This time of year, college students are making some pretty big decisions for the upcoming summer season. Will they stay where college is located? Will they live in the apartment they are paying rent for or live at home until school starts again? Will they continue being a lifeguard, or is it time for something new and more in correlation with their future choice in careers?

According to a recent study by GoDaddy, prior to this pandemic, one in four seniors graduating college doesn’t feel ready to enter the job market, with 30% of seniors having the opinion that there aren’t any jobs available at all. Should a study be done now, their thoughts on the future job market would be bleaker than before.

During the past few weeks, my daughter, who is finishing her junior year in the nursing program at Viterbo University, decided she would like to live in Wisconsin, work closer to her apartment, and roll smoothly into her senior year.

This decision also came with the possibility of finding a new job closer to home and getting her Certified Nursing License in Wisconsin. Once she was notified her licensure was indeed valid in our neighboring state, the job search started. It only took a short time before she was asked to interview.

Yesterday morning, she traipsed down the stairs in her slippers, coffee cup in hand with today’s newest interviewing ensemble on. Sweatpants and a fancy shirt. I could not help but laugh as she calmly went back upstairs for her interview over Zoom, saying, “I suppose I should brush my hair.”

My, how a disease can change the face of so many things! There was no nervous driving, hoping to not get lost just to get there 10 minutes early.

She, along with many other college students, have trepidation about the job market overall, and interviews can seem stressful due to unknowns: how will they conduct the interview? What will their interviewer be like? And the scariest unknown: what questions will be asked?

A recent poll on Job Journey, Express Employment Professionals’ blog for job seekers, asked readers what interview questions they needed help with most. Below are the top three questions job seekers want help with, as well as guidelines for answering them.

What are your top three strengths and weaknesses?

When listing weaknesses, applicants should avoid saying they’re a perfectionist or they work too hard, as these may come across as cliché and inauthentic. Tell the truth. However, applicants should demonstrate they are successfully working on overcoming these weaknesses.

Focus on your strengths as they relate to work achievements (e.g., a strong attention to detail leading to correcting an error that saved the company millions).

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Most employers want an employee who plans on improving themselves over time. Someone who is in it for the "long haul," and thereby worthy of investment. Applicants must show they have a passion for learning and want to work at the company long-term (perhaps in a management position at some point).

Why should I hire you?

Applicants must show how their values line up with the company culture, that they have a history of success in similar positions, and that they have the soft skills (personality traits and behaviors) necessary to thrive in the position.

Successful job candidates are not necessarily those with the most impressive experience; they are the ones who truly understand what the company stands for, and how they can act as the puzzle piece necessary to solve a need.

Kristen Asleson is owner of Midwest Virtual Assistants. Send comments and ideas to news@postbulletin.com.