A recent article in Forbes.com listed a few key tips for college grads in hoping to land a job. Because employers are looking to hire a good number of their future employees from the class of 2012, the article is an effort to prepare seniors for what to expect when looking for a job. Upon reading this very informative advice, I could not help but notice that for every single step listed, I had an accompanying interview horror story in which I had done the complete opposite. I had gone in for my dream job, knowing practically nothing about the logistics of the company at which I was applying. When I was flat-out turned down on the spot, I moped around all summer without even attempting to interview for another position. I had arrived 40 minutes late to one interview, and in another had worn denim jeans while everyone was in a suit and tie. It made me wonder, where was this list when I was tongue-tied in front of an intimidating hirer? More importantly, where was everyone else getting their advice? What was the secret? Was everyone as lost as I was?
Apparently so. Among most of my classmates, most of them had never been to an official interview, and those who had, claimed to not knowing much going in other than the fact that one should, “dress nice.” Although, after asking for further clarification, not many of them even knew what that meant exactly. Enter, Alexa in blue jeans. Many were in the same boat as myself, picking up fragmented information from word of mouth and television shows, but not understanding that finding a job is much more tactical than it appears. One student in particular, when asked how he prepared for his first interview, replied with a slight shrug, saying, “I just winged it. Probably why I didn’t get the job.” Finding this solidarity amongst my fellow clueless classmates admittedly put me at ease.
On the other hand, I once was talking to an alumni of my high school who is now a pretty successful slam poet. He revealed to me that his first job was working in a lab, with some long and official-sounding title. I asked him what it meant, and he laughed, telling me that to this day, he still had no idea. He tried his best to convince me all he needed was to go in with no inhibitions, and from there he “just got them to like him.” I was astounded. Sure, he had an infectious personality and carried himself very well, but I was amazed (and highly dissatisfied with the lack of a “real” explanation) that his simple demeanor could get him hired on the spot.
Which brings me to the other interesting facet about this article, that none of it was spent giving advice about answering the actual questions during an interview. This, I had always assumed to be the most important part. Before my first interview, I had scoured the web for generic sample questions that I thought would surely be asked of me, so that I could give the most brilliant and eloquent responses and impress an employer. Of course, they never were. Instead, Forbes stresses how having knowledge of oneself as well as the confidence to showcase it was key to leaving a good impression, not having all the right answers. This explains why clearly unqualified people can sometimes land the job, and why many socially awkward college grads from highly ranked colleges may feel frustrated that their bulky resumes are getting them no where.
Essentially, the secret to having a great interview is that there are no secrets. It is a game of the draw, and the best one can do is go in with a positive outlook and leave with one as well, hired or not. Although preparation is key, the important part to draw from this article is that the advice is purely that: advice. Helpful to read, but ultimately one’s preparedness will come from getting to know yourself and your own habits, and knowing that even if you know all of the right answers, you’re still not going to get the job in tattered blue jeans.