We’re all here at Lock Haven University to learn how to perform at our dream careers. But, before we can put our knowledge to good use, we first have to actually land our preferred jobs after graduating. So here are a few tips for impressing your potential future employers. For more specifics, check out the interview preparation workshop being held 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 26 in Ulmer 207.
A. Get the interview:
You can’t impress your potential future employers if you can’t even get an interview.
1. First of all, make sure your resume is tight. Keep it clean. Keep it brief. And keep it error-free. At the first sight of a spelling or grammatical error, whoever is reviewing your work will immediately toss it. Put in only your most relevant and most recent work history and talk up any skills you have related to the position you’re applying for. Also, spend a little extra money on the good resume paper.
2. Next, apply for a ton of jobs. Seriously. A ton. Keep an open mind while job hunting. Apply for things that you’re overqualified for – you could have the opportunity to quickly climb the ladder. Apply for jobs you’re under-qualified for and put in the extra effort to learn some new skills.
B. Prepare for the interview:
Sure, you can wing a couple college exams, and maybe even a formality interview with your local McDonald’s. But now you’re swingin’ in the big leagues, so you’ve got to train up.
1. Do your research. Learn the ins and outs of the company you’re about to interview with. Who are the founders? What is their mission statement? What are their products and goals? Where are their locations? Etc. The interviewers will know if you’re legitimately interested in the company and, if you’re not interested, neither are they.
2. Prepare some interview questions of your own. Again, your interviewer wants to know if you’re truly interested in the company and the job, and it’s also important for you to get a feel for whether this potential job is a good fit for you. Ask questions like, “What are some of the biggest problems your staff is facing right now? Would I be in a position to help you?” Forbes magazine states these questions will help the interviewer envision you in the position, and it shows that you’re already thinking about what you will do when you have the job. Also, asking questions like, “What have you enjoyed most about working here?” could help you connect on a more personal level with the interviewer.
3. Think money. Research the position you’re about to interview for and see what the average salary is for that position. Decide on a fair starting salary that will appeal to your potential employer without undermining your skills.
4. Practice, practice, practice. Many interview questions are universal and there are hundreds upon hundreds of websites that will give you advice on how to answer those questions perfectly.
C. Nail the interview:
The time has come, so get your game face on.
1. Dress the part. You need to dress the part, and it’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Men, if you haven’t already, invest in a couple of tailored suits. Ladies, at the risk of sounding old-fashioned, make sure your skirts and dresses end below your knees, your heels aren’t too high (think kitten heels), and your cleavage is covered.
2. Show up a little early. Give yourself time to park, find your way around, and collect yourself before you jump into the interview.
3. Know how to shake someone’s hand. Seriously. Nothing turns an employer off more than someone who halfheartedly grabs at his or her wrist and holds on for too long. Hold your arm out so your elbow is just past your stomach – not out straight. Grasp the interviewer’s hand fully and firmly, but not too tightly. Two to three quick pumps is sufficient. During in this process, make eye contact and smile while introducing yourself.
4. During the interview, keep your answers specific, but brief. And make sure to stay on topic. Keep eye contact with your interviewer and pay attention to your posture and body language. Sit in a neutral position with your arms relaxed. This allows you to be expressive and dynamic with your hands and face. Also, leaning forward slightly shows you’re interested in what the interviewer has to say.
5. Do NOT talk money, even if the interviewer brings it up. If/when the interviewer asks you something along the lines of what you think is a fair starting salary, counter with an appeasing answer such as, “I’m sure we can come to a compromise on that when it comes time.” However, if the employer continues to push the issue, feel free to say that you’ve done your research and give your expected starting salary.
6. Don’t forget to express your gratitude. When all is said and done, whether you get the position or not, the interviewer took time out of his or her busy schedule to get to know you. Make sure to thank him or her for his or her time.