Interviewing as a Recent Grad

175x225_EppenHeadshotAuthor: Peter Eppen
Title: Academic Chairman, School of Business
Company: Wisconsin Lutheran College

The two biggest mistakes recent college graduates make when interviewing for new positions has to do with what is termed “locus of power” and “research.”

Locus of power refers to who in the interview has the “power” in the room.  Most interviewees believe that the company or interviewing manager has the power and, in my humble opinion, that is just not true.  The company can offer you a job, but ultimately you are the only person in the room who can accept the offer.  They cannot make you take the job.  You may choose to get up and walk away from the table and never work at that company.  Most students get really nervous because they want a job and they are afraid the manager may not “give” them the job.  If you remember that the locus of power resides in you, you will be more relaxed, better prepared to answer questions and more likely to get the job.

Almost no candidates do meaningful research before going into an interview.  By doing a simple Google search of the company, reading the company’s most recent annual report and looking at the latest news releases, you will learn a great deal about the market, the industry and the company.  This allows you to:

  1. appear informed and intelligent.
  2. speak meaningfully about current company strategies, tactics and challenges.
  3. form meaningful questions to the interviewer.
  4. give the interviewer something to talk about during the interview (playing an active role rather than a passive role).

As I mentioned earlier, almost no candidates conduct this type of research.  If you are willing to invest the time, you will almost certainly stand out in the pool of candidates.


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