3 job interview mistakes Gen Yers make

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(MoneyWatch) If you or someone close to you is part of the class of 2013, you know the job market isn't exactly warming up with the weather. And while 79 percent of students have at least one internship under their belts, 76 percent don't result in a job offer, according to a recent study from Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research consulting firm and the career network AfterCollege.

Bottom line? Every meeting counts. Here are three mistakes most younger job-seekers make when interviewing -- and how to avoid them. (This is part three in a 5-part series on job interview disasters control. Please read part one, Skype disasters: 4 ways to ruin an online job interview, and part two, 5 ways social media can cost you a great new job.)

They go in blind to the meeting. One of the biggest complaints about Gen Yers is that they walk into their interviews brimming with knowledge about themselves but seemingly little background on the company they're hoping to join, said Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding and author of the upcoming book "Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success."

"You're expected to do research on the people you're interviewing with, learn about the industry, and their products and services," he said. Luckily, most of this information is available online. "Before your interview, make sure that you review the company website, make a connection with someone who works at the company to learn more about it from an insider and Google the person you're going to be speaking to," suggested Schawbel. Not only will you be able to speak in specifics about the company, but you'll come across as more confident.

They don't put themselves in the hiring manager's shoes. Schawbel said it's important to consider what you can do for the company, not just what they can do for you, like offer a job. The first step is researching the business (see above) and then figuring out how you can meet their current needs and expressing that in the interview. You can also ask the interviewer what challenges they have in front of them or initiatives they're promoting, and then work in how you'd be a valuable part of that future. Or simply ask about their experience at the company -- people love to talk about themselves.

They act like they're the priority. Part of putting yourself in the hiring manager's shoes is realizing that while this job interview might be at the top of your priority list, it's just one meeting for this person. "This naivete and lack of perspective can come off as impatience and impertinence in an interview -- qualities that are not attractive in a [potential] employee," said Tracy Brisson, founder of The Opportunities Project, a career consulting firm for younger employees. Instead, ask what the next steps are in the process, and when and how you should check in post-interview. Then get a great hand-written "thank you" note into snail mail ASAP, and follow up as instructed.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons user Mando vsl

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    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.