Tag Archives: interview

More Than Money

When you’re getting ready to accept a job offer, keep this in mind: it’s ok to negotiate. Seriously. Even when it’s your first job after graduation. Employers expect you to negotiate. In an article for Inc., James Altucher shares 11 mistakes people make when negotiating their salary. Keep these in mind as you prepare to accept employment offers! Below are a couple of key points:

  1. Have a big list.  Don’t limit yourself to just your annual salary. Is there an opportunity to work from home twice a week? Could you get a bonus? Will they compensate moving expenses? Think of all of the things that would make a job valuable, and not just the bottom line on your paycheck.
  2. Do your homework.  Use online resources to calculate the average salary for that position in your geographic area. Consider how much someone would charge for your position if they were a freelancer or consultant. What value do you provide the company? You can also use a site like Glassdoor to see what salaries are typical for your position or for the company.
  3. Give yourself time to consider.  When you are offered a position, you do not have to accept it right then and there. Ask for 24 hours to step back and consider everything. Sleep on it. Are there other opportunities you are in the process for? What are the pros and cons?

Altucher makes many other great points, and offers great tips that will help you not only for job one, but every job after that.  You can read all 11 mistakes here: http://www.inc.com/quora/11-mistakes-people-always-make-when-they-negotiate-their-salaries.html

What Questions Do You Have For Me?

When preparing for an interview, it’s pretty common for job seekers to prepare for the questions that the employer may ask. However, it’s equally important for a job seeker to have questions prepared to ask of the employer.  Of course, there are the standby questions, such as “what is the rest of the hiring process like?” or “what is a typical day here like?”  The time when you ask questions is an essential part of the interview process. It’s an opportunity for you to get to know the company more, and continue making a good impression of the interviewer.  The Forbes Coaches Council developed a list of 11 questions a job seeker should consider asking in order to stand out from the other people being interviewed. Here are a few to start:

  1. What could I accomplish in six months that would really exceed your expectations? Many job seekers ask something along the lines of “what are your expectations of me?” Of course your employer will have expectations for you. This will give you a clearer idea of ways you can take initiative and go above-and-beyond to make a good impression.
  2. What gets you excited to come to work every day?  It’s important to know the culture of your new company, as well as what motivates your new supervisor.  The response to this question can help you determine if you will mesh well with both!
  3. How does your workplace help employees reach their peak potential? Again, it will be a great insight of the company culture to know if they work to help their employees succeed, or adapt with changing needs and times.
  4. What other information can I share with you? This gives the interviewer another door to ask you more questions, and gives you the opportunity to respond to any concerns or doubts they may have.

The Forbes Coaches Council has other great questions you can ask! Check them out here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2016/11/10/11-unusual-question-to-ask-in-an-interview-to-distinguish-yourself-from-the-competition/#68ec588f25f3

Introvert Networking 101

When faced with a networking opportunity, many introverts tend to be filled with fear. Introverts know that people can be a drain on their energy, and they may be overshadowed by their extroverted peers.  Interviews also seem terrifying, because introverts know they have to be in Super Duper People Mode. The Muse recently posted an article to help introverts conquer networking events and interviews by preparing effectively.  Here’s a quick overview of their five steps:

  1. Plan out your time – Give yourself some buffer time before and after the interview or event.  This will build up your energy beforehand, and help you regroup and process information afterwards.
  2. Embrace the chitchat – Understand that small talk is part of the process. Remember that this is a way to establish a relationship, and prepare “get to know you” questions in advance, such as “did you see the Cubs win the World Series last night?”
  3. Really shine at the beginning and the end – Remember to have an awesome introduction to make a great first impression.  Having a confident, friendly closing will leave a good impression, too.
  4. Mirror the interviewer – Make sure you don’t revert to your introverted ways during the conversation.  Make it a point to match what the interviewer is doing, either in body language or tone of voice. If the employer is being unprofessional, such as slouching or using negative body language, don’t feel concerned! Instead, take a deep breath and make a point to use good eye contact and more open body language.
  5. Make your introversion a positive – If the point is to develop a rapport, it may be beneficial to keep in mind that the interviewer could be an introvert, too.  Find ways to highlight your qualities as an introvert.

The Muse has all kinds of good suggestions and points in their article, which you can read here: https://www.themuse.com/advice/5-survival-tricks-every-introvert-needs-to-know-before-going-on-an-interview .  Other helpful tips for introverts that the ELCDC recommends are doing your research so you feel more prepared, and set achievable goals, like “meet with three employers, and then take a five minute break to get water.”  What other suggestions do you have?

All About the Money

One component of the job search that frustrates many job seekers is determining salary expectations. It’s a fairly common occurrence for employers to request salary requirements as part of the application. Job seekers, however, feel uncomfortable with this because they don’t want to come across as demanding or expecting too much.  That’s why it is essential to do your research in advance and know what you- and the job- are worth!

In the article “How the Pros Research What Your Salary Should Be” on Jobipedia, hiring experts share insight on what they look for when it comes to the financials of hiring someone. They give excellent tips on how to determine what your salary expectations should be. The first point of advice is to “Become familiar with all that is expected for you at this job.” That includes knowing if you will be required to travel, or work outside of typical business hours. You can ask about these things during an interview.  On the other hand, it’s also important to know your skills and experiences, and how they can uniquely contribute to your role within this position.  A second piece of advice is to “Do your research.” There are many websites available that can calculate a reasonable salary based on your education, location, and years of experience.  Last but not least, “Don’t look for a magic number, make a range.”  Give a window of where you absolutely need to be (low end) to what you truly feel you are worth (high end) and understand that the numbers in between are an area of negotiation. Additionally, don’t forget that other benefits will be calculated in, such as insurance or commuter allowance. Giving a range shows potential employers that you are willing to be flexible, but still know what you deserve.

To read all of the recommendations from the hiring experts, please check out the full article at http://jobipedia.org/Blog/Post?id=how-the-pros-research-what-your-salary-should-be-11320

Scoring an Interview, but Not Scoring a Job

Pam Folger, the Career Center Director for Millikin University wrote a really interesting article for AAEE and, in turn, Education Week.  I find it interesting because although it’s designed to be helpful for Education majors, it can very easily be applied to students searching for a job in any major! Moreover, it’s a topic that a student in any major can relate to…. struggling with getting an interview, but then not getting the job.

Folger recommends taking a few things into account when evaluating your recent interviews. I’ll share a few of them, but you’ll be able to see the entire list in the article; the link is provided below.

  1. Did you research the organization? The more you know, the better prepared you are and the more confident you will feel.
  2. Did you dress appropriately? You have one chance to make a good first impression, and you have to look the part!
  3. Were you able to articulate why the position is a good fit for your skills and qualifications, and also how you would be able to contribute to the team at the organization? This shows a mutual benefit, which leads to longer retention and overall job satisfaction.
  4. Did you answer all of the questions thoroughly, including the behavioral-based questions? Being able to provide a solid example behind your qualifications shows that you walk what you talk.
  5. Did you send a thank you note, or at the very least, a thank you email? Not only is it polite, but it’s a chance to re-emphasize why you’re the perfect candidate.

Additionally, Folger recommends mock interviews as a way to get practice and receive feedback. Video mock interviews are also a way for you to see your body language and view any nervous habits you may have, which can be a turn-off to employers.

To get all of Folgers advice, check out her link here: http://blogs.edweek.org/topschooljobs/careers/2016/03/interviews_but_no_offers.html?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=careercorner

What Is Your Proudest Accomplishment?

Interviews can be tough.  It’s hard to walk that fine line of “this is why I’m an exceptional employee and you should hire me” and totally bragging. A question that employers like to ask is “What accomplishment are you most proud of?” This is a great question- it allows the employer to see what excites you and get to know you outside of your skills.  However, it can be a stumbling block for the candidate being interviewed, because that fear of bragging always seems to creep in.  In an article posted on Careerealism, Peggy McKee shares wonderful insight on how to appropriately answer this question.

McKee urges interviewees to use recent examples from their work experience- which, for a college student, could be changed to college experience that is relevant to the position. Although you may be proud that you got accepted to college, or got an A in a particularly difficult class, they don’t necessarily highlight the skills or values the employer is looking for.  However, if it’s a company that emphasizes team work, you could share an example of  how you motivated your team before a big game, used practices to focus on drills, and called plays to highlight everyone’s strength, and the team won the game. This shows your ability to work on a team for success. Or, if it’s a company that’s very customer service-driven, you could share an example from your off-campus job as a server, where you have to make sure you take orders correctly, anticipate needs for things like drink refills, and deliver food quickly so it stays warm- all while providing service with a smile, even when the restaurant is packed! To help you determine what skills a company may focus on, look at the job description and their company website to see what their values are.

McKee also recommends that, while framing your answer, you use the STAR method. This will help you stay focused. With the STAR method, you highlight the Situation or Task, Action, and Result. So, with our teamwork example, your Situation would be a big game, the Action would be using the practices to work on drills, motivating your teammates, and effectively calling plays. Your Result would be that you won! With the server position, your Task is to always provide excellent customer service.  Your Action is to take correct orders, smile, anticipate needs, and be timely.  Your Result is when customers leave happy and return- and maybe even ask to sit in your section!

For more examples and tips from McKee, check out her article here: http://www.careerealism.com/interview-question-proudest-accomplishment/

Making a Decision in Three Seconds

In the coming weeks, our office will be involved in multiple job and internship fairs. These are excellent opportunities for students to connect with many employers in a short amount of time, but as we have discussed in previous posts, they can seem overwhelming to attend. One particular source of anxiety for attendees is not knowing what employers are looking for. As someone asked in a Jobipedia question: How do recruiters determine which students are worth pursuing from a 3-minute conversation at a career fair? It’s true- what can a recruiter possibly see in a 3-minute chat about whether a candidate will be a good fit, or fill a need, in their company? Thankfully, a few employers responded, giving insight into what they look for at recruiting events such as job fairs.

A representative from The Hershey Company had a few suggestions. First, to be prepared and don’t hesitate to initiate the conversation. Second, to have an elevator speech that is concise, but gives insight into who you are. Third, make sure what you are looking for in a job is actually available at the company at that given time. The representative recommended researching the careers section of the company website before the fair, but we also recommend using LinkedIn, or reading the website of the organization hosting the fair, as they will sometimes give details about what positions companies are looking to fill while in attendance. A Hiring Expert from Pitney Bowes indicated that, at fairs, they are looking for candidates with not only the technical skills to do the job successfully but also cultural fit- does the candidate present a personality that would mesh well with current employees. Finally, a representative from AT&T encouraged candidates to focus on their first impression- not only echoing the importance of the elevator speech, but also to be cognizant of clothing choice. Another key take-away from their feedback was to be confident!

To read the full answers to this question and many others, click here: http://www.jobipedia.org/Questions/Conversation/How-do-recruiters-determine-which-students-are-worth-pursuing-from-a-3-minute-conversation-at-a-career-fair

Just Trying to Fit In

One of the biggest stressors when going through a job search is determining if you will be a good fit within a company- will you get along well with your coworkers and supervisor, will the environment be one where you can succeed, and is your personality one that will help you get the job done.  Although many interview preparation tips suggest asking questions when given the opportunity during the interview, it can be very hard to frame a question that will help you gauge whether you and the company will mesh well.  Adrian Granzella Larssen of The Muse wrote an insightful article to help job seekers determine what to ask.  In the article, Larssen suggests doing some research not only on the company but also on yourself- what is your personality and what skills do you want to really highlight during your work experience? Write these qualities down to stay focused. Then, during the interview, ask two key questions:

  1. What are the traits of people who succeed and advance in this organization/company or in this role?
  2. What are the traits of people who don’t?

Then, using their feedback, review the list you made and see how well you match what they are- and are not- looking for. Remember it’s better to know up front that you will not mesh well and continue your job search than to accept a job, feel miserable, and start your search all over again.

For more about this idea, check out Larssens’ article here: https://www.themuse.com/advice/the-2-questions-you-need-to-ask-to-figure-out-if-a-companys-right-for-your-career

Be Thankful… For The Interview!

Many students are concerned about what they should do BEFORE an interview. They go through mock interviews, pick out the perfect professional outfit, research the company and use Google Maps for directions.

Then there is a step in the interview process that some forget, and it is just as important as arriving early! AFTER the interview, not many candidates take the time to write a thank you note, and because this has become rare, it is a wonderful way for students to stand out. Be sure to collect business cards of everyone you meet throughout your interview.

So what should a thank you note say? First and foremost, thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you. Mention something you particularly enjoyed, for example, “I appreciate that you took me on a tour of the building and introduced me to the other members of the Graphic Design team; it’s so wonderful to be able to put faces with names!” Use another sentence or two to remind them of your skills and why you are a perfect fit for the position. Finally, emphasize that you are truly interested in the position and thank them again.

Make sure to send a thank you e-mail within 24 hours, to each individual with whom you interviewed. Also, send a handwritten thank you card to each individual. A thank you email is rare, but a handwritten thank you is even more rare! This will help you stand out as a polite, considerate candidate.

For more insight from Human Resources professionals regarding thank you notes, check out this link from our friends at Jobipedia: http://www.jobipedia.org/Questions/Conversation/What-should-I-say-in-a-thank-you-note-that-Im-sending-to-the-people-I-just-interviewed-with

That Awkward Moment When…

When preparing for an interview, it’s a common practice to psych yourself up: “Everything is going to be great! I’m going to answer every question perfectly!” It’s a wonderful way to build confidence, but it is also good practice to prepare for when things don’t go as well as hoped. Alyse Kalish from The Muse wrote an excellent piece on potentially awkward moments during an interview, and how to recover if they happen to you.  You can read the full article here: http://snip.ly/8Ils?utm_content=buffer3aa0d&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer#http://muse.cm/1Ldifur

Awkward Moment 1: You say something mean or rude about your previous employer
Recovery: More often than not, this happens because words come out wrong. Simply apologize and clarify “Oh, I’m so sorry, that didn’t come out right. What I meant to say is…”

Awkward Moment 2: You forget the word for something
Recovery: Don’t make something up! Just work around it and shift the focus to what is important- the topic is more significant than the name of a class or piece of lab equipment.

Awkward Moment 3: You swear
Recovery: Apologize and redirect! “I am so sorry, when I talk about XYZ I tend to get excited.  Essentially, …” For the rest of the interview, remember to breathe before you answer to prevent your excitement- and word choice- from getting ahead of you.

Awkward Moment 4: A question from out of the blue
Recovery: Reassure yourself (internally) that it happens to everyone. Ask the interviewer to give you a moment to think through your response.

Awkward Moment 5: There’s a lull in the conversation
Recovery: Don’t feel compelled to keep talking. Many times employers need a moment to take notes, physically or mentally. Take this opportunity to breathe and psych yourself up for the next question.

Awkward Moment 6: Your phone beeps, bings, or rings
Recovery: Resist the urge to answer it or type a response! Apologize, turn the volume- or better yet, your whole phone- off, and put it back in your bag or pocket.

Awkward Moment 7: Wardrobe Malfunction
Recovery: Clean up or fix the issues as best as you can, and make a joke to the interviewer. “Looks like my coffee would rather join the interview than stay in the cup!” Then, don’t focus on it again. Bonus points if you have a stain remover stick or an extra pin at the ready in case this happens to you!