Social Media, College Grads and the Interview

One of the aspects of social media in today’s world is the absence of filters.  A spontaneous response to sensory input is output on Twitter or Facebook instantaneously.

In fact, most communication between the younger generation is electronic.  Absent in this is context and human interaction that in turn often leads to a stream of unfiltered unconsciousness hitting the airwaves.

Anyone who has teenagers around the house has also heard the verbal version.  I know as a parent I have a hard time keeping up with the sheer velocity of speech at times.  Combine that with the generational evolution of the English language and I’m often left scratching my head asking myself what I’ve just heard.

Now I’m beginning to see the effects of this social transformation in the workplace as teens become 20’s and college grads becomes first time interviewees.

Yesterday I interviewed a bright young candidate who had recently graduated from a top university and it sounded like what I heard from time to time in my kitchen.  Rapid speech, inability to stay on topic, filling second gaps with superfluous conversation, absence of filter, etc..  By the end of the interview I was exhausted from continually trying to reign them in.  I have three kids in this age band so am more conditioned than most.

One of the challenges of the know-everything-about-everybody TwitterBook generation is going to be understanding that a job interview is not an extension of your e-life.  It’s real life.

In the early days I used to chuckle at all of the HR missives that were sent around the office about questions we could not directly ask a candidate.  In today’s world it’s become irrelevant because you’ll get the answer you’re looking for without really trying.

If you are a recent college grad looking to join the permanent workforce here are some helpful tips for hitting the interview trail.

1.  Play grown-up for a day.  The person interviewing you will likely be a generation older than you.  As such you should approach your interview accordingly, more like talking to your parents than to your friends.  Your days for ruling the world are still a ways off.

2.  Stay focused.  Don’t run on with answers that provide no added value.  Listen carefully to the question, answer it the best you can, and provide examples wherever possible.  Be engaging, but know when to stop.  I’ve found that the little bird on my shoulder always knows when to tell me to stop.

3.  Don’t be embarrassed by your lack of experience.  Companies don’t expect you to have much relevant work experience coming out of school.  But many make the mistake of trivializing prior work experience which sends the wrong message.  If you are interviewing to be an analytical chemist, for example, tell me what you learned about yourself working that crappy service job that will make you a better employee for us.

4.  Research the company.  Here is the perfect place to put those e-skills of yours to work.  You are new at this and haven’t been in the workforce in anything but a temporary role.  If you can familiarize yourself with the company even a little bit and understand how you may best fit in the better off you’ll be.  Most that interview you will also ask if you have questions of them.  Being able to ask one in return shows engagement.

With each and every interview you’ll get better at it.  A little preparation will go a long way to helping land that job you want on your first try.

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About Mike

Mike has been an executive in the biotechnology industry for the past 20 years. Mike is a graduate of University of California, Santa Barbara, earning Bachelors degrees in Business Economics and Geography. Mike also earned his MBA in Finance from California State University, Fresno. Mike is married to the mother of his 3 children and currently lives outside of Boulder, CO. In his spare time Mike enjoys hiking, fishing, skiing, reading and coaching basketball.
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