How to Interview like a Pro: Tips from a Local Recruiter
For most people, an interview creates a lot of stress and anxiety—it is an intimidating way to make a great first impression. For most employers though, the goal of inviting an applicant in for an interview is to get to know them. It’s a meeting based around discovery. We want to know who you are and if you could successfully fit in with the culture of our organization, the position, and the department. We also want you to ask questions that can help you make a decision about whether our company is the right place for you.
Quick tips for standing out & having a successful interview:
Dress for the job you’re applying for. It’s okay to ask what the dress code is when you’re scheduling the interview.
Make eye contact, smile, and shake the interviewer’s hand.
Bring a few copies of your resume with you to the interview.
If you have a samples of something that relates to the position you’re applying for, have it on hand (i.e. for a graphic design position, bring some of your design work).
Don’t over-think things. Trying to perfect every sentence comes off as robotic.
Be natural and be yourself; it is okay to smile and laugh! We can sense when an applicant is putting on a façade.
Work experience and qualifications are important, but they’re not everything. We’re trying to find someone who “fits” in with the department and the company as a whole. Try to find something in common with the interviewer and make an emotional connection.
As the interview wraps up, ask what the next steps are. In most instances, recruiters are happy to let you know where they are in the hiring process and when you should expect to hear back.
~Myra Fundis, UVM ‘11
Human Resources Wellness Specialist with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Vermont
Whether you are going through the interview process for a first time or fiftieth time, the interview is an intimidating process. As a student and active job seeker, I have found interviews to be the most troublesome. Not knowing what lies on the other side of the door or phone call is the scariest part for me. Also, I am not entirely sure about how to “sell myself” or answer some simple questions. Luckily, the Career Center at UVM helps with these questions, how to dress and even how to behave. I have a few short tips that help me with my job process.
Personally, I always have a problem with “selling myself” because I believe it is not my place to judge my performance. Since I am a Mechanical Engineering major, I have chosen to bring CAD drawings, MATLAB scripts, and various class projects along with extra copies of my resume to show and verify skills from job descriptions. Clearly everyone will not be able to bring these specific items to an employer, but consider similar project work to demonstrate your industry’s skills.
Another valuable technique involves practicing responses to possible questions in order to see what types of responses interviewers are expecting. Big Interview is a resource that allows you to follow video tutorials and read articles to prepare for your interview, as well as allowing you to practice interviewing by recording your responses to general and industry-specific questions. These recordings can be saved for personal and/or professional feedback. A sample recording I prepared can be seen below:
One more option, the Career Center website, provides information on general interview preparation. Additionally, you can schedule mock interviews or review Big Interview recordings in an appointment with a career counselor.
Why? A prompt and sincere note of thanks helps you stand out among the hundreds of other people the employer met at the fair. It demonstrates that you’re sincerely interested and motivated about their company, it demonstrates your writing skills and it can make you more memorable than any other candidate.
Here are 5 tips to making your thank you note successful:
1. Make it professional.
This isn’t a text message or a Facebook post with your friends, so don’t use slang or abbreviations. Address the email formally with “Dear Ms. Hoppenjans” instead of “Hi Jill!” Sign it with “Sincerely” instead of “TTYL.” Remember that this could be your future employer.
2. Make it grammatically perfect.
Re-read your note several times to make sure it is as perfect as a resume or cover letter. You want the employer to remember you and what you’ve said, not that you misspelled the company’s name!
3. Make it personal.
You don’t have to send a note to every person you met. Send notes to employers you are really interested in and/or want to stay connected to. Don’t send a mass email to many employers at once. Write an individualized email and try to incorporate the conversation you had with the employer, particularly if there is something about the conversation that might be memorable for the employer.
4. Make it meaningful.
At a minimum, you are thanking them for attending the fair and for speaking with you. If the employer gave you some next steps (i.e.: apply online, look at their website, talk with another colleague), give them an update on your progress. If you don’t have more to say, don’t add fluff or filler.
5. Make it easy for the employer.
Attach a copy of your resume so that the employer can be quickly reminded of who you are.
Most people know that a Job Fair is for people seeking jobs, internships, and volunteer opportunities. Did you know it is also for those who want to get ideas, explore options and gather information? You don’t have to be actively searching for specific job to attend.
A key part of the career journey is having conversations, exploring what is out there and practicing presenting yourself and your interests. You can do all of that at the Job Fair. You can also learn about companies, industries, jobs, and opportunities.
No matter what your reason for attending, you should come prepared. Dress professionally. Bring a resume and an impressive handshake. Why? Because 100 employers are coming to meet you!
Put the date in your calendar: Job Fair
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
2:00pm – 5:00pm
Davis Center 4th Floor
Still feeling nervous about attending?
Review the Career Center FAQs and Preparation and Tips. If you want more support, talk to a Career Center staff member. Quick (10 minute) consults, resume reviews, and questions can be explored during Drop-ins at the Career + Experience Hub, M-Th: 1-4pm and Fr: 1-3pm.
Do more than just wonder about your future. Explore options. Talk to employers.
Jen Guimaraes Associate Director
Community Sailing Center
When a student lands an interview, what should they do to prepare?
Students should make sure to do their “homework” on the organization that they are interviewing with. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the entire organization by researching their website and any other information that you can gather about them. Create a list of questions you have about the organization and the position you are applying for. Employers always ask for your questions at the end of the interview process and having a list shows that you did background research and are very interested in the position. Make sure to dress appropriately, show up on time, and be professional in your communication (word choice and email style) with the prospective employer.
You must interview a lot of applicants for the Community Sailing Center, what makes a candidate stand out?
A candidate stands out if they are energetic, upbeat, and already familiar with the organization. Make eye contact with the employer(s) you are interviewing with and give complete answers to their questions, not just one-word responses. You can almost certainly anticipate what questions an employer might ask you based on the position you are applying for, rehearsing your answers ahead of time is always a good idea. Don’t forget to smile!
What questions should candidates be asking you?
I’ve had candidates ask a number of questions: Do I enjoy my job? What is a typical day like for this position? What is the chain of command with direct and indirect supervisors? Are there any additional duties that I will have not included in the job description?