It’s not uncommon for recent or upcoming college grads to feel like they’re not experienced enough for a job that they’re interviewing for. Is this you? If so, that’s okay! We have compiled a list of tips and advice to help you overcome these feelings of anxiety and inadequacy to help you make a good impression during an interview.

Defining Experience

First, let’s talk about experience. Experience is a very broad term that employers use to identify the level of applicant they’re looking for. It can be frustrating as a grad who just spent four years cramming and studying to learn that they also need two years of experience to apply for these entry level jobs. What does two years of experience even look like?

“It can be discouraging to grads to see the ‘year’ requirements because they often have a few internships but not a ton of other paid experience in the field,” says Juan Pablo Cappello, Co-Founder and CEO of Nue Life. “However, if you can market your other experiences such as side jobs, volunteer experience, or academic projects as experiences that give you the skills that you’ll need for the job, the employer is more likely to be lenient about the minimum experience they’re looking for. I’d rather hire someone who’s volunteered and used their industry skills actively in other ways than someone who did a bunch of internships that didn’t prepare them for the job. The bottom line: experience means gaining skills, not a paycheck.”

Identify Your Skills

In order to talk about your skills, you’ll have to know how to identify them. NACE identifies the 8 key skills that employers look for in an applicant regardless of their field or industry. These skills are often able to be gained through any type of job or experience, so not having a job in your field doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have skills.

“Often, those longer term side jobs where you were able to work as a team leader and train staff to do a job can give you better experience than if you were to have done a quick summer internship where you only got to work on one project before it was over,” says Ian Heyman, Founder of Male Drip Protection. “Look at the skills you gained – not just the duties you performed. Skills are going to be the things you can take with you and apply to future jobs while duties are specific to that job. Knowing how to identify and talk about your skills can help you make a good impression even if you don’t have experience in your field.”

Look for Growth Opportunities

If you’re not quite to the stage of applying or interviewing for positions yet, you can look for growth opportunities. If you know you’re not going to have time for internships or jobs in your field because they tend to be unpaid or you simply don’t have time with your academic schedule, try to find another opportunity to grow your skills and provide experience.

“Growth opportunities are everywhere if you look for them,” says Brian Munce, Managing Director at Audacia Home. “Explore volunteer opportunities in your community or join clubs in college to help you prepare for future interview situations. Being able to explain how you actively looked for growth opportunities and the experience you took away can be a game changer during an interview.”

Explore Adjacent Careers

While it can be disheartening, sometimes you won’t have the experience you need for that dream job right out of college. Exploring adjacent careers means that you’re looking to gain those years of experience in the field so you can eventually apply for those dream jobs down the road.

“As an employer, I don’t get offended if an interviewee tells me they’re hoping to use this position to be able to get a different job later on,” says Charles Tichenor IV, Founder of Facebook Disrupter. “The best staff are the ones that are self-motivated by the goal of progressing in their career. Explain how you want to learn and grow in this position so you can achieve your dreams and you might just impress the employer more than someone with more experience.”

Maintain Professionalism

Professionalism is something that can carry you far and help you impress an employer. Professionalism goes beyond dressing nicely and speaking well. Your mannerisms, nonverbal communication, and other behaviors all contribute to the level of professionalism that the employer will consider.

“From the resume to your cover letter and even your interview outfit, you should aim for the utmost professionalism,” says Jayme Muller, Brand Manager at RTA Outdoor Living. “As you’re communicating with them leading up to the interview, make sure your emails are spell checked and you understand exactly what’s expected of you on the interview day. Show up early and display organization and professionalism in how you answer and interact with each person you encounter on your interview day. All of these things can make a great impression on an employer”

Do Your Research

Knowing who a company is can make a big difference in your likelihood of impressing an employer. Do research and take notes on the employer to utilize during an interview so you can show them how committed you can be and give them a reason to give you a chance despite a lack of experience.

“Interviewing is essentially the practice of marketing yourself to an employer,” says Michael Fischer, Founder of Elite HRT. “When we’re talking about marketing a product or service, the goal is to help the consumer see how that product would make their lives better so it’s worth their investment. You have to do the same thing here. If you don’t have a ton of experience, learn as much as you can about the company: their goals, mission statement, values, passions, culture, and more. Market yourself as a candidate that checks all of the boxes as someone who would thrive in their organization.”

Practice Interviewing

While it’s impossible to practice  every question they may ask, a quick Google search will bring up a ton of different questions. These are typically broken down into two different categories: general questions and behavioral questions. General questions will ask you about personal things like your strengths, weaknesses, and why you want the job. Behavioral questions often start with something along the lines of “tell me about a time when….” or “how would you..” or similar phrases.

“Know how to answer the different types of interview questions well,” says Jae Pak, Founder of Jae Pak MD Medical. “There are often hypothetical questions about how you’d handle a situation or questions that look for skills in how you’ve handled things in the past. Try using the STAR method to answer these questions. SWOT stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result. Answering your questions by moving through these storytelling prompts can help you avoid rambling while answering their question completely.”

Dress Professionally

First impressions are so, so important during an interview. Young people often have a limited budget as they’re looking for professional attire, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to dress professionally. Put in the effort to find professional attire to wear to your interview and dress the part for the job.

“Professional attire is different from a ‘nice outfit’,” says Susan K. Shaffer, President of Pneuma Nitric Oxide. “Dressing professionally at an interview can help you make a good impression before they even ask about experience. Business professional attire is probably your best bet when you’re heading into an interview. If a new wardrobe isn’t in the budget, ask friends if you can borrow clothes or check out thrift or second hand stores. Department stores also often have clearance racks of professional clothing. Professional attire doesn’t have to be expensive!”

Give Yourself Credit

If you go into an interview feeling inadequate and like you have nothing to offer, it’s going to be difficult to market yourself as the best candidate for the job. Learn to give yourself credit and recognize the accomplishments you do have on your resume. Think about all of your experiences and have notes about the skills you possess so you don’t forget to talk about them.

“A lot of college students or recent grads walk into interviews feeling like they’re not qualified,” says Jo Wong, VP of Marketing at “The irony is that they’re probably competing against people who are pretty evenly qualified. Having confidence in what you do know and how you could fulfill the requirements of the job can inspire confidence in the employer and help you make a good impression.”


Interviewing can be a scary process for a recent college graduate. How do you make a good impression without experience? It turns out, you probably have experience and just don’t realize it. “Sit down and take a look at all you have accomplished and learn to talk about that in a way that markets your specific skill sets to the employer,” offers Yuvraj Tuli, Founder of Compound Banc.

Knowing who they are and doing your research can play a big role in the interview impression too. Show them how you would thrive and even help improve their organization with your skills, passions, and goals.

Finally, maintain a high level of professionalism. Being professional can carry you a long way in an interview process. If you come off as young and unprofessional based on the way you speak or dress, you probably won’t make it far. Remember to give yourself credit and carry yourself with confidence in each and every interview!