ITS A COMMON fear amongst younger professionals; what do I talk about in an interview when I havent held a full-time job yet? What many fresh grads forget is that everyone has to start somewhere — and there are ways to sell yourself even when you have little experience. It just takes a bit of effort and some masterful preparation.
Emphasise all experiences
You may not have gotten paid for your efforts, but that doesnt mean that you didnt do important work as an intern or volunteer. Demonstrate to the interviewer how you excelled in these positions and show what you were able to accomplish. Have examples ready.
Demonstrate transferrable skills
There are important skill-sets that are in demand in most positions — oral and written communication skills, organisational dexterity, time-management. It is vital that you know the importance of these abilities and are able to demonstrate how you have developed them. Use examples from schooling you have done, organisations you have been involved with, and part-time jobs you have held and dazzle the interviewer with your ability to sell yourself.
Be a blank canvas
It might seem like a detriment a lot of the time, but not having a ton of experience can actually be a good thing. Remind the interviewer that you are a quick learner who can be trained to be exactly what the company needs. Make it clear that you are looking for a company with which to grow and advance as a professional. Being new to the workforce means they can train you to do things the way that they like. The best companies will want to nurture your talents and help you develop.
Do your research
The day after I moved to Toronto, I went for an interview with a well-known media company having done no prior research. When I got there, they showed me pictures of Toronto politicians, businessmen and other bigwigs and asked me to identify whom they were. I wanted to run out of the office. I cant stress this enough: know your facts.
Theres NOTHING worse than looking unknowledgeable, misinformed or apathetic. Know the company you are interviewing with as well as trends in the industry. The more you know, the more you can impress them.
Things to do before you enter the room
1. Build up your résumé. The more you take on in life, the more you have to talk about in your interview. Thats why it is so important to get out there — intern, volunteer, work part-time. Dont sit idle.
2. Write out practice answers. Come up with a list of possible questions for yourself and write out answers. The more preparation you put into each answer beforehand, the more precise your response will be once you are in the interview room.
3. Bring notes. Its perfectly acceptable — preferable even — for you to have a pad and a pen in the interview room with you. Make a list of things that you want to underscore and be sure to bring up these points in your interview.