Friday, June 02, 2006

According to a recent NACE survey profiled on JobWeb employers predict a 14.5% increase In new college grad hiring for 2006 and many are offering higher starting salaries than were offered to last year's graduating class. Are you prepared for your first interview out of college? Below are four interview questions geared towards recent college graduates.

Why did you choose your college/major?

This question gives you the opportunity to show the hiring manager how you set goals and monitor success. For example, if you chose your university because it has one of the best academic programs in a particular field of study, you probably became interested in this program during high school and made a conscious decision at that time to build a portfolio of academic successes and extracurricular activities that made you a desirable candidate for that college. This shows your commitment to project completion as well as a high tolerance for challenging, competitive situations.

How does your degree prepare you for a career in (industry) or to excel as a (job title)?

The hiring manager is asking you to link your academic major with your targeted positions right after college. Draw on your college experiences including specific curriculum examples, a senior thesis, contributions to class projects, relevant internships, and extracurricular activities to demonstrate parallels between academic success and that expected of you in the world of work.

What qualifications do you have beyond academics that qualify you to make a successful transition into business?

There are two types of extracurricular activities that you can discuss…(1) school-related and community-based activities and (2) working arrangements to finance your education.

Participation in the same school-related activities for all four years validates that a candidate knows their strengths and is choosing to actively pursue them. It also shows a high level of discipline and commitment.

Students who financed their education through part-time and summer jobs can show how these jobs contributed to a strong sense of self-determination and self-reliance. They can make direct correlations between the skills learned on the job and their relevance to the position they are applying for. These students can also show employers how they successfully manage multiple tasks, prioritize responsibilities, and manage their time effectively.

Do you think your grades are a good indicator of your ability to succeed in business?

Grades may reflect an individual’s potential performance, but it is not guaranteed. Never apologize for less than stellar grades or blame others for poor performance; this could lead the hiring manager to believe you don’t feel confident in your abilities or don’t take responsibility for your actions. Instead, try to present a complete picture of your candidacy by discussing your grades within the context of your other accomplishments in college. For example, if you were a B student, but also held a leadership role in your fraternity or worked 30 hours a week to finance your education, let the hiring manager know about these successes.