While student employment rates have dipped slightly over the past few years, splitting time between a job and studies is still fairly common for most college students. According to the most recent data made available by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 40 percent of full-time students and 76 percent of part-time students held a job while attending college.
Not only does employment provide students with direct financial benefits, but research compiled by Brigham Young University found that students who worked under 15 hours per week routinely outperformed their non-working peers, earning higher grade point averages (GPAs).
In addition, many students participate in work study and internship programs while in school to gain valuable experience and on-the-job training.
Given the many advantages that employment can offer to those enrolled in university, possessing solid interviews skills can prove to be very helpful.
How Can Students Prepare For That Oh So Important Interview?
Use available resources
Long before you land that crucial interview, take advantage of the resources available at your school. Most universities now have a career center on campus that can help connect you with employers and internships in your primary field of study. Your campus might also provide career development courses, resume writing seminars, and networking opportunities that can help you find the ideal job to suit your needs.
If you haven’t been to many interviews, ask a friend or classmate to help you get more comfortable with the process. Find a list of commonly asked interview questions online, and think about how you would answer them.
Don’t memorize canned answers. Instead focus on answering the questions honestly and in a relaxed manner.
Do the research
Spend time reviewing available background information regarding the company or organization hosting the interview. Visit their website to learn about their challenges and accomplishments. Review any press releases that they may have recently posted, and look for any articles that may have been published about the business.
Wear an outfit that would be appropriate for the work environment, erring on the too formal side. Show up early for the interview, and if for some unforeseeable reason you need to delay or reschedule — such as due to illness or your car breaking down — let the interviewer know as soon as possible.
During the interview, be polite and attentive. And turn off your phone — don’t just put it on silent. Constant vibrating can quickly become a distraction and derail the discussion.
Interviewers typically ask you about your personal strengths and weaknesses. Spend some time before the interview identifying three or four for each category. To highlight your skills and capabilities, think of an example or personal anecdote for each that demonstrates how you embody these traits. If you don’t have a work history to draw from, rely on incidents from your academic career.
Know the job
Carefully study the posted job description and be able to easily summarize why you would be a good fit for the position. Cite how previous experiences — academic, personal, and professional — have prepared you for the role.
Companies routinely evaluate hiring candidates on the level of enthusiasm and interest they show during interviews. Be prepared to ask questions about the position and the organization. Ask the interviewer about the company’s culture and why they personally enjoy working there. A little curiosity can go a long way in communicating your interest in the available position.
Before you leave, make sure you have contact information for the interviewer. Then send them a follow-up email or letter, thanking them for the opportunity. Be sure to reference anything that was mentioned during the discussion that piqued your interest in the company and briefly reiterate why you think the job would be an excellent match for your skills.
Considering that a number of these students may end up employed on your campus, your school could do both itself and its pupils a great service by equipping learners with the skills and tools necessary to succeed in the workforce.