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New Grads: How to Prepare for Your First Interview

You're smart. You know that interviewing for your first full-time, office-type job is going to be far different than any other interview you've had before. But just how different will it be?

The typical part-time, I'm-in-college-and-need-gas-money, retail job interview is unexpected and informal:

  1. You never know when you're going to be interviewed; it could be on the spot as soon as you hand in your application, or they could call hours later to interview you over the phone.
  2. The interview itself is informal; they'll ask about your past experience, what days and times you can work, and what hourly wage you're looking for.
  3. If the manager likes what he hears and sees, you're hired without further evaluation.

In comparison, the typical full-time interview is a strategically planned and formal process:

  1. You wait days or weeks for a reply to your resume submission, which could come in the form of an email, phone call, or you might never hear back at all.
  2. Usually, the first step in the process is a phone interview, which could be conducted during the very first call, or you might receive a call to set up a phone interview. (Sounds kinda quirky, huh?)
  3. After a successful phone interview, you'll visit the employer for an in-person interview with one interviewer or several. You'll also be asked dozens of standard interview questions, and perhaps a few off-the-cuff ones, too.
  4. If that interview goes well, you might get called back for a second in-person interview. And maybe even a third.
  5. If all of the interviews go well, you'll receive a verbal offer followed by a written one.

Of course, this is just a very basic overview of the differences between the interviews you experienced as a teen and college student, and the interviews you'll be faced with in the "real world."

For more detailed overviews, here's a list of resources that will help you prepare for your interviews:

Step-by-Step Job Interview Preparation
Job Interview Basics: Prepare Well to Present Well
Top 5 Interview Questions and How to Answer Them
The Job Search Follow-Up Guide You Can't Live Without

And if that's not enough, check out the Pongo Blog Interview Archive.  

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