Job interviews don’t have to be scary, new grads. Just think of them as conversations.

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You’ve just completed two, or four, or more years of education and are ready for that next big life step: Finding a “real” job.

It can be intimidating. Even if you’ve worked part-time gigs, this job is the Big One, the one you’ve been studying for.

Interviewing, especially, can seem like a challenge. It can even feel worse than an exam — one you can’t study for and that has higher stakes than most exams.

But the good news is that while you are in a way going for a “passing grade,” a job interview isn’t an exam at all. It’s a conversation in which you are trying to make an authentic human connection.

Fundamentally, a job interview is just talking with someone.

In fact, you don’t even need to do most of the talking. After all, the best conversations feature a mutual give-and-take. You’ll want to come prepared with intelligent questions and be ready to listen as much as or even more than you talk.

When you do speak, try to use language your listener is familiar with and will relate to. Smart job hunters take the trouble to find out the buzzwords or jargon of their industry, and then learn how to use these terms in authentic ways. It’s a great trick for seeming like an insider before you actually are one. Don’t overdo it, however. You want to sound natural. This might also be a good time to consider whether “upspeak,” so popular on campuses, is going to be appropriate to your new professional life.

Here’s a point you might not have thought of: Your interviewer may be even more nervous than you are. Hirers who are relatively new to their positions or who are naturally reserved might find it difficult, even exhausting, to conduct meetings with stranger after stranger. So devote some energy into putting your interviewers at ease. You do this mostly by relaxing yourself. You might also try, within reason, mirroring their body language, e.g., leaning forward when they do. Again, just remember to keep it natural.

One final tip about relaxation: While you are striving to be (or appear) at ease, do remember that you still need to be your best self. In other words, don’t get too laid back!

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use and of the novel “The Paris Effect.” Email her at