CP guide to landing a job
College is the waiting room to real life, and as we all practice being adults and learn about future career paths, it is also a nice time to polish the skills that make job seekers into ideal job candidates.
Resumes and portfolios are a strong statement about a person’s qualifications, but jobs are awarded and lost in the interview. Unfortunately, the most pivotal aspect of the hiring process is also the one most overlooked by job seekers and therefore the most unprepared for. Here are some suggestions to nail an interview and stand out from the rest.
Despite what employers may say about getting to know you better or putting a face with a name, the job interview is designed to be a gauntlet. The interview is meant to put candidates in the hot seat and see how they react, so remember to take it seriously. Just because you got invited back for an interview does not mean you are guaranteed the job.
The most elementary rule to the job interview is to dress for success. Fashion-oriented jobs aside, there are very few employers who will be impressed by your “creative” attire, so leave the club wear in the closet. Employers view the job interview as a reflection of how you will conduct yourself in a business setting, so if you dress like you just fell out of bed, they will take it as a mark of disrespect. Business-casual attire leaves a good first impression.
Research the company you are applying to and bring a fresh copy of your resume to the interview. Going into a job interview with no knowledge of the company is like driving blindfolded on the highway; you are exponentially more likely to get smashed to pieces. Most employers will ask you questions about how you will fit into the company if hired, and giving a well-researched answer that reflects the business’ goals and current direction will impress them.
It is always good to bring another copy of your resume to the interview. Even if the employer already has a copy or you are applying for a part-time job at Starbucks, the employers will be impressed by your level of commitment and seriousness, and you will also have an easy reference point should you need to discuss anything noted in your resume.
In the hot seat
Like your mother always said, sit up straight and don’t slouch. Because the interview is a chance for the employer to size you up, remember to give them a commanding presence to behold. When you are greeted by the person who will be interviewing you, stand up tall, look them in the eye, smile and give a firm hand shake.
Throughout the interview, remember to maintain good posture and always look the employer in the eye when answering questions. It may sound like common sense, but far too many people slouch and get comfortable. You are not having a casual conversation with a friend, and the last thing you want to do is leave an impression that you are lazy, disrespectful and can’t meet someone’s eye during conversation.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can wing a job interview. Get a copy of the most commonly asked interview questions, script your answers to them and practice, practice, practice. Practicing with a friend will help calm your nerves about answering these questions in front of someone else, and they will also be able to give you tips on how to make your answers sound more natural and less rehearsed. Below is a list of the most common interview questions:
- Tell us about yourself. Keep it short and simple. This is the chance to address the four connection points: geography, hobbies, education and employment history.
- What is your weakest point? Answer this question honestly. Employers aren’t looking for “I don’t have a weakness.” This question is asked to determine if can fairly assess yourself, so tell them your weakness, and then elaborate on how you are trying to improve it, or explain how it can be made a strength.
- Describe a leadership position you had and how you had to solve a problem. Give an answer that has some weight to it, but don’t embellish. Don’t say something like, “one time my friends and I were at the mall and.” look to any student group involvement for this one.
- How would you benefit our company? This is where all of that research on the company you did comes in. Use this question to highlight how the skills and past experience in your resume mesh with the vision of the company.
- Where do you see yourself in five years? It may not be the best answer to say that you would be with the company. Keep this answer general and focus more on the skills you would like to acquire that are relevant to the position you are interviewing for. It is also OK to highlight personal and life goals you hope to achieve.
Sealing the deal
By the end of the interview, you should be cruising along well, but it is no time to get comfortable.
Every interviewer will ask if you have any questions, and you had better have questions. Ask specific questions about the job such as salary or wages, benefits and typical duties. These questions should not be avoided because it further impresses on the employer that you are serious about getting the position and want to know more about it.
Always finish the interview by asking when the employer expects to make a decision on hiring for the position, ask when a good time would be to make a follow-up call and make the call. Remember to make the follow-up call when you say you will to keep your name in the interviewer’s mind.
The interview is all about conducting yourself professionally and impressing on the interviewer at every opportunity that you are committed to getting the job and are the best candidate for it, so stick to these tips and you’ll never go wrong.
For more information and helpful job searching tips, visit the CU Career Services Web site here
Contact Campus Press staff writer Cassie Hewlings at email@example.com.