Erica Cardenas

Got your diploma? Now what?

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Question #2 – What are your academic achievements?

This may seem like a straightforward question, but actually requires a careful answer and a bit of spin doctoring. Many times graduates will give too much literal information about their achievements, like being elected president of the chess club or treasurer of a fraternity. Instead, make it sound more broad and impressive, “I was an officer in several clubs and honor societies. I also worked in several research labs and am an author of two research papers, one of which I have brought with me today.” This is not encouragement to lie, but to simply make the truth sound a little better.

Question #3 – How would your professors describe you?

This question requires a bit of planning; you may even want to prepare by asking one of your favorite professors how he or she would answer this. Plus, you never know whether the interviewer will ask for a reference from the professor you have just quoted. So, prepare a game plan by approaching a professor you have a good relationship with and request a reference letter. Do this in advance. This also serves to help you learn something new about yourself or your skills from discussing this with your professor.


When it comes to interviewing, preparing questions in advance, practicing and thinking of all possibilities is always a good thing.  But what about those other interview tips to increase your hire-ability?

Melissa Hawksworth Maxson is the talent recruiter for CH2M HILL in Tempe, a global engineering firm that employs over 40,000 workers worldwide. She works in the new college graduate market on providing new grads with guidance, such as interviewing skills and how to make themselves more marketable to prospective employees. She Maxson coaches college graduates on how to stand out above other qualified candidates.

“Prior to an interview, it helps to thoroughly review the job description and your résumé,” says Maxson, “[and] look at courses, internship experience or other jobs and directly speak to how [they] relate to the position you are seeking, as well as showcase what skills you can offer.”

Maxson advises graduates to be prepared for an interviewer to ask about strengths and weaknesses. Think through how your strengths can be applied to the position you are seeking, and when it comes to weaknesses, discuss them as areas you want to make better.

“It says a lot to be able to admit where you have to grow, but [it] says even more when you can articulate what you need to do to improve …” Maxson says.

Once you’ve survived the interview, it’s always good to ask when you can expect to hear from someone – it shows a level of interest above and beyond shaking hands and thanking the interviewer for his or her time. Also, be sure you have a point of contact for follow-up questions, including status, whether it is a recruiter or the person who conducted the interview.

Interviews sometimes end with, “Do you have any questions for us?” Do not feel obligated to ask questions if what you had planned to ask was answered, but do explain that your questions were answered and provide a few examples of what you learned during the interview that answered those questions.

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