The Most Popular Question Asked By New Grads

I’m asked 2 questions the most by new grads embarking on their first job search in Food & Beverage.  So, here’s the first of a 2 part series.

FoodGrads offers Q&A exclusive to Food & Beverage students & grads.  The answers to those questions come from a broad range of industry professionals.

That said, there are some generic questions that I would like to address, because they are so popular.  Here goes;

I have a Degree / Masters / PHD. I am applying to an entry level position.  How do I get an interview?  I know the hiring manager is going to think its a stepping stone (and the reality is it is BECAUSE I have a Degree, Masters PHD and I’m ambitious) but I still need to start my career somewhere.  Help!

You need to get an invite to interview before you start to worry about the interview itself.

The Cover Letter

The truth is that they are still important (at least in this industry) and they could be the difference between getting passed over and getting a chance to interview.

Step 1 – Tailor the letter to the company.  Prove that you want to work there by mentioning their products and why it would be great experience for you.  Perhaps you focused on a particular ingredient or process which relates to their business while you were at school.  Mention a recent article or post on social media that peaked your interest.  Connect with some current employees, ask them some questions (build your network).

Related: Career Conversations on Resume, Cover Letter, Interviewing etc.

Step 2 – Be transparent.  This may not be your dream job (you don’t have to literally point that out!) but convey in a compelling message that the experience you will gain from this position and the company will be invaluable to your long term career goals, and that you are willing to ‘roll up your sleeves and work hard’ to become a valued member of the team.


Tell them you are willing to give the best of yourself to the position, team and company for an extended period of time (we highly recommend at least a year).

Related: Job Hopping is a Great Idea!

The Interview

Well done! Your cover letter and a carefully crafted resume got you an interview.  What now?

Step 1 – Take all the usual advice into the meeting, you know the stuff….be on time, clean your shoes, listen to the questions you are asked and respond appropriately etc. etc.

Step 2 – Research some more!  You have mentioned your eagerness to join their organization via the cover letter, you still have to prove that you are not going to take up all this time to meet, accept an offer, get trained and leave after 2 months! Because this is what the person across the interview table is worried about.

Reiterate why you are committed to gaining valuable work experience within their organization!

Mention some more articles they have published, mention John, the Marketing Director that you connected with (remember, you did some networking at the same time you were crafting your cover letter).  Tell them John was very helpful in answering your questions (you will already have a potential cheerleader on the inside!)

If you are able to convey your career plan (starting with this job) with the hiring manager, you will convince them to give you a chance.  Then it’s up to you to prove yourself.

It’s Not All One Sided.

The value you bring will benefit the employer too, but you need to get the job first in order to prove that.

Step 3 – Maybe, you wrote a blog for FoodGrads or your own blog.  Direct them to that.  Personal branding is important and enables a potential employer to understand your motivations, goals and get to know you a little better.

Remember, your first job is the first step in a succession of ‘stepping stones’ that is your career.  Please DO everything you said you would do in the cover letter and interview once you are in the job.  Roll up your sleeves and do the work!

This job will provide your first reference, the people you work with everyday you’ll remember as your first team mates.

Like any first, you’ll never forget it.

Good luck!

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