they knew they were qualified and their confidence was glaring.
Here’s a secret: some interviews are scripted and the questions are loaded. One of my favorites is the “hard rejection,” which is where the interview cruises along until the very end and the interviewer says, “Thank you for your time, but I’m not convinced you’re a superstar and we’re looking for superstars.” I’ve said this to plenty of applicants and the great ones all responded in a similar fashion, “I’m not a superstar??!! You’re mistaken, I am a superstar and in fact, I’m the best candidate you will interview! If you don’t offer me the job, you’re making a mistake.” Other candidates lowered their heads and looked for the nearest exit.
It’s a jungle out there and the ability to handle rejection is invaluable… preparation leads to confidence… don’t take no for an answer.