Buchtel College of Arts & Sciences - Careers

Skills - Interviews - Preparation

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RESEARCH: Use all resources available to you (company pamphlets, A&S Careers Program and the Career Center literature, library holdings, magazines, internet, etc.) to determine as much as you can about the prospective employer. You need to learn more than mere company history, size, divisions, products or services, subsidiaries, and profit trends. You need to obtain an understanding of the company’s personality, the company culture: is the atmosphere formal or informal, is the environment stressed or relaxed, are the policies liberal or conservative, is the management team or independent work-oriented. It is important that you keep this information on a disk or in paper format where it can be quickly accessed. Only after thorough employer research and self-assessment will you be able to determine whether there is a possible fit for you within the company.

EVIDENCE: An interview is “Show and Tell” time. Always have extra copies of your resume and references list in your brief-case in case they are requested. Carry your portfolio to showcase pertinent projects that you have produced, either on an actual job, an internship, or as course-work.
[Note: There is NO need for a purse at interview. Leave it in the car or do away with it by carrying personals in briefcase!]

CONFIDENCE: Before others can build confidence in you, they must be aware of your own self-assuredness. Your feelings of self-confidence result from knowing yourself: skills, abilities, strengths, and even weaknesses. You need to be able to discuss your pluses effectively! Accentuate the positive. Be optimistic. Display ambition and a competitive attitude.

ORGANIZATION: Be as prepared as possible for all contingencies. Pack your brain as well as your briefcase! There will be numerous questions asked during the interviewing process. Prepare solid answers to standard questions so you will be able to take the time to organize your thoughts and reply intellectually to those less conventional questions.

RHETORIC: You are leaving academia. You are entering the professional world. This means that you must speak and write as a professional. You must be clear and concise in both your oral and written communications, avoiding slang, vulgarities, and jargon. Use your voice as an instrument for establishing the desired level of confidence and enthusiasm.

DRESS: There is absolute truth in the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” It is critical that your appearance represent you at your best. Clean hair and nails are a given. Polished shoes are a must. A conservative suit for both sexes is the best choice for ALL occasions. If individuality is extremely important to you, allow your demeanor, conversation, and answers to interview questions to reflect the inner you. Adjustments to your wardrobe can take place after you have secured the position!

[Caution should be taken in applying perfumes and colognes as well as in the display of jewelry. Small interviewing quarters do not lend themselves well to overpowering scents or clanking bracelets.]

PLUS . . .

PUNCTUALITY: No excuse will be acceptable (short of your own demise) for being late to an interview. Punctuality emphasizes a positive attitude and a sincere interest in the prospective employer's position. It is best to arrive and announce yourself to the receptionist at least ten to fifteen minutes before the appointed interview time. If the location is foreign to you, try visiting the site unobtrusively a day or so before the interview to familiarize yourself with directions, travel time, and work environment. Arrive well-rested and calm but alert. Leave outer garments, umbrellas, etc. in the reception area.

LISTENING: In order to answer questions clearly and concisely, you must fully understand what is needed by the interviewer. Only by focusing on the interviewer can you successfully retain control throughout the interview and converse coherently, contributing more than a simple “yes” or “no.”

UNITY: Unity is defined as singleness or constancy of purpose or action. Your purpose is to make such a terrific impression that you are guaranteed a second interview, through which you hope to grab the brass ring! This will happen if you sufficiently unite all your personal resources into a positive display of your greatest assets.

SOCIABILITY: The need to be yourself cannot be repeated enough. Try to relax as much as possible under the stressful conditions. Be courteous and friendly, but not phony. Smile and maintain good eye contact. Always mind your manners: firm handshake, use of Mr., Ms., or preferred title, stand until asked to sit, no fidgeting, thank interviewer for his/her time, ask for interviewer’s business card for the follow-up thank you letter you will send within 48 hours of the interview.

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