Dress for Success…Without Breaking Your Fragile Bank Account

We’ve all been there. We were even warned that it would happen; that we would eventually face the sad reality that we’re actually living and breathing the stereotype of a broke college student. You’ve probably found yourself heating up your Ramen Noodles in the microwave, while looking for spare change in your couch cushions, just so you can have somewhat of a social life and see the $1 movie playing in the UC.

When it comes down to it, being broke can become a pretty stressful problem you have to deal with.

This stress becomes amplified when you finally get that interview, or attend a job fair, and you realize you’ve yet to begin building your professional wardrobe. How does one make money when one cannot get the job because one does not have the appropriate wardrobe in order to land that job?!


It’s a cycle that adds on to the stress and often discourages students from trying to get the job they really want. That’s why we’re here to tell you to stress no more! Here are some alternatives we’ve found for when it comes to getting that budget-friendly professional wardrobe.

Maybe you have some old dress clothes from your parents, or found a suit at the thrift store. I know it’s not the most ideal option, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Take what you already have and try to modify it so it looks like it was made to fit you. There are some great inexpensive tailors that can get the job done and get you ready for that interview!

Although we would all love to sport the latest Calvin Klein business wear, we know that our bank accounts would probably not cooperate with a purchase that hefty. Try to focus on the basic elements you need (not want). You probably don’t need 10 different dress shirts and 3 pairs of shoes when you’re just starting out. Start with the absolute basics and build up from there once you’ve finally secured a job. Many stores like H&M, J.C. Penny, Kohls and Sears, just to name a few, offer a good variety of professional attire for a reasonable price. Get your basics and only buy what you absolutely need!

One benefit that actually comes from being labeled a broke college student, is that handy student ID card. What most people don’t know is that your ID card can get you lots of discounts! Stores like Charlotte Russe, J. Crew, Banana Republic, and ASOS all offer students discounts, so take advantage of them! (Here’s a list of more discounts that your student card can get you! http://bit.ly/1gsRZct)

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Another option is to go through your closet and get rid of things you no longer wear or need. You can try to sell these items at stores or online and use that money towards your new professional closet! Ebay offers used clothing at reasonable prices and you can sell your old stuff at the same time! You can also search for your area to see if your community offers any local clothing swaps!  Freecycle.org, is a site that aims to encourage people to reuse and recycle their old clothes. You can find your nearest group on their website and start saving your money!

Universities all over also usually offer some resources when it comes to getting your wardrobe ready for professional events or interviews. UW-Whitewater has the “Warhawk Success Closet” that gives all students the chance to get free professional business attire that has been donated to the university. The Warhawk Success Closet will be held on September 24th and 25th from 11am-5pm in the University Center (9/24 UC69 and 9/25 UC264).

Now there’s really no excuse for wearing jeans and sandals to the next career fair. Keep these simple tips in mind and you’ll be dressed for success without enduring the guilt of breaking your bank!

Tips For Making the Most of a Career Fair

With the career fair coming up soon, here are some tips for you:

Before the Career Fair

11. Research the companies that you want to speak with. Before you go to the career fair, you should do some basic research on what the company does. This way you can spend your time telling the company representative about yourself, rather than asking them questions about what their company does.

When choosing which companies to speak with, be open minded; just because you have never heard of a company doesn’t mean that they don’t have something great to offer. Make sure that you prioritize the companies that you want to speak with, you don’t want to run out of time.

22. Prepare questions to ask employers. After you have researched which companies you want to talk to, come up with some questions that you have for them. These could be specific to positions that they have open, or more general questions about what it is like to work there. You should also come up with some general questions for companies that catch your eye at the fair that you had not already researched.

At the Career Fair

3. Attend the Career Fair alone. However, don’t push yourself. If this is your first career fair, you don’t want to discourage yourself by being uncomfortable. If you have never been to a career fair, instead of walking in and talking to someone right away, walk around the room for a little and get a feel of the environment. Once you are comfortable, start talking to an employer.

4. Treat it like an in-person interview. Proper business attire is crucial, no bold colored blazers! Make sure that you are acting professional the entire time you are in the room. The employers are always watching and if you just had a great conversation with them but then went and goofed off across the room, they may notice that and count it against you.

35. Remember that the employers are people too. Don’t be afraid to talk to them. The days at the career fair are just as long, if not longer for them. They are here to find candidates from our school, so make their trip, and your trip, worthwhile.

6. Be honest. This includes any experience you have had. Employers can sense when you’re being superficial. However, don’t be embarrassed by what experience you have. Everyone needs to start somewhere and even if you only have a little experience, you could still be a great candidate.

7. Know what makes you unique. You are unique and you have something great to offer an employer. Use this to your advantage. Employers want to know why you would be the best fit for the positions at their company. Don’t be afraid to brag about yourself, this is the perfect setting for it.

8. Know what you are looking for. This could be a full-time position for after graduation, a summer internship, a part-time position, or an internship that starts right away. You should also know what you want to get out of the opportunity and center questions around that (i.e. networking, professional experience, professional or personal growth).

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9. Keep track of who you talk to and what you talk about. Write this information down to follow up after. Make sure you have specific notes of what you talked about, i.e. the recruiter and I talked about how we both had pet goldfish when we were kids. It doesn’t have to be something career related, but you want the employer to remember who you are.

 After the Career Fair

10. Follow up. Make sure that you follow up with the employers you talk to. This could include an email, or a formal thank you letter. Just make sure that when you are following up, you reference something that you talked about when talking with the employer, this could help them remember you.

Follow up with all employers, even ones that you may not be interested in. Just because you don’t want to work for their company now, doesn’t mean that they couldn’t be a great resource or connection in the future.

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The Road to Productivity: Exploring How Warhawks Persevere and Prevail

“There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes, but with hard work there are no limits!” –Anonymous 

It’s that time of the year again when workloads outweigh energy levels! Winter is quickly approaching and finals are right around the corner for us Warhawks. During this time of year it’s easy to become stressed out, burnt out, or just down right depressed from the amount of work you have to complete.  So in an effort to alleviate some of that stress, here’s what a few fellow Warhawks from Career and Leadership Development had to say about how they stay productive during late semester chaos:

Lisa Helms: PRIDE Intern

“With school it is a little harder for me to stay focused but I usually pull things together at the last minute. However with work, I stay focused by making to do lists when I get into the office. I start by checking my email to see if there’s someone that I need to communicate with right away and I just take it one step at a time.”

Cherish Golden: PRIDE Intern

“ I usually go to the library and sit at a table in a quite area to stay focused on academics. I don’t get on the computers because then I’d be distracted.  At work, when I’m all out of tasks, I just find little stuff to do to stay busy. Even if it’s just fixing the chairs, I have to stay busy and remain on my feet in order to be productive. “

Radaya Ellis: Biology Major

“Well I have a productive playlist that I listen to when its grind time to get me back focused. Artist on my productive play list include artist such as Lil Boosie, to help motivate me, and Kirk Franklin, to uplift me. Listening to artist along those parameters helps keep me motivated both in work and at school. “

Katie Barbour: Involvement Office Graduate Assistant

 “A lot of times around the end of the semester I have a lot of big projects to do. So for me this semester I have two large group papers, as well as projects in two different classes. So at this point, it’s really a matter of working effectively with my group members and trying to be a leader within those two groups to make sure we get things done. Especially since finals are right before graduation and that’s when those things are due, and frankly I don’t want to be overwhelmed with group projects that late in the semester. So I think just being proactive and making sure you get things done ahead of time really helps relieve some of the stress”

Becky Wintringer: Warhawk Connection Center Intern

Becky Wintringer

“To-Do Lists are a big thing for me. I have post-its and color coded notes and stuff all over the place. I use my calendar to color code everything! Blue things are for class, green things are for work, and purple things are for organizations. I just try to stay managed by plotting out certain times of the day for individual things so that I’m not just doing all homework for three hours but individual tasks during individual times.

Anthony Richardson: Seal Entertainment Intern

Anthony Richardson

“In order to stay productive I pretty much just remind myself of why I’m here and I use that as motivation to assure that I persevere throughout the rest of the semester.”

We hope these tips can help you achieve your fullest potential and maximize your productivity during stressful times. Be sure to finish up this semester strong and don’t be afraid to join the dialog. What are some strategies that you live by to manage  stressful times and remain productive? Comment and share your ideas.

5 Career Lessons from Mean Girls

Today marks the tenth anniversary of the iconic movie, Mean Girls. In addition to having the most quotable script of all time, Mean Girls also offers a lot of career takeaways! This list is “so fetch” so you better keep reading.

1. Don’t get an ego

Cady’s ultimate downfall is that she starts thinking she is all that and a bag of Regina’s low cal chips. She gets caught up on getting to the top of the social pyramid, which ultimately causes her to flunk calculus, lose her BFFs, and get grounded.

Whether you’re on the job hunt, interviewing, or just starting out your career, don’t let your ego get to your head. Humility is key; no one likes a conceited employee who thinks they’re better than everyone else.

2. Nothing good comes from cliques

Cady’s school is full of cliques: the plastics, the JV jocks, desperate wannabes, burnouts, etc., and it’s the presence of these cliques that turns everyone against each other in the end.

When you’re at your job, avoid joining the office clique. It’s important to create an inclusive, not exclusive, work environment where everyone feels comfortable being themselves. If you work your way into an office clique, people may be afraid to approach you and you can miss out on some awesome opportunities.

3. Accept help

Cady, Janis, and Damian all work together to take down Regina George, and it works! *Spoiler alert* Regina ends up getting hit by a bus, loses her position as queen bee, and becomes an athlete instead. There’s no way Cady, Janis, or Damian could have stripped Regina from her power without one another.

Similarly, there’s no way you’ll get an interview, job, or promoted without people’s help. Whether it’s using your connections, or asking a friend to proofread your resume, put your pride aside and accept their help.

4. Brains are an asset

Cady is introduced as a super smart calculus wizard, but she dumbs herself down to get a guy *ew.* By playing dumb, Cady eventually loses her crush’s affection, and fails her calc test. It isn’t until she accepts her math abilities, and joins the mathletes that she realizes all of mistakes she’s made that year.

Realize and capitalize on your strengths. Never dumb yourself down to spare your supervisor’s or coworker’s feelings, instead take the opportunity to teach them what you know!

5. Take responsibility for your actions

At the end of the movie, Cady takes responsibility for writing the Burn Book (a book that has a bunch of mean things about all the girls in her class). Even though Cady only wrote one page of the lengthy book, she still took the blame for all of it.

We will all make mistakes at work, but it’s important that you make sure to take responsibility for them. Admitting you did something something wrong on your own (rather than your supervisor finding out) shows really good character and will help you in the long run.

kickSTARt Your Interview

 

Two short weeks ago I was in the heart of the Windy City for the Chicago Advertising Federation Career Day. It was an all day affair complete with breakfast, lunch, panel discussions, and networking opportunities. I learned a lot through my anxiety-ridden experience, and want to share my new-found knowledge with all of you!

The lunch portion of the event was particularly helpful because we (the very nervous interviewees) had our very own, real life HR Recruiter at our table. Luckily, she was very nice and let us ask as many questions as our hearts desired, and I asked “what advice do you have for how we should approach the company booths during the networking time?” Her answer was simple, informative, and easy to implement – simply be a S.T.A.R.

Whether it’s a quick talk at a booth, a phone interview, or an onsite interview, the S.T.A.R. method is the best way to answer any question a recruiter poses. In order to implement this answering method you have to use real life examples. For example, if the interviewer asks you about a moment you are most proud of this is how you would answer using the S.T.A.R. method:

Situation:

Anytime you give an answer you need to give the recruiter/hiring manager some context of what was happening. What you may think is obvious might not be to them, so make sure you include information about the basics of the situation.

Example: The moment I’m most proud of is when I won my internship competition last summer when I was a digital media planning intern at MediaCom. The competition consisted of five teams with four people on each, and lasted throughout the 10-week internship.

Task:

This is where you describe what you were asked to do, or what the challenge of the situation was.

Example: For the internship competition each team was asked to create a comprehensive media plan for BP Fuel Rewards Program, which culminated in a group presentation in front of agency leaders.

Action:

This is the most important component of the S.T.A.R. method. The action piece of the method is where you describe what you actually did in the scenario.

Example: My group did substantial secondary research to fully understand the situation at hand. We then worked together to create an insightful media plan based on our research. Our presentation was well rehearsed, and adequately reflected the work we put into it.

Result:

This is the conclusion of the S.T.A.R. method. Now you need to tell them the “so what.” What happened as a result of your actions? The result section is where you prove to the recruiter that you made the right “action.”

Example: As a result of our hard work and detail-oriented plan, my team won the intern competition. Our prize was the opportunity to present to MindShare’s North American CEO.

 

The S.T.A.R. method is a great way to handle any interview question; it keeps your answers clear, concise, and organized. It also helps you from rambling on and on.

Have you ever used the STAR method?

Ring Ring, Your Dream Job is Calling

Our generation is almost a stranger to the art of talking on the phone. If I hear my phone ring I automatically think there’s been some major catastrophe. While we’ve moved away from social communication via telephone calls, professional communication still heavily relies on good ol’ fashioned phone calls. Specifically, recruiters like to use phone interviews instead of making their candidates come in, so it’s important to master the art of phone talk. Here are 5 ways you can be a rockstar on the phone.

1. Smile

I know they can’t see you but recruiters can tell if you’re smiling by the sound of your voice. Make sure you sound pleasant, because you are being judged solely on the the audio you provide.

2. Create a cheat sheet

While phone interviews aren’t ideal because you can’t respond to the body language of the interviewer, they do offer a few perks. Because the recruiter can’t see you, they also can’t see your very handy cheat sheet! Have your resume in front of you as well as information about the company, skills you want to touch on, and questions you have that you might otherwise forget.

3. Take notes (listen)

One of the hardest parts of talking on the phone is staying focused! It’s so easy to let your mind wander and completely zone out. AVOID THIS AT ALL COSTS. Take notes while the recruiter is giving you specific details about the position, this way you stay focused and have specific details you can refer back to when you ask questions at the end of the interview.

4. Location, location, location

Make sure you get good reception wherever you decide to take your interview phone call. Cell phones don’t provide the connection security landlines once did. For this reason, you need to make sure you find a quiet place with good reception before your interview.

5. Thank You/Follow Up

Even though phone interviews may not seem like a big deal, they are! Make sure you take the appropriate follow-up steps and send a thank you note within 24 hours of your interview (an e-mail is sufficient for telephone interviews). Your thank you note should not only thank the recruiter for their time, but also highlight reasons why you would be a perfect addition to their team. This is also a good time to sneak in anything about yourself you didn’t get to talk about during the interview.

 

*ring**ring* Better pick up, you never know when you’re dream job will call you.

Friday Favorites – Different Types of Interviews

With graduation only two months away, many seniors are in the midst of their job hunt. One-on-one interviews are becoming less common, making way for unconventional types of interviews, such as phone interviews and group interviews. In this week’s Friday Favorites, I’m going to spotlight five types of interviews and tips on how to ace them.

Interview Pictures

One-on-One Interview

This is definitely the most common type of interview. These can also be the most nerve-wracking! At one point or another, you’ve probably experienced a one-on-one interview, where one person interviews you in their office or another private room. The tips below will help you calm your nerves before the interview and have confidence all the way through.

  • Be prepared. Do your research on the company beforehand so you won’t struggle to come up with answers having to do with the company.
  • Assemble a survival kit! For example, bring along a bottle of water, breath mints, hand sanitizer, lotion, and extra business cards. This tip came from the Top 5 Interview Tips Nobody Mentions.
  • Be confident. Even if you aren’t – pretend to be. Maintain eye contact with the interviewer, smile and be engaged in the conversation.
  • Body language says a lot about who you are. The way you stand, interact and how you talk can say volumes more than what you are actually saying.
  • Here is where you can talk all about your achievements, your proudest moments, or when you solved a problem at your previous job. Own it!
  • For more in-depth tips, check out a previous blog post, Top Interview Tips, and for advice on how to answer frequently asked questions, read Common Interview Questions & Answers.

Phone Interview

The good thing about phone interviews is that you can be more relaxed – not to mention, you can have notes sitting on your desk! What should you include on your ‘cheat sheet’? A short history of the company, bullet points highlighting your career-related achievements, and questions to ask the employer.

  • Prepare. Make sure you have a fully charged cell phone, a glass of water with you, a copy of your resume, your planner, and a notepad and pen handy so you can take notes if you wish.
  • Disable phone features, such as noise notifications if you get a text message or beeping noises if someone else calls you.
  • Plan to be at a quiet location when your interviewer calls. Your bedroom or study room is a good place to be. If you have pets, tie them outside or lock them in another room. You don’t want to be distracted playing with Fido while your interviewer asks you why you quit your previous job.
  • Give yourself time. Some people try to squeeze a phone interview in during their lunch break, but most interviews these days take about a half hour. Always plan for the unexpected.
  • While it’s a good idea to have notes to reference, be careful not to doodle or zone off.
  • It sounds silly, but don’t forget to smile! ‘Smiling will express confidence and positivity, even if the employer can’t see your face,’ according to USA Today College.

Skype Interview

With the advancement of technology, having an interview over Skype is more common than you think. While phone interviews might be the preferred way to interview, interviewing via video can present its own advantages.

When I was studying abroad in Ireland, I didn’t have access to a telephone, so the only way I could interview for this social media internship is over Skype. Luckily for me, I didn’t experience any internet connection hiccups. Skype interviews can be very tricky, but these tips should prepare you for one!

  • Perfect your video background setting. Check which angle gives you the best lighting (natural lighting is the best), make sure the background is clean, and test your microphone and volume.
  • Check your background. ‘Beer bottles, dirty laundry and your 12 cats shouldn’t be visible!’ via 5 Ways to Wow an Interviewer via Video.
  • Set up a back-up plan. If, for some reason, your internet shuts down or the connection is very fuzzy, plan with your interviewer a second time to interview or to do it over telephone.
  • Sit up tall, relax your shoulders, and make sure the camera angle is a flattering one. You have power over the video and how it can make you look. Make it work to your advantage!
  • Dress professionally. Even if the interviewer won’t be able to see below your collarbone, if you need to get up to grab an important document, your planner or to get a glass of water, you don’t want your interviewer to see you wearing sweatpants with your blazer.
  • As hard as this is, make sure you look into the camera, not the computer screen. This is one of the most noticable errors interviewers make.

Group Interviews

Group interviews are used when there are a number of positions to fill, or when the position includes having to work with other coworkers most of the time. There might be a potential situation that you and your group will have to figure out, working on a team-building exercise and possibly a personal assessment to finish with. Some employers choose to interview candidates in groups to assess how you work in a team, your leadership skills and interpersonal skills.

  • Remember – you will be watched from the moment you enter to the moment you leave. This type of interview will test your behaivor and personality, so be on your best behaivor!
  • Dress to impress. People may think that group interviews are more relaxed than one-on-one interviews, but they’re not. Dress for this interview as you would for a one-on-one interview.
  • Be prepared for role-playing activities. These type of activities will test your ethics.
  • Good communication, listening, and team playing is key in this type of interview. Here is a review: what is communication? The process of transferring signals or messages between a sender and receiver through various methods. These include written words, nonverbal clues and spoken words, according to How To Develop Good Communication Skills.
  • Don’t take over the group discussion, but don’t sit in the corner staring at the floor. Balance is key. Contribute to the discussion and encourage the shy group members to speak up as well.
  • You need to stand out among many other candidates. Put on your game face, be a team player, and you’ll be sure to ace that group interview!

Lunch or Dinner Interviews

The last type of common interview I’ll go over is the interview over lunch or dinner. These might occur when your interviewer wants to ‘evaluate your social skills and see if you can handle yourself gracefully under pressure,’ according to Alison Doyle for About.com. Interviewing over a meal can be stressful as it is, but hopefully these tips will help you succeed!

  • Prepare for these kinds of interviews by attending etiquette dinners hosted by your university. They will teach you all about table manners and social skills.
  • Check out the restaurant ahead of time to find out what kind of food they serve and where the bathrooms are located. This will hopefully prevent anxiety the day of the interview!
  • If your interviewer has been to the restaurant before, ask them what their favorite dish is. They’ll be flattered that you want non-career-related advice from them.
  • How you treat a waiter says a lot about you. Be polite to everyone you come in contact with.
  • Follow the lead of your host or interviewer. Don’t start eating before them and always engage them in conversation.
  • Your interviewer will be expected to pay for the tab and tip. To thank them, follow up with a personalized thank you note.

Career & Leadership Development holds mock interviews for most of these interviews listed above. If you’re nervous about an upcoming interview, the career advisors would be more than happy to conduct a mock interview with you. Hopefully the advice above will help you in your next interview!

Photos by francoisepSos.de, Tamaki Sono and Dominic Alves.

Friday Favorites – Top Interview Tips

Now that October has wrapped up, we’ll be rounding up our Interview Tip of the Week tweets.

If you aren’t following us on Twitter, you should be! We post a few jobs a day from Hawk Jobs, as well as interesting career-related articles and career-related events going on at UW-Whitewater.

Here are some short and sweet interview tips in 140 characters or less!

Wendy bonds with Alicia

Before the Interview

  • Prepare! Being well put together and organized will make you stand out.
  • If you’re bad with directions, drive to a company before your interview to make sure you can find it.
  • Make sure you have a polished resume. Career & Leadership Development has resources to help you.
  • Shopping for interview outfits? H&M, Macy’s, New York & Company, Nordstrom and TJMaxx all have great outfit options!
  • Use perfume or cologne sparingly, or not at all. Remember, your interviewer may have allergies or sensitivities.
  • Your attire should be appropriate but shouldn’t take center stage. Don’t confuse ‘business function’ with ‘party’.
  • When picking out an outfit, stick with the classics. A navy, gray or black suit is always stylish and appropriate.
  • For women – No jewelry is better than cheap, flashy jewelry. Wear pantyhose and keep makeup and hair simple.

During the Interview

  • Relax, be yourself, and don’t be afraid to show enthusiasm for the job!
  • Your personal brand can make or break a job interview. Choose your words wisely, know yourself and know what you want.
  • Protecting your online reputation is important, especially when interviewers take a peek. Be smart about social media.
  • Have a positive attitude and engage in the interview!
  • Have you studied abroad or been on a travel study? Make sure to mention that during your interview.
  • Never be late to a job interview! That reflects poorly on your personality and can aggravate your interviewer.
  • Remember, interviews are two-sided conversations, designed to let both sides figure out if they’d be a good fit.
  • Be confident when answering questions! Provide articulate answers, avoid nervous habits and make eye contact.
  • When your interviewer asks if you have any last questions, make sure you have a few questions you plan on asking.

After the Interview

  • After the interview, ask the interviewer what the next step will be. They might have a second round of interviews.
  • Once the interview is over, ask for their business card. It will have all the information you need to follow up.
  • Be polite. Say thank you to the interviewer, staff and receptionist. A nice ‘thank you’ can go a long way.
  • Send a thank you e-mail or handwritten letter no more than 24 hours after the interview. And proofread!
  • If you don’t end up getting hired, accept the rejection with grace and keep your head up! If you do get the job, congrats!

Hopefully these simple tips will help you on your next interview!

Photo by Gangplank HQ.

Friday Favorites – Common Interview Questions & Answers

For this week in Friday Favorites, we’ve rounded up five common interview questions. I’ve taken these five questions from this infographic. Chances are, you will be asked most, if not all, of these questions in an interview. Prepare yourself by picking out the perfect interview outfit and selling your personal brand, and then by reading these smart answers!

Tell me about yourself.

This is usually the first question interviewers will ask, and your answer will set the tone for the rest of the interview. Everyone’s favorite topic to talk about is themselves, so it sounds pretty easy to talk about yourself for a few minutes, right? It is easy…except you need to talk about the right things.

Thanks to Monster.com, they’ve provided a few helpful tips that I’ve narrowed down in this answer. Focus on a couple of your strengths that could help you get the job, then write them in a script that can be memorized easily. Practice, practice, practice. The better you know yourself, and the better you know the right answer to this question, the easier it will be to sell yourself.

Why did you leave your last job?

‘Interviewers generally ask why you left your former company so they can “understand your motives and gain insight as to how [you] handle work relationships,” says Duncan Mathison, author of Unlock The Hidden Job Market: 6 Steps to a Successful Search When Times Are Tough.‘ (From Monster.com) Interviewers ask you this question to see what kind of person you are, what integrity you hold, and how reliable and responsible you are.

Do be polite and state exactly why you left your previous job, but also bring it back and let the interviewer know that you are looking for a better fit and a challenge.

What do you know about our company?

Make sure you do a bit of background research on the company you’re interviewing with. Research about their history, their competitors, and the CEOs and other big wigs. The more you know about the company, its priorities and its needs, the more knowledgeable and confident you’ll come across.

Why do you want to work for us?

Okay, so we know you want a job. But why do you want a job with that specific company that you’re interviewing with? Is it the position you’re applying for, the great benefits, or that you strongly agree with their mission? Are you looking to gain experience or explore other opportunities? Decide what makes it a good fit for you and find out what’s motivating you to apply for that position. And don’t be afraid to show enthusiasm during your answer!

Tell me about your experience at ________________.

One reason why interviewers ask this question is to see how your previous jobs may prepare you for this job. If you’ve had the same job since you were 16, mention that. It will show that you have integrity. If you’ve volunteered at various schools, with organizations or for benefits, mention that. It will show that you have compassion. If you’ve had an internship, mention that. It will show that you are driven. Explaining your experiences, whether or not they are in your field of study, can hold a lot of power in an interview. Explain what you learned and how that will benefit you if you get the job you’re applying for.

Hopefully these answers to some of the most common interview questions will help you out in your next interview! What are some questions you’ve been asked, and how did you respond? I’d love to hear your stories. E-mail me at MediaCLD@uww.edu.

Photo by Victor1558.

Unpacking Your Study Abroad Experience

Students who study abroad frequently describe their experience as life-changing. The opportunity to live in and learn from another culture, as well as see and experience another part of the world, provides the participant with a great reason to reflect upon their life, their culture, and their identity.

The experience demands an investment of physical and psychological energy which will test and enhance the participant’s communication skills, ability to solve problems, adapt to change and be flexible. And, not least of all, there’s a good deal of confidence to be gained by successfully negotiating the challenges inherent in living in another country.

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These mindsets and skills are highly transferable and will help students both obtain and succeed in their careers. What follows are a few tips that may help employers understand the value of your study abroad experience as you conduct your job search.

  • First, don’t assume that your interviewer understands the value of your study abroad experience. Chances are most recruiters and hiring managers haven’t studied abroad and may not fully understand the numerous, varied ways that the experience has contributed to your learning and career development. They may view the experience as interesting and fun, but miss the learning implications inherent in the experience. The student will need to “connect the dots” on their resume and in their interviews.
  • Second, many students who participate in study abroad present the experience on paper and in person as “academic tourism.” When asked about their experience during interviews, a common mistake is to talk about how much fun the experience was, or how incredible it was to experience Amsterdam or the Great Wall of China. While true, understand that the interviewer wants to know how your experiences have contributed to the development of skills and competencies they desire. Therefore, it’s better to talk about what you learned as a result of your experience and specifically align what you learned with the skills and competencies that the employer seeks in the ideal applicant for the position for which you’re interviewing. Basically, they want to know how your experience abroad will add value to their organization if you are hired.
  • Lastly, spend some time to reflect upon what it is that you’ve learned as a result of your study abroad experience. What did you learn about the culture of your host country? Did the experience expand your knowledge of your own identity and culture? What skills did you use to adjust and adapt to your host culture? Have your attitudes about your home culture and country changed as a result of the experience? These are just a few of the questions to ask yourself during and after your study abroad experience.

Photo by Ralf Schulze