THE BLOG

Prepare for a Job: Not an Interview

06/24/2015 12:08 pm ET | Updated Jun 22, 2016

Preparing for a job interview can be hectic under any circumstance but especially for a young college graduate trying out for his or her first real job.

For decades, the conventional wisdom about job interviewing skills has focused more on the style rather than substance of interviewing. Job coaches have offered interview preparation advice that includes such trivial suggestions as proper attire and grooming, make-up tips, tattoo concealment, or appropriate footwear. It seems that when we advise young job seekers about how to prepare for an interview, we tend to emphasize that they need to look the part and say the right things, but perhaps we should really be emphasizing that they need to be the right candidate for the job. Above all, they should possess the right skills and training to meet the employers' expectations. Today's college graduates would be well-advised to prepare for the job, not just the job interview.

There are any number of job interview editorials online that offer style over substance advice and advocate everything from choosing the ideal color of paper for your resume to scheduling the optimum time of day for your interview. But we do our students a real disservice when we advise them to put their faith in a few interview tricks and teach them how to bluff their way through a job interview. Employers and HR directors can see through such ploys and are not impressed by them.

2015-06-23-1435025574-1273195-Combined_Career_Fair.jpgWe really need to be advising our students and graduates to obtain the kind of knowledge and skills that employers are looking for in the modern job market.

For instance, if an employer is seeking someone who can work with Programmable Logic Control systems, this means they are looking for someone with hands-on experience with this type of technology, not just for someone who can use PLC in a sentence. Or if the job announcement says they want someone to run CNC equipment, then they are looking to hire someone who is actually trained in how to operate Computerized Numerical Control technology, not just someone who has successfully "Googled" it in a web search.

While they are still in college, students should be seeking out specific job-related training that will get them noticed in a job interview, rather than just waiting until after graduation and shopping for a specific outfit that they hope will get them noticed and help them look professional. Today's job seekers will fare much better if they focus on the substance of what employers are really looking for in a new employee, and this must be done throughout their college career, not just in the days and weeks following graduation. There are no shortcuts to proper job preparation or quick fixes for a squandered college opportunity.

For the person who is serious about landing a job when going on an interview, I offer the following advice. Rather than spending too much time employing superficial job interview strategies, consider genuinely making yourself the type of candidate an employer is looking for. To help you understand what I mean, here are 10 Consequential Job Interview Tips that should help:

10 Superficial Job Interview Tips Vs. 10 Consequential Job Interview Tips
1. Concentrate on wearing the right attire. Vs. 1. Concentrate on how you can address the employer's workforce needs.
2. Impress the interviewer by arriving on time. Vs. 2. Impress the interviewer by arriving with the correct job qualifications.
3. Be sure to make a good first impression. Vs. 3. Be sure to explain how you will make a lasting impression on their company.
4. Influence them with a strong handshake and good eye contact. Vs. 4. Influence them with your knowledge of specific technology and how it is used in their operations.
5. Explain why you need the job. Vs. 5. Explain why they need you to fill their skilled labor shortage.
6. Be honest and considerate. Vs. 6. Be authentic and deliberate. Help them see that you are the "real deal."
7. Stress your critical thinking abilities and that you are a quick learner. Vs. 7. Stress how your personal workforce preparation will lessen the need for excessive on-the-job training.
8. Use good body language. Vs. 8. Use informed and accurate corporate terminology.
9. Show them the resume and transcript that you brought to the interview. Vs. 9. Show them the proficiencies and strong work ethic that you will bring to their organization.
10. Provide specific examples of your past work experiences. Vs. 10. Provide specific examples of how you will help them be more efficient and productive.

Rather than expecting an employer to hire you just because you earned a degree, earn the employers respect because of the smart decisions you have made in your own job preparation. Invest in yourself and in your future career. Prepare for a job, not just an interview.