WASHINGTON, January 3, 2014 — When preparing students for post-college success, College Works Painting notes just how important an interview is as a student prepares to enter the real world. The 20-year-old company, known for teaching undergrads “how to manage their very own painting business,” has put this plan to action with an intern program that teaches business management to 2,500 students yearly. The spots in this program have become so coveted that over 50,000 apply.
In the real world, the resumé plus experience gets an applicant in the door. The interview sells a company on the applicant’s skills.
While internships are helpful hands-on experience, students have to know how to sell themselves during the interview process. Breaking through common faux pas and misconceptions, College Works Painting cites four keys to a strong job interview. According to the company, these include:
1. Know what makes you stand out
Many students fail to impress interviewers because they offer generic responses to questions. Their major selling points are quite similar to those of other interviewees, which means that they probably fail to shine during the interview process.
“When you’re interviewing for a job, it’s important to be your own advocate. Many students are afraid to brag, or just haven’t really taken the time to figure out what makes them special and unique as they interview. Because of this, they explain that they have good organizational skills or are self-motivated. These traits are great, but they’re not really going to help you stand out in an interview process.
“Instead, talk about the computer programs you know. Discuss the hands-on experience you’ve had. Show what really makes you different,” states a representative from College Works Painting. This is important advice from an organization that also values community service.
They also agree noting, “A student shouldn’t approach an interview as a way to boast about their accomplishments, but there’s a difference between bragging and letting an interviewer see what you bring to the table. You’ve worked hard to obtain your skills. Now it’s time to let them shine.”
2. Summarize well
Interviews are typically short, which means that a young person will need to get comfortable explaining what he or she brings to the table without droning on and on. Prior to entering the interview, that individual should make it a point to come up with a few concise ideas about why he or she would shine in this role. An interviewee should be able to express these points clearly and effectively, without taking up too much of the interviewer’s time.
“If you just keep going on and on, trying to drive a point home, the interview will not be an effective one. But when you really take some time to study your own accomplishments and passions, you’re able to make it clear to a hiring manager why you would be an asset to their team without wasting their time. Though it may seem strange, practice what you’re going to say in the interview before you get there.”
Many students use the drive over to an interview to rehearse aloud what they will say when they sit down across from a hiring manager. This gets them comfortable saying these words, and helps to prevent them from stumbling in the interview, even if they start to feel nervous.
College Works Painting Advises: Do Your Homework
3. Beef up that resumé
The professionals at College Works Painting explain that a strong resumé is an important complement during a job interview. Chances are that the hiring manager will reference a student’s resumé throughout the interview, so up-to-date version of the document is key. Also, do not forget to tailor the resumeé to meet the job description. If it is clear that this is the resumé used to apply for any number of job openings, they may lose interest.
“To maximize the effectiveness of your resumé, you’ll want to echo the words that are used in the job description. If they say they’re looking for content creation abilities, use this phrase in your resume. You want to draw a direct line between your skills and what they’re looking for. Don’t make them guess or imagine why and how you would work within that team. Make it very obvious,” states a representative from College Works Painting.
4. Come prepared
“Hiring managers want to put someone in place who already knows the company and the business well,” notes a staff member at College Works Painting. “They don’t want to have to spend hours upon hours training you. When you show that you know exactly how the business operates and what matters to that company, you make yourself into a desirable asset. Regardless of how well you think you know that field and that company, it is always a smart idea to spend 10 or 15 minutes studying the business’s website prior to heading in to an interview.”
This is probably one of the best ways to nail an interview. Being prepared provides comfort and confidence in the process. It also helps eliminate the dreaded “umm….” moment where a student can’t come up with an answer. Knowing exactly what that company stands for, who they serve, and what they are currently working on, helps a student to speak more intelligently during the interview. In order to wow the interviewer, conduct thorough research about the company prior.
These four tips aren’t everything you need to succeed. But they are great reminder of what it takes to stand out today in a crowded job market.
Always seek help. Find a mentor. Find a sponsor. Find a company like College Works Painting that is willing to invest its time and resources in preparing someone for success.
Jeff Barrett is an experienced columnist and digital public relations professional. He has been named Business Insider’s #1 Ad Executive on Twitter, a Forbes Top 50 Influencer In Social Media and has contributed to Technorati, Mashable and The Detroit Free Press.
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