May is nearly here. And with it comes graduation. Wayland Baptist University in Plainview has 130 students participating in commencement exercises this spring, with 27 completing their master’s program and 103 graduating with an undergraduate degree.
This is always an interesting time of year as we see students filled with excitement at their future prospects, whether that is continuing their education or entering the workforce. Some of them are planning to travel or work with ministry organizations for a few years. Some already have jobs or internships lined up in their chosen fields. Others are busy making wedding plans and looking forward to starting a whole new chapter of their lives, and some aren’t quite sure what they are going to do.
And then there are those who occasionally need a quick dose of reality. I enjoy talking to these youngsters. More than once I have been known to shake their hand, look them in the eye and remind them of the importance of actually finding a job and a place to live. I, of course, choose to do this in a humorous, if not moderately insensitive manner, questioning their ability to provide for themselves now that they must “adult” every day. Most of them have some quick retort that shows they have actually thought this through and made more plans than they are letting on, and they will be fine.
Still, “the real world” can be somewhat intimidating. It’s time to get out and start making a difference. Along with that comes real responsibility, finding a place to live, rent, bills, and finding a job. One of the most frightening aspects of entering “the real world” can be those first few job interviews. It’s no secret that these are intimidating, nerve-wracking, frightening — just pick your descriptor.
So in the spirit of giving one last lesson, let me offer three quick interview tips from personal experience that can help ease the tension.
- Be confident in your abilities. No, you may not have the most job experience, especially stepping straight out of college into the workforce, but you do have a working knowledge of the job you are seeking. You have the ability to learn, and the desire to succeed. Don’t sell these short.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A potential employer should appreciate your desire to seek a deeper understanding of the job and the organization. As one job interview I was in was winding down, the interviewer asked me if I had any additional questions. “Yes,” I said. “If you see fit to offer me this position, why should I take it?” He paused, looked at me and said, “That may be one of the best questions I’ve ever been asked in a job interview.” It forced him to look at the position from my point of view and offer more insight into the benefits of working for his organization. He offered me the job. I didn’t take it.
- Do your research. And this may be one of the best tips you can get. Make sure you have a working knowledge of the company or organization with which you are applying. Know and understand market trends and challenges affecting the job for which you are applying. Also it’s good to have a basic knowledge of the community in which the company/position is located. What are the demographics? What is the major industry for the area? You might be surprised at how this knowledge can help you form knowledgeable answers to interview questions.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of tips or advice for upcoming interviews, but it is a start. For a few more helpful tips you can obviously find advice online. And while I certainly can’t guarantee a successful job interview, here’s hoping you can approach every interview with confidence and an understanding that you have the potential to make a difference … the potential to change the world around you.
About the author: Jonathan Petty holds degrees in communications and management. He currently serves as the Director of Communications for Wayland Baptist University.