Monthly Archives: July 2015

Delivering a Knock-Out Interview

You did your homework on the company you applied to, you sent a well thought out and organized resume and cover letter.  Then, the phone rang, you have an interview!  Landing an interview is a huge step, but you have your work cut out for you, it is now time to prepare to sell yourself.  When you get the call, listen carefully; write down all of the pertinent information, date, time, location and interviewer.  Make sure you are free, repeat the information so you know that it is correct, then write it down, put it on your Google calendar, or anywhere else that will help you remember.

Once you arrive at the interview, it is time to present yourself as the person for the job.  Here are some tips:

  1. Be on time, actually, be 10 minutes early.
  2. Shut your cell phone off, or don’t even bring it with you.
  3. Dress appropriately.  You should always dress one level nicer than the dress code.  If they dress business casual, wear a tie, if they wear ties, wear a suit.
  4. Let the front desk person know you are there, reaffirm the name of your interviewer, thank him or her for their time.
  5. Make sure you are not chewing gum, or a mint.
  6. Be prepared with an informative statement about yourself, companies you have worked for, transferable skills, etc.
  7. Be positive and kind, talk about your successes in your career.
  8. Ask questions about the job position and the expectations.
  9. Follow up with your interviewer; send a thank you note as well as calling a few days later.

5 Simple Interviewing Tips

It is important to stand out at every level of applying for a job, the application, resume, but especially the interview!  Be prepared and remember these tips.

  1. Do not provide references without first checking with them.  Not everyone you like always feels the same way, so make sure you discuss putting them as a reference before actually doing so as well as making sure they will give accurate feedback and current information.
  2. Always turn your phone OFF!  An interrupting phone call or text can ruin the positive energy of an interview.  Not even carrying your phone in would be the best.
  3. Make sure you have the address of your interview destination before leaving.  If possible, drive by ahead of time so that you know how long it will take you, where you will park and any complications you will encounter on your way.
  4. Leave your kids at home.  Even when picking up an application, if at all possible, find a place for your kids to be during that time so that you can focus and show your professionalism.
  5. Practice responses to common interview questions ahead of time.  There are all sorts of resources available for this online.  Practice in front of a mirror or with a friend, but make sure to practice, practice, practice!

Interview Tips for Recent College Graduates

by Andy Chan

  We teach college students how to interview all the time. I was recently asked for the unique things that today’s college student must know and do to succeed in interviews. What I realized is that because students have almost no job interview experience, students don’t know what they don’t know. With help from our career counselors, here’s my list of Top 10 interview tips for college students.

1. Do your homework on the job, the organization, the competition and the industry. Reading the website is the minimum. Tap your college and/or high school alumni network and your parents’ network to get the inside scoop. Most students don’t read business magazines, newspapers or trade journals, so when you do, you’ll stand out from the crowd. Doing this homework will prevent you from asking really obvious — and naïve — questions.

2. Anticipate and prepare for the typical questions with strong personal answers. “Tell me about yourself.” “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” “Tell me about your greatest accomplishments.” “Share a time you failed and how you responded to the situation.” “Why do you want this job?” “Why this organization?” Have your answers and examples so well rehearsed that it’s natural.

3. Develop 5-7 adaptable stories from your resume related to the job you’re seeking. Start with the situation by describing the context and problem. Then explain what you did to improve the situation and describe the results in quantifiable terms. This demonstrates that you understand the importance and the impact of your personal contributions. With these stories prepared in advance, you can adapt them to various questions.

4. Frame your answers to show how you will add value to the organization. Many students too often focus on why they want the job, what they will get out of it, and why it will be good for them. Turn the tables and explain how and why you can and will benefit the organization. Find ways to tactfully mention what they’d gain if they hired you (or how much they’d miss out on if they didn’t).

5. Use the right vocabulary. Surprise an employer by actually being able to translate how your academic or extracurricular experiences have helped to prepare you for the role you’re interviewing for — using words in the job description. Very few students can do this. For example, if you’re a theatre major, describe how you managed and promoted a play or musical production using your project management, creativity and sales skills.

6. Prepare two or three ‘go-to’ questions that demonstrate you prepared in advance and your strategic thinking. There’s a difference between “Tell me about the culture” and “Tell me about how major decisions are made here and provide an example of a recent decision and the process used.” Or, “I read that the organization is changing its strategic direction. How will that affect this business unit?” Avoid questions where answers are on the website.

7. Practice interviewing out loud with mentors, adult fans or even in the mirror. Most students have not done many (if any) job interviews – and definitely not when under pressure. It’s important to hear the words you intend to speak, including the tone, emphasis, inflections and facial impressions, so that you don’t blow it when it really counts. It’s rare to get a second chance.

8. Demeanor, humble self-confidence, personality and enthusiasm really matter. Smile! Allow your voice tone, words and body language to communicate your genuine excitement about the opportunity. It will be a significant decision factor for your interviewer. If you don’t, your interviewer will question if you really want the job or if you’re going to be committed to the organization. This is one of the top reasons why people do not get job offers.

9. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Many students have difficulty getting excited about entry-level jobs because they feel overqualified or discouraged that the work will not be fulfilling. In each interview, your primary objective is to get invited back for another interview and to eventually secure an offer. As you progress through the process, many find that the job and organization are much more interesting than they originally thought.

10. Finish strong and follow up. Always close with a final statement that makes it crystal clear that you are genuinely excited and interested in the opportunity, including why you’d be a great hire and fit for the job and organization. Clarify next steps and the timeline. Email a thank you note less than 24 hours after the interview while it is still fresh on your mind. Articulate your fit and why they should hire you specific to the interview conversations. Every interviewer expects a thank you note from each candidate, so no note is a sign of no interest and no professionalism. To really stand out, also send a neatly hand-written thank you note soon after the interview.

Source: Huffington Post College: Top 10 Interview Tips for New College Graduates, by Andy Chan

Interview Tips to Land the Job

TravelYour resume is polished and out there, you have been making networking connections like it is your full time job and you now you have landed an interview! After you congratulate yourself, panic sets in. Relax; proper preparation is all you need to ace this!

The more you prepare for the interview, the more comfortable and effective you will be interviewing.

1. Practice
Practice for your interview by preparing responses to typical job interview questions. Practice in front of a mirror so you can check your body language or with a family member or friend so you can receive performance feedback.

2. Prepare
Prepare to use specific examples to highlight your skill set. Provide evidence of your work successes to promote yourself as the best job applicant.

It is also important to have prepared questions to ask the employer when the interviewer asks.

3. Study
Research the employer and their industry to prepare yourself when/if you are asked, “What can you tell me about our company?”  Try to relate what you have learned about the company when answering your interview questions.

Remember the interviewer’s name and use it during the job interview.

4. Dress for the Job
When preparing for your interview, ensure you are dressed appropriately and that your appearance is neat and tidy.  If you are bringing a portfolio of your work, prepare it so that it looks professionally done and not something thrown together at the last minute.

5. Be Early
To be on time for an interview is to be ten minutes early. Prepare for this by driving the route you will take at the same time of day, prior to the interview. Know exactly where you are going in the building and who to ask for when you arrive.

6. Stay Composed
Before and during the job interview it is important to try to stay as calm possible. Your body language says as much about you as your answers to the questions you will be asked. If you prepare properly, you will naturally be more confident and comfortable in your responses.

Pay close attention to the questions being asked, listen to the full question. Maintain eye contact with the interviewer to show that you are taking the interview seriously and are focused. If you get thrown off your game, take a second to regroup. The interview isn’t a race.

7. Demonstrate Your Knowledge
When you answer the interview questions, relate what you know about the company and industry into your answers.  Work to match your career achievements to what the company is looking for in the position you are interested in.

8. Follow Up!
Always follow-up with a thank you note that restates your interest in the position. This is a perfect time to include details you did not have a chance to mention at the time of the interview. If you had multiple interviewers, send a personalized note to each of them. Electronic thank you notes are also acceptable if this is a form of communication your interviewer(s) is comfortable with.

Graduation Is a Qualification for a Career, Not an End to Education

GraduationAcross the country, there have been celebrations honoring graduates from all levels of education. Some may feel a relief; an understanding that their education is complete, learning is over. This could not be further from the truth. With today’s rapid changes in technology, including hardware, software, devices and so on, it is more important than ever to continue learning throughout your professional life. New skills will need to be added to our arsenal of ability as well. While college is considered to be the signal that one is prepared for the real world, in order to maintain it, we need to do whatever it takes to stay on top.

It is never safe to assume that we are done with education because it truly never ends. We are always going to need to learn new topics in order to stay on top of our industry and refine skills. Learning can be as simple as reading industry publications, practicing current skills (such as typing), taking an online course, reading related topic books to taking courses toward an advanced degree.

We must understand that we are all students in life and we need to keep learning in order to remain useful in the economy today. This advice is not only useful for finding a job and holding it, it’s also useful for personal development. We live in a world where we are taught in a structured environment, and the problems that we face are becoming less and less structured. Teaching yourself to learn and learn constantly for personal and professional development can help you succeed in the professional world.