In honor of Halloween, I thought that it would be nice to do a little “trick or treating”. Instead of candy, I decided to reach out to a few of the employers who actively recruit at UW-Whitewater and solicit their single best piece of advice to pass along to students as they prepare and proceed through the job search and interview process. Let’s check our trick-or-treat bag to see what we came up with.
As you begin the process of researching and exploring different employers and job opportunities, Adrianna Choquette, Agency Recruiting Coordinator with State Farm, says to remember to “always keep yourself open to possibilities. Ask employers about their company and then sell your value, whether it be in a story or a past experience, make yourself stand out. It’s the students who sell their value and make a connection with employers that stand out – and if you stand out, you’re well on your way to finding success.”
Once you have moved into an interview opportunity with an employer, Meredith Karklus, Staffing Specialist with American Family Insurance, says to “research the company you are interviewing with. You don’t need to know everything about them, but be prepared to answer this question – why are you interested in working for our company.” Know your value and know what you can offer to the employer.
A final piece of advice for your interview comes from Mark Henderson, Central/Northern Plains Area HR Manager with Sherwin Williams. His recommends that students “bring a personality and zest to the interview…the initial 10 seconds are crucial in making a strong statement. You never get a second shot to make that first impression.”
The bottom line from all of our employers is that the most important thing you can do is to get started looking for jobs now! If you have not started your job search process yet, be sure to take some time this week to review the current job opportunities posted in Hawk Jobs. Putting in the effort to research employers, developing your personal branding statement, and preparing for interviews can help lead to the ultimate “treat”…landing an internship or job opportunity,
The staff in Career & Leadership Development have the pleasure of working with a good number of students as they prepare for their employment interviews. For me, these conversations are my favorite, since there’s a lot to think about as we prepare for the interview – How do I research the employer and the job? What questions will I be asked? How do I handle it if I don’t know how to answer one of the questions? What questions should I ask? What’s the best way to handle the dreaded “weakness” question? What should I wear? And the list goes on, and on…
Personally, back in the day, my biggest fear was being too nervous to be able to appear confident and answer the questions completely. In fact, during my first interview I actually “wove” my fingers of my right hand around a pen – I was nervous and tense, so I had a death-grip on that Bic. No worries, my hands were under the table. But, when the interviewer stood up to shake my hand when our conversation ended, I couldn’t quickly get the pen out of my grip. So I shook my hand, hard, and the pen hit the interviewer in the head. At that moment I understood what my Mom meant when she said “You could poke somebody’s eye out with that thing.” As you can imagine, of all the worries I had prior to that interview, never once did I think about hitting the interviewer in the head with my pen. Check that one off the bucket list.
As it is helpful do, I reflected upon what I learned from the interview experience, and how I could do better during my next interview. As I jotted down my thoughts, the first on the list was “leave the pen alone.” After stating the obvious, I realized that the underlying issue was being able to better handle my nerves. I’d like to share with you how I was able to do this, with some practice, of course.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare. If you “wing” the interview, you should be nervous. You wouldn’t jump in the pool for the first time and expect to take first place in the 100 freestyle, would you? Probably the best thing I did to calm my nerves was to research the employer, the job, myself, and practice my answers, by myself and in front of others. Funny thing – I found out that the more I prepared the more comfortable I became.
- Some of us are pretty hard on ourselves. We’re our own worst enemy, as the saying goes. This was, and is at times, the case for me. However, I realized that the interviewer simply wants to get to know me at a deeper level than they could learn from reading my resume. And who is the foremost expert in the world on me? Me. It’s not like I have to go in front of a panel of experts and talk about quantum physics, I just need to talk about me, and I know me better than anybody. Self-talk like this helped me learn to not worry so much.
- There are healthy things to do to relax just prior the interview. Meditation and taking the time to take a few deep breaths before the interview are a couple of things I did. It’s good to arrive to the interview site 5-10 minutes early to have the time to chill for a bit. To relax.
- Lastly, when feeling overly nervous at the start of an interview, I would admit to the interviewer that I felt nervous. Most recruiters are really nice people who are very understanding, and they received my pronouncement with empathy. A few didn’t, but it helped me anyway to say so.
These tactics helped me improve my interview skills, and I’d like to think they’ll help you too. Here’s wishing you well on all of your interviews. If you happen to come across an interviewer who wears safety goggles during the interview, that would be the person I hit in the head with my pen. He’d be in his mid-60’s.
Photo By: astabraksabah
If you’re graduating in a couple of weeks or looking for an internship, I hope you’re preparing for your interviews. In case you’re not quite sure how to prepare, here are some basic ideas to help you get started.
One reason for an interview is for the person to determine if you’ll be a good match for the organization (and if the organization is a good fit for you). Think about why you are the best person for the job. What are your strengths, weaknesses, goals, and so forth? What do you bring to the job that others do not have? Make a list of your accomplishments and consider how they are relevant to the employer. Quintessential Careers has a worksheet that can help keep track of accomplishments in various areas of your life.
Make sure you research the company/organization for which you will be interviewing. Also, research the department and position for which you are applying.
The company/organization website is a good place to start. Keep in mind that this is just a start. Here are some additional suggestions:
- Vault – Go to Hawk Jobs. Once you’re signed in, look under “Career Resources” and click on “Vault.”
- The Forbes 500
- Job Search Intelligence (includes salary information)
- Standard & Poor’s
- Andersen Library
- EquiRaise – a free calculator that determines average compensation increases (including wages and salaries and benefits) and cost-of-living adjustments based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
There are many other sites to discover and don’t forget to talk to others that currently work in the organization/company you’re considering. Also consider finding out about the companies competitors.
This is commonly referred to as a “Mock Interview.” You are welcome to call our office at 262-472-1741 and schedule an interview with one of our counselors. You could also go online and look for “Interview Questions.” The point is to practice. I recommend working with as many different people as possible to give you a better preparation.
If you have further questions about interview preparation, check out our website or contact our office.