Wisdom Wednesday: Interview Etiquette

We’ve all been there (or will be at some point): Nervous, palms sweating, unsure of what’s to come. All you want is for them to like you. Really, really like you! As you wait watching the receptionist tick away at her computer you begin to zone out…and then suddenly you hear the pitter-patter of shoes coming down the hallway. Your heart skips a beat and you have about 30 seconds until you’re in the spotlight… I’m talking about The Interview!

We have all had our fair share of interviews.  if not, you need to become privy as to what goes over well with potential employers and what could be the nail in your prospective career coffin. Today we will be going over interview etiquette and discussing the tips and tricks you need to know to land your dream job…

Before The Interview

  1. Research the company.
  2. Update your resume. (If possible try to keep it to one page in length.)
  3. Bring: A fresh notepad, a pen and two copies of your resume.
  4. Dress appropriately and avoid any oversized or layered jewelry.
  5. Wear natural makeup and keep your hair simple and out of your face. A few of my favorite interview hairstyles include ballerina buns, low ponytails, and half-up styles.
  6. On the way to your interview, listen to your favorite pump up song to boost your energy and confidence. (It sounds silly, but it always works!)
  7. Turn off your phone and spit out the gum.
  8. Arrive on time (and not too early, 10 minutes is usually best).
  9. Be prepared to answer the following questions:
    Tell me about yourself.
    How has your experience prepared you for this job?
    What is your greatest weakness? (Tip: Whatever your weakness is, always present it as something that you are “working on.” For example, “I’m working on talking less when I am nervous.”)
    Why do you want this job?
  10. Prepare a few questions of your own, such as the following:
    Why is this position open?
    Is there an opportunity for growth with this position? If so, where does it lead?
    What was your career path to this job? 

During the Interview

  1. Be nice to everyone in and around the building. You never know who works at the company or who will be interviewing you.
  2. Give them a solid, confident handshake.
  3. Smile. You want to be approachable and it will ease your nerves.
  4. Be polite and energetic. No one wants to interview a slug.
  5. Maintain good posture.
  6. Don’t talk too much–you don’t want to be a chatterbox, but definitely don’t provide them with one word answers either. Also, do NOT interrupt the person who is interviewing you.
  7. Remember to ask your questions at the end of the interview.
  8. Do NOT ask about money during the first interview.
  9. At the end of the interview, ask when a decision is going to be made and when it is appropriate for you to follow up.
  10. On your way out, be sure to graciously thank them for taking the time to meet with you.


After the Interview

  1. The second you walk out of the interview write a hand-written thank you note and pop it in the mail that same day. Yes, as in snail mail. It may seem old-fashioned, but this is an often-overlooked gesture that is greatly appreciated and highly noted by potential employers.
  2. Follow up if you haven’t heard back by the date specified during the interview. Do not follow up before that date.
  3. Do NOT (!!!) tweet, Facebook post, or blog about your interview. We all know that the first thing a prospective employer does after an interview is Google the interviewee.

Author: Lauren Conrad

Wisdom Wednesday: 4 Rules for Answering the Weakness Question

The one dreaded question that is guaranteed to come up in every interview is “What is your greatest weakness?” Perhaps it’s the interviewer’s way of weeding out candidates to see who is truly prepared to answer this uncomfortable question. Regardless, you can remove some of the awkwardness by prepping for the question and following these rules.

1. Don’t give a cop-out answer

Please don’t give tired answers like, “My greatest weakness is that I’m too much of a perfectionist/workaholic.” Perhaps it is true for you, but unfortunately, it may ring false to the interviewer who is used to hearing these generic answers that come off as a way to dodge the question.

2. Be honest

Dig deep into yourself and figure out what your true weaknesses are at work. Write them down on a sheet of paper, and figure out which ones you can use in an interview. If you state a weakness you’ve struggled with, your answer will sound more honest. Some things that will help you come up with true weaknesses is to look at some of the challenges you have faced in your previous jobs or think about constructive criticism you’ve received from a manager.

3. Avoid deal breakers

Although we mention that you should be honest, it’s also good to remember that there is such a thing as being too honest. You need to avoid weaknesses that will hurt your chances of getting the job. For example, say if you’re applying for an HR position and you say that you’re not good with people, or if you’re trying for a sales job and you say you are bad at negotiating. This doesn’t mean that you have to make up a weakness, but it’s just preferable for you to pick another weakness that isn’t a deal breaker.

4. Talk about your attempts to overcome your weakness

Always talk about the steps you have taken to overcome your weakness. This is your chance to show the interviewer that although you have your flaws, you are proactive and resourceful enough to overcome them. In a way, your effort to conquer your weaknesses will be looked at as a strength.

Wisdom Wednesday: The Psychology of the Job Interview

Very few people say they genuinely enjoy job interviews. That makes sense because in the same way that most people dislike taking tests, a job interview is a test. Even those who feel confident about their professional past, are up-to-date with job requirement skills, and don’t possess many potential liabilities still fear facing the unknown. Not many people are good on their feet, and they know it; therefore, each past failure adds another scar to the wound that never had a chance to heal in the first place. While trying to demonstrate the opposite, the job candidate is shrouded in negative emotions and fears.

On the other side of the desk sits the interviewer, who in most cases is aware of not being very good at interviewing because of lack of interviewing experience—unless the person is, say, a recruiter or some part of the staffing function in the human resources department and who interviews routinely. Very few interviewers have taken formal courses about how to become better at interviewing. Typically, an interviewer is less prepared for, less interested in, and less eager about the interview that’s about to take place than the candidate sitting opposite. So, that’s the background to the candidate selection process, which is critical to each side: for the candidate, the issue is a career changer; for the employer, a crucial and important business decision.

Categorically, you can improve interview performance by solid preparation for it and by gaining an understanding of the interviewer’s needs. Both sides assess each other within minutes, if not seconds; everything thereafter serves only as validation of the initial impression.

When the interviewer says, “Tell me about yourself,” you should not respond with, “Where would you like me to start?” That would be considered a weak answer. Rather, you should take control and summarize in two or three sentences your professional experience in your field, give a brief example of a success story, and end by engaging the interviewer in the form of a question about the interviewer’s priorities. That question should be framed to come across as a friendly yet professional dialogue and certainly shouldn’t put the interviewer on the spot. Keep the dialogue going. Try understanding what’s behind the question and project the positive and unique qualities about yourself that you can share through your success stories.

Once the interview’s over, leave the interviewer with a memorable ending. Shake her hand and say, “Ms. Smith, thanks for your time. May I leave you with a final thought: I’m very enthusiastic about this opportunity and am very interested in this position.” Do you think she’ll remember you? The odds are definitely in your favor.

This was originally posted on Personal Branding Blog.

Wisdom Wednesday: What to do Before, During and After an Interview

Interviewing for a job can be incredibly nerve-racking, especially if you’re new to the job search or it’s been a long time since your last interview.  You’re probably stressing about what to say, what to wear, and what you might be asked.

Don’t panic.  Take the following advice to heart, and you’ll be better prepared to impress the interviewer and stand out from other candidates.

Before an Interview:

Your dress and appearance are the first things an interviewer will see. Present how you fit-in with the company’s culture by following their dress code. If you’re not sure how employees at the organization dress and groom, look at photos on their website for clues or observe their front door at quitting time a few days before the interview.

After choosing an outfit, research the company. Understand the company’s mission, industry information, and the job description. You want to communicate to the employer that you care about this job, and that is why the extra work of researching the company is worth it.

Next, be on time, use appropriate waiting-room behavior, and turn off your cell phone. These are common courtesy tips that are often overlooked. Consider occupying yourself with something business-like, such as reading your notes about the company.

Once you meet the interviewer or interviewers, share hands firmly, maintain good eye contact, and act interested. This tells the employer that you are listening closely and have good social skills.

During an interview:

It’s very important to communicate your skills during an interview. You may feel like you’re bragging, but this is the time to do so. Tell the interviewer why they should hire you and why you want the job. The job descriptions usually list qualities and qualifications they are looking for, so point out skills or experience you have that you know the employer seeks.

When the interviewer asks tough questions, answer them with confidence. It’s absolutely acceptable to take a moment to reflect and gather your thoughts. They would rather you give an insightful and meaningful answer than a quick thrown together response. If you’re confused by the question, it’s okay to ask the interviewer to rephrase or clarify the question.

Usually at the end of interviews, you’ll have the chance to ask questions. Be prepared with a handful of appropriate questions to ask the interviewer about the company or the job. This demonstrates that you’re interested and care to learn more. Also consider writing your questions down on paper, so you have something to reference. Below are a few great questions to ask during an interview that will help you impress a potential employer:

  • Why do you enjoy working for this company?
  • How would you describe the work environment?
  • How would you describe the company culture?
  • What types of opportunities are available for career development such as continued learning?
  • Is there room for advancement?

After an Interview:

When the interview is coming to a close, thank the interviewer by name, express your interest, and repeat why you are a good fit for the position.

After the interview, but on the same day it occurred, send the interviewer an email to thank him or her for their time. Consider mailing a handwritten thank-you note as well.

Maintain contact with the employer. If you agreed to call back at a specific date and time, be sure to mark it on your calendar.

Though the candidate’s resume, cover letter and job application give interviewers an overview of their background and skills, the interview may be the best chance the candidate has to make a favorable impression. It is the last point of contact before a hiring decision is made and for this reason it is important to be well-prepared and confident. The tips given above can help you succeed at your next interview and get the job of your dreams.

Author: Ashley Roggenbuck

Source: http://blog.jist.emcp.com/stellar-questions-ask-interviews/

Wisdom Wednesday: Career Fair Advice

Career fairs are all about being remembered. You bring a unique set of skills and knowledge to a company and you deserve to be remembered. A little bit of preparation can go a long way in sticking out among a sea of candidates.

1. Create An Elevator Pitch

Having a good elevator pitch is crucial at career fairs where time is limited and attention spans are short. An elevator pitch allows you to communicate your best qualities in the shortest amount of time (about the amount of time you spend in an elevator, hence the name). Make sure to include the following:

  1. Your name
  2. What you are studying/where your skills lie
  3. What your background is in, especially if it’s different from your major
  4. Your interests
  5. A tidbit about the company. This shows that you know the company and you did your research. Employers don’t want to waste their time, and this lets them know that you came prepared because you are serious about a career with their company.

2. Bring Your Resume

Being prepared for the career fair means having copies of your resume on hand. It is suggested that you bring at least fifteen, depending on the size of the fair and the number of companies you are interested in (you should look at a list of participating companies beforehand to get a good idea of this number).

3. Make Yourself Memorable

Once you have an employer’s attention, make your conversation memorable, but don’t draw it out. A short but interesting conversation is more likely to stick out in an employer’s mind than a long but pointless conversation. You don’t have to mention every interesting thing you’ve ever done, but mention at least one thing they can remember about you—where your last job was or an interesting class you took last semester. This can be part of your elevator pitch. You are different and interesting, so give employers a glimpse into what makes you a unique candidate.

3. Get A Business Card

Getting a business card from a potential employer is your ticket forward in the hiring process for this company. Be sure to send a quick email after the fair (preferably that same evening or the morning after) to follow up and restate your enthusiasm for the company. Avoid sending a vague email. Employers will only remember you if you make them remember you. Mention something you talked about during the fair (this will be helpful if you followed the third tip).

4. Wear Appropriate Attire.

Conservative business attire is essential because image and first impressions are critical. Know what is the expected attire of your profession and dress accordingly. It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Employers suggest avoiding clothes that are too trendy or ostentatious. Your goal should be to dress conservatively and to promote yourself as the qualified professional that you are.

Wisdom Wednesday: Power Posing

A common concern of recent graduates entering into the world of work is that they don’t feel prepared. After graduation, life changes dramatically from preparing for your dream career to actively pursuing your dream career. This can be scary for some people and often it can seem overwhelming. You might feel that you are under-qualified and outside of your comfort zone. This is a natural way to feel about something that you have never done before, but it is important to overcome this lack of self-confidence. Employers want to hire the candidates that seem confident and enthusiastic. You may not feel confident at first, but with practice you will. Until then, a valuable piece of advice for newly graduated students is to fake it until you make it.

“How can I fake it?” you might ask. Well, one way is to practice “power posing”. Recent research has found that power posing can reduce the stress hormone cortisol and lead to an increase in testosterone. What does that mean? It means that standing in an assertive position can lead to an increase in feelings of confidence and a decrease in anxiety. Even when you move out of that physical position, the hormone changes will linger. Status and authority are nonverbally demonstrated through height and space. So stand tall, pull your shoulders back, widen your stance, and hold your head high.

Power poses are also linked to better performance. According to a study led by Amy Cuddy, an associate professor of business administration at Harvard Business School (Watch Cuddy’s TED Talk on power poses below) power posing also increases people’s tolerance for risk and pain, and their ability to think abstractly. Being able to take risks effectively and think abstractly are qualities that employers are looking for,  so power posing can be worth the effort for recent graduates who are actively seeking employment.

So how can you start practicing this technique? Here are three simple tips that you can start practicing now that may lead to a more confident and empowered you tomorrow.

1. Stand Tall
Standing tall and straight with your head up and shoulders back will make you feel powerful and confident before any form of evaluation, including a job interview. This will boost your self-confidence and help you to leave a positive impression on your potential employer.

2. Occupy Space
Just like birds make themselves bigger and more powerful by spreading their wings, you, too, can convey more power if you take up more space. When feeling nervous or doubtful, people often condense themselves when sitting down and take up as little space as possible, but you really need to do the opposite. When waiting for an interview, always sit up straight and try to avoid crossing your arms and legs. This will allow you to occupy as much space as possible and help you to feel like you deserve to be there.

3. Pretend You’re a Super Hero
Standing with your feet apart and your hands on your hips may feel odd at first, but this is a power pose in its essence. Practicing this position for just two minutes before any circumstance about which you may feel uncomfortable, like a job interview, will alter the way you feel about yourself. Cuddy wrote, “This isn’t about what your body language is communicating to others; it’s about what your body language is communicating to you. Your body language is changing your mind, which changes your behavior, which changes your outcomes.”

So, when you go into your next job interview and you feel like you don’t deserve to be there, remember that it only takes two minutes to feel powerful and confident in your abilities. When you stop feeling like you are underqualified, you get out of your own way and allow potential employers to get a better sense of who you are and what you can bring to the table. Change the way you think about yourself and you will change the way that you are evaluated by others, opening up a multitude of opportunities for success.

Job Searching Tips for College Graduates

It’s finally that time. Graduation is right around the corner… what’s next?

Graduation is just around the corner for many seniors and with this accomplishment comes the added stress of searching for a job. This can be an overwhelming endeavor and many students struggle with standing out among hundreds of other college graduates that are applying for the same jobs. Fortunately, there are several ways that you can market yourself and prepare for the job searching process before graduation that will minimize this anxiety and help you succeed in the workforce.

1. Stand out from the crowd.

You’ll probably be competing with dozens, if not hundreds, of applicants for most jobs. This means it is crucial to create effective self-promotion materials. Here are some suggestions:

  • Tailor your resume and cover letter to highlight education, skills and experience relevant to the position.
  • If your work history is limited then highlight your education, volunteer or internship positions, awards, organizational memberships, etc.
  • Have strong references and make sure they are willing to speak or write a letter of recommendation for you.
  • Proofread everything carefully.

2. Do your homework.

Before applying, research the company to make sure it’s a good fit for you. If you do get called for an interview, follow these guidelines:

  • Make sure you understand the company and prepare several informed questions.
  • Research your position and know how it fits into the overall organization of the company.
  • Investigate the company’s social media presence to understand how they market themselves.

3. Demonstrate professionalism.

Employers are forced to do a lot with just a few resources, so they seek employees who seem ambitious, appear professional and are willing to work hard. A few tips:

  • Review your social media presence and remove photos or other materials that depict you unprofessionally.
  • Show up on time for interviews dressed professionally with copies of your resume.
  • Be prepared to answer many questions about yourself and how you might react in different scenarios.
  • Make sure that your resume is truthful. Employers will check with your references so it is best not to exaggerate in any area.

4. Lower your expectations.

You may have to settle for employment in an unrelated field or at a low salary while continuing your search. The good news is it’s easier to get a job when you have a job. Also, it will give you the opportunity to network and gain new skills that may lead to a more fulfilling position later on

5. Use the right tools.

Many job search engines are available to help you weed through the hundreds of job postings out there. Some list positions posted by employers. Other sites post available positions from company websites and other job search websites. Sites can vary and may include tools that allow you to:

  • Search for positions by job title, career level, full-time/part-time status, field, location, or salary.
  • Post your resume or create a profile outlining what you are looking for so employers can find you if you are a good candidate.
  • Set up alerts so that you will be contacted when new jobs meeting your criteria are posted.

Popular job search sites include:

  • AfterCollege– entry-level jobs and internships for college students and recent graduates.
  • USAJOBS.com — the U.S. Government’s official job site.
  • LinkedIn — a professional networking site that also includes a job search engine.
  • Hound — shows jobs from employer websites only.
  • Indeed — a site that posts jobs from thousands of company career sites and job boards.
  • LinkUp — contains only job listings from company websites.
  • Dice — targets technology jobs.

The GOAL Center can provide invaluable services to aid students with all of these aspects of the job searching process. With the help of a Student Success Coach students can create a resume that helps them stand out from other applicants. Students can participate in mock interviews to practice self-promotion in these high stress situations that will make it easier to come across as confident to potential employers in the future. A Student Success Coach is also available to help students search through job postings and provide application assistance if needed.

It takes hard work and persistence to earn a degree, and you may have to work equally hard to launch your desired career. Navigating a job search can be frustrating, but there is no need to face it alone! Take the right steps and make the most of your efforts by taking advantage of the many resources the GOAL Center can offer you.