I recently wrote an open letter to fresh graduates who just passed out from NYSC. I feel like I need to provide clarity to new labour market entrants on employer expectations during interviews. I have had people ask me various questions on what they should prepare for. My method is not to give them generic interview questions and answers, but rather is to tell them what these people are really looking for, so that when the question comes, they would be able to put their best foot forward, knowing the right direction.
Someone with Clarity of Career Direction/Path
A lot of companies are looking for someone whose career path/direction is aligned with where the company is headed to. An entry level candidate is expected to be groomed to grow with the company. No one wants to take someone who will be going the opposite direction. A good way to show this to a prospective employer is to do proper research about the company and ask yourself if your proposed career path is aligned with theirs.
The next thing is to be able to communicate your career direction properly so you don’t look like a confused person. The course I studied is unrelated to HR in any way, but I was able to get my first HR internship role because I was able to convince them that the little HR exposure I got during my SIWES would put me on track to the new direction I want to pursue.
Someone Who is Teachable and Willing to Learn
It’s very hilarious when people list out these traits on their resume and don’t show any of them during an assessment/interview. As a fresh graduate, you should be able to acknowledge mistakes and how you have grown past it. While talking about your strengths, you should also talk about areas you’re looking to learn from if given the opportunity to work with them. Non-verbal cues like a lofty and proud look can sometimes pass the wrong message. When asked a question and you’re not too sure of the answer, don’t feel too bad and give up. Even Einstein didn’t know everything in the world. Be open, ask for immediate feedback so that it won’t repeat itself. Your attitude when you fail can be a selling point to an employer. Some people have answered questions poorly but the way they picked themselves up was so impressing, they were given a second chance immediately and we fell in love with them.
Someone Who’s Flexible and Adaptable to Work
As mentioned earlier, it’s not enough to just write it on the CV that you’re flexible. It’s to show it when asked different questions about helping a colleague or doing something outside your scope. No employer wants someone who is quite rigid and would start struggling when challenges come.
It would be ridiculous for an employer to hire a fresh graduate and expect the person to know it all, so don’t be scared. I had once struggled with interviews. When I finished NYSC, every interview invite was simply a heart attack session. I made up my mind to come to the other side of the table (recruiter), and help new entrants cross to the other side. I will be writing a series on this topic as time goes by.
I encourage you to drop your comments on points you would like me to elaborate on and I will be in the comment section to help out.
I wish you the best in your career journey.