• Ask Matt: How to respond to the 5 most basic interview questions [video]

    May 11, 2017 by

     

    Dear Matt: I recently completed an interview, and realized, I wasn’t prepared to answer the most basic interview questions. I spent more time preparing for that odd, or unique question that may come up, and not enough time on the basics. What are some answers or responses to the most basic interview questions every recent job seeker should be sure to master before the next interview?  Continue Reading

  • Ask Matt: The best job interview questions to ask employers

    April 13, 2017 by

     

    Dear Matt: Do you have any interview tips? I always read about how important it is for recent college grads to ask the right interview questions during a job interview, but, I never know what job interview questions to ask. Can you provide a list of these interview questions and what employers want recent college grads and entry-level job seekers to ask?

    Matt: I will say this, I wish I had a list of job interview questions to ask when I was interviewing for entry-level jobs. Because it certainly would have not only helped me ask the right interview questions, it would have also helped with interview preparation, and confidence.

    Good news! There is a great, extended list of the best job interview questions to ask employers listed below, featuring outstanding advice from recruiters from corporate America, and career management leaders from two of the top business schools in the country.

    The reality is, if you are confident, and prepared, going into an interview, you can relax, be yourself, and shine.

    But many job seekers, especially recent college grads, are shy or timid when going into those first job interviews. I was one of them, and looking back at those early interviews, I never did ask the right questions, because I wasn’t prepared to ask the right questions. That makes a huge difference in how employers view you, and your potential to succeed in the job and fit in with the team.

    “Not asking questions can signal lack of interest, and a missed opportunity to sell yourself,” says Susie Clarke, director of Undergraduate Career Services at Indiana’s Kelley School of Business. “It is important to remember that an interview is a two way street and they expect you will have questions, so show them you are prepared and interested in their position.”

    Corinne M. Snell, Ed.D., the Assistant Dean of Student Professional Development at Fox School of Business at Temple University, agrees. Prior to her current role, Snell worked in corporate America, working in college relations roles for Campbell’s Soup Company, Siemens Health Services, and Lutron Electronics.

    “A certain level of spontaneity is expected in any job interview, but candidates should have a list of questions prepared in advance,” said Snell. “The worst thing one can do is indicate he/she has no questions or say something like, “Um, I think we already covered everything.”

    One of the biggest things a college student or recent graduate needs to remember is that just as much as the recruiter or hiring manager is interviewing them, they are also interviewing the potential employer, says Justin Bischoff, Talent Acquisition Advisor at Buffalo Wild Wings, a casual dining restaurant and sports bar franchise.

    “Ask questions about the things that matter to you,” says Bischoff. “These should be things that you feel will make you stay with an employer long term.”

    Try to keep it conversational, says Bischoff. For example, if you’re interested in sales, ask something such as “earlier in our interview you mentioned that one of the main focuses of this role is to drive sales in the restaurant, can you tell me a little more about that?”

    Asking about the culture of the organization and development programs also impresses employers, says Bischoff.

    “I am also impressed by a candidate who has done their research on the organization and the position prior to the interview,” says Bischoff. “By asking questions on matters that are truly important to you about what you have learned, you are able to showcase the time and effort you’re putting into joining the organization’s team.”

    Snell puts it bluntly, saying “Job seekers need to prepare for that moment when the employer turns the table and asks ‘what questions do you have for me?'”

    That’s what impresses today’s corporate recruiter, says Asma Anees, a Talent Advisor with Blue Cross, a Minnesota healthcare provider. She leads college relations at Blue Cross and is one of the first persons to interview/phone screen recent college grads and entry-level employees who interview with the company.

    Anees suggest job seekers break down interview questions into four categories, focusing on asking about:

    • The position/job
    • Evaluation
    • Training
    • About the company

    Anees provides these job interview question and answer tips:

    The position/job
    Job seekers who ask about the challenges of the position stand out, says Anees. Employers like candidates who want to be challenged, and who want to know about what it takes to succeed in that role. “It helps me understand their willingness to take on certain duties,” says Anees.

    Evaluation
    Anees likes it when job seekers ask job interview questions such as “What are the performance expectations or how will I be evaluated?”

    “These students have received grades for everything they do for the last however many years,” says Anees. “These Millennials want to know where they stand, and I can appreciate that. It tells me they want to perform well and be rewarded for it.”

    Training
    Good question to ask: Will there be any training or mentorship for this role? Anees says job seekers who want to pursue professional development opportunities stand out to her.

    Company
    Job seekers who are curious about the business, strategic plan, how the company makes a difference, and if the company is growing, are “all great questions,” says Anees. “It tells me they care for the well-being of the organization and their future.”

    Snell provides these sample job interview questions to ask employers:

    1. Questions related to the position:

    • What are the key qualities necessary for someone to excel in this role?
    • What are your expectations for this role during the first 30, 60 and 90 days?
    • What is the typical career path for someone in this position?

    2. Questions related to the company?

    • How would you describe the company culture (or values)?
    • What do you like best about working for this company?

    3. Questions related to the industry (these should vary from industry to industry):

    • What recent changes has the company made to product packaging?
    • How has industry consolidation affected the company?
    • How does the economy affect company sales?
    • What percentage of revenues does the company invest in R&D?
    • How is the company challenged by government regulations?

    4. Questions related to the hiring process:

    • What are the next steps in the interview process?
    • When do you expect to make a decision?

    “The likelihood of having sufficient time to ask a multitude of questions is slim, so the candidate needs to be prepared and have several questions ready,” says Snell. “Interviewing is a two-way street and employers do expect job seekers to be prepared with thoughtful, insightful questions.”

    Remember this though – thoughtful and insightful do not revolve around asking how much vacation time one gets, salary, or benefits. In time, that information will be discussed.

    Some of the best job interview questions to ask employers, says Clarke, include:

    1. Would you please tell me about yourself and your career path?
    Yes – job seekers should ask the person conducting the interview this. This will allow you to learn more about the employer, what this person likes about the company, and could create a common interest to make the follow-up connection stronger. “It is all about building relationships and showing genuine interest is important,” says Clarke.

    2. What are the reasons you stay with this company, or why did you recently join the company?
    Their response will typically tell you a lot about the work environment/culture of the company. “For many college students and recent college grads, the company culture is an important criteria when making their decision,” says Clarke.

    3. What skills or characteristics have led to your success here?
    This is an opportunity for you then to highlight your strength that relates to one of these skills if you have not already.

    4. I have learned a lot today and even more excited about this opportunity, so is there anything else I could provide or questions I can address about my ability to do this job?
    “This shows that you want the job and want to eliminate any concern that they might still have,” says Clarke.

    When the interview is near completion, and if the employer has not covered this already, Clarke says you should always ask: What are the next steps in the interview process?

    “This is important, so you know what to expect and when to follow-up if you have not heard back from them,” says Clarke.

    Asking the right questions during your interview can impact your chances of landing the job, says Bischoff.

    “When a candidate asks thought-provoking questions, it shows that they have solid communication skills, are genuinely interested in the opportunity, and are looking to make a long-term investment,” says Bischoff. Ultimately, asking the right questions makes that interview and the candidate memorable when it comes time for a hiring decision.”

    Dara Warn, Chief Outcomes Officer, Penn Foster Education Group, says that asking questions about how the company onboards new employees can impress employers:

    How does the company onboard new employees? Can you talk about what that process looks like?
    Why this question: By asking this question, the job candidate is demonstrating their interest in the company culture and its commitment to employees and their career path and setting them up for success from the outset. “The first several months in a new job are a key period in building the relationship between employee and employer, and the candidate wants to know that the company is a place they can grow and mature,” says Warn. “In our work with employer partners, we’ve helped design mentor programs, where new employees develop and strengthen workplace and interpersonal skills.”

    Another good question, says Warn, is asking “How does your company encourage its employees to collaborate/work as a team, and demonstrate integrity and initiative?”   
    Why this question: This question coming from a candidate demonstrates that he/she already possesses some “soft skills” that are typically learned and honed once in the workforce. This student may have graduated from an institution that offers soft skills (or “power skills”) training in the form of a standalone program and is already ahead of the curve when it comes to developing these critical work/life skills.

    Good questions will show that you have researched the position, company, and even highlight some of your strengths. “This signals to the employer that you are very interested and enthusiastic about the opportunity,” says Clarke.

    Show enthusiasm and interest when wrapping up the interview.

    “I appreciate when candidates take the last couple of minutes to reiterate their interest and why their skills and abilities would make an impact to the team,” says Anees. “Don’t forget to smile and a firm handshake.”

    Want more career and job search advice? Stay connected to College Recruiter by visiting our blog, and connect with us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

    Matt Krumrie CollegeRecruiter.com

    Matt Krumrie is a contributing writer for CollegeRecruiter.com

    About Ask Matt on CollegeRecruiter.com
    Ask Matt is a new monthly career advice column that offers tips and advice to recent college grads and entry-level job seekers. Have a question? Need job search or career advice? Email your question to Matt Krumrie for use in a future column.

  • How self-underestimation leads to job interview failure

    August 29, 2016 by
    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    People are notorious for underestimating their skills and abilities, and it happens for a variety of reasons. It’s a part of human nature to hesitate, to compare, and to have a fear of imperfection. Everyone faces these challenges on a daily basis. And when it comes to the job interview, every candidate knows there’s a crowd of other applicants who might be much better, which can cause panic. This feeling is a destructive force that can lead to a lack of confidence and low self-esteem. But there are also lots of things you can do to stay confident.

    The greatest weapon against self-underestimation is good preparation. When you know what you’re going to say and how you’re going to behave in a job interview, self-underestimation will be greatly reduced.

     

     

    Here’s what you need to do:

    Be active

    One of the most important things your potential employer wants to see is your record of engagement and activities. Besides studying, listing part-time jobs or freelance work is a plus. A huge plus is also going to be any other kind of engagement – running a blog, working as a tutor, starting a book club, volunteering, and so on. Focus especially on the activities that relate directly to the job for which you’re applying. Thanks to this information, you’ll prove to be an active and enthusiastic person, which is very desirable for any job position.

    Answer typical questions in advance

    Every employer asks a set of fairly typical questions. These often include the following: Why should we hire you? What are your greatest professional achievements? Where do you see yourself in five years? What are your strengths and weaknesses? They are rather simple and repetitive, and yet candidates tend to stumble when answering these questions. You have a chance to practice at home, so make the most of it. Ask your parent or friend to help. For half an hour, your parent or friend plays the part of “employer” and asks you those typical questions, and you answer them. Act as if you were in a real job interview and try to memorize what you would say to answer an employer’s questions.

    Learn more about the position

    Don’t forget to read the job description carefully and learn more information about the company to which you’re applying. Your employer will likely ask you what you know about the company. Your aim is to not get caught off-balance. Some people, especially when nervous, find it difficult to collect their thoughts, and as a result they get stuck. In order to avoid an awkward moment, research the company – there’s obviously a company website with all the information you’ll need to sound intelligent and articulate.

    Work on your cover letter and resume

    Make your cover letter and resume stunning so they stand out from others. In fact, these two items constitute a potential employer’s first impression of you, and it makes sense to do your best. Take care to avoid the following common mistakes:

    • There are lots of templates for cover letters and resumes available online, but using them without making changes is a bad idea. Recruiters receive dozens of cover letters and resumes that seem nearly identical. How can they choose the best one if all of them are equally ordinary? And what if employers check for plagiarism? I doubt they will want to hire someone who cuts corners and doesn’t bother to write a decent original resume and cover letter.
    • Don’t write the same information in both your resume and cover letters. These two papers should complement the image you introduce to the potential employer. Respect your employer’s time and don’t repeat yourself. Including irrelevant information is also no good.
    • Don’t make your cover letter too long or too short. Just find a happy medium. If you’re a recent graduate without much employment history, neither document should be longer than one page.
    • Check your cover letter and resume for mistakes and typos. Sometimes it happens that you don’t find errors within your text. For this reason, ask your friend to proofread your writing. In addition, you should also run your cover letter and resume through an automated spell checker.

    Confidence comes with practice, and your confidence in the job interview can only be gained if you prepare yourself and go to a few of them. Remember that recruiters are not your enemies, and you don’t need to resist them – you’re just going to have a nice talk to find out if you’re the right person for the position. You’ll see there’s no need to overly dramatize the process!

    Rose Scott, guest writer

    Rose Scott, guest writer

    Need more job search and job interview assistance? Check out our great salary calculator and free resume editing tool. Don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
    Rose Scott is a literature teacher who aims at improving education. A lifelong dreamer, she finds her inspiration in pep-talks with meaningful people whose enthusiasm is contagious. Outside of her teaching pursuits, she cannot imagine her life without writing. It is something more than just a hobby. Writing is her passion. Rose will be glad to meet you on her Twitter:@roserose_sc

  • 5 things recent grads must do when applying for jobs

    August 15, 2016 by
    Photo courtesy of StockUnlimited.com

    Photo courtesy of StockUnlimited.com

    Many recent graduates are looking for their first professional job now that graduation ceremonies have concluded. This is a scary yet exciting time in a young person’s life and there are tons of potential opportunities in front of them. However, it’s essential for job seekers to do a few things while applying for their first entry-level jobs. Some universities will have career centers that can point students in the right direction before they graduate while others will be left to search through their professional network to look for advice. The job application process can vary greatly from field to field, but either way there are a few universal things recent grads should do to ensure success when looking for jobs.

    1. A positive social media experience

    These days almost every person has a social media profile, or several, that can be a positive or negative representation of themselves. Recent graduates who do not yet have a LinkedIn profile should set one up straightaway and make sure they have a professional photo as well as a list of whatever they have done so far in their career. It’s absolutely okay to provide unpaid internships, volunteer experience, or extracurricular activities done while in college. Additionally, recent grads should make sure their Facebook and Twitter pages convey a professional representation of who they are as a person.

    2. Practice interview skills

    Most job seekers dread the thought of making a mistake at an interview. It’s one of the most nerve-wracking experiences a young person will have, and it doesn’t get much easier as time goes by. As a result, recent grads are encouraged to heavily practice their interview skills until they feel more at ease in the situation. There’s no way around it, the interviewer could decide to give the applicant a chance to start their dream career or pass their resume by. Although it’s great to practice interview skills with family and friends, students are also encouraged to seek the advice of a professional at their university’s career center who can give them constructive criticism. Another alternative is to have an informational interview with somebody in their potential field who can give them honest feedback about their performance.

    3. Answer tough questions with ease

    Complicated and unexpected questions can be very challenging to answer. Although students and recent grads can practice certain universally difficult questions, the reality is they will probably be caught off guard. Students should practice answering questions that may seem ridiculous or off base so they can control their reaction when it comes to the real deal. In many cases, the interviewer just wants to see how a potential employee will react as opposed to focusing on the specific answer to their question.

    4. Be (the best version of) yourself

    It’s really important for applicants to be themselves and let their genuine personality shine through. It’s important for the interviewer to know that the applicant is sincere and would be able to get along with other people in the office environment. However, it doesn’t hurt to be the best version of you. This means dressing nicely, being prompt, being flexible with the interviewer’s schedule, and setting aside the correct amount of time for the interview.

    5. Have a sense of humor about the job application process

    In addition to being pragmatic, recent grads are encouraged to maintain their sense of humor throughout the interview process. In the modern economy it’s quite possible that a highly qualified applicant won’t find and entry level position in their dream field right away. They may end up doing a second internship, working part-time in their field and moonlighting elsewhere, or they may have to keep the job they had when they were a student for a while. As long as students are improving as they go through the process they shouldn’t get too down on themselves. Eventually, most graduates find a good entry level position in their field but keeping a great sense of humor can keep spirits up during this transition.

    Robyn Scott, guest writer

    Robyn Scott, guest writer

    For more job search and interview tips, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

    About Robyn Scott, author: Robyn Scott, a guest writer for College Recruiter, is a private tutor with TutorNerds LLC. She has a BA from the University of California, Irvine, and a MA from the University of Southampton, UK.

  • 5 ways juniors can take advantage of career services

    July 19, 2016 by

    It’s finally your junior year of college. You’re more than halfway finished with your undergraduate courses. Woohoo!

    You can certainly breathe a sigh of relief and feel a sense of accomplishment, but you have some serious career-related tasks to accomplish this year. Most college students don’t simply land a great job after graduating. It’s a step-by-step process which requires you to do your part in collaboration with your career services office on campus. As Patricia Niemann, Career Development Consultant, puts it, “career development is the bridge that you will travel from your educational environment to future career opportunities.”

    This short video, hosted by College Recruiter’s Content Manager, Bethany Wallace, lists six ways juniors in college can take advantage of career services to get ahead in the job search game.


    If the video is not playing or displaying properly click here.

    1. Ensure that you’ve written a super solid resume and cover letter.

    Now is the time to edit and update your resume with the help of your career services office on campus and to create a basic cover letter if you didn’t do so during your sophomore year. Career services will be glad to help you do this. Most career services offices even host special resume workshops and events, or you can set up a one-on-one resume appointment. No matter what approach you take, get it done. Don’t wait until the day before a job or internship interview. Creating or editing a resume takes time, even for a professional.

     

    2. Gain work experience in your field of study.

    It doesn’t matter if the experience is paid or unpaid. It doesn’t matter if you work five or 20 hours per week. It simply matters that you gain work experience in your field of study or as closely related to your field of study as possible. Are you majoring in criminal justice? Contact your local police department to ask about opportunities there. Is there a battered women’s shelter or sexual assault center in your area? Perhaps you could serve as a volunteer victim’s advocate. The possibilities are endless, but you have to take initiative. Working with career services is priceless. It’s the job of a career services professional to keep in touch with local employers and to serve as a liaison with organizations like these. Let your career services professionals work as advocates for you. Why do all the hard work yourself if you don’t have to? Don’t overlook sites like CollegeRecruiter.com, either. We can help. When you register, you tell us what you’re looking for, and we send you new job postings related only to your search criteria.

     

    3. Up your networking game.

    During your first and second years of college, it might have been enough to simply keep your social media sites clean of inappropriate content and to occasionally add new contacts. That’s not going to cut it your last two years of undergraduate study.

    Start reaching out to alumni and chatting with employers via discussion boards online. Dedicate at least 30 minutes to these activities per week. Up your game online, and you’ll be surprised how many connections you’ll gain and what types of opportunities may surface as a result. Each time you attend an event with employers present, retain business cards and invite those employers (recruiters, hiring managers, and others) to connect with you on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other professional networking sites. If they don’t accept your invitations, don’t take it personally. If they do connect with you, send a personal message thanking them for adding you. Don’t harass employers online or send annoying messages, but don’t be afraid to like their posts or comment on content they share in a thoughtful and insightful manner.

     

    4. Acquire better soft skills.

    Ask career services professionals for opportunities to improve your soft skills. Seek feedback from your career services staff on where your strengths and weaknesses lie in terms of soft skills. Are you great at communicating in writing but poor at communicating face-to-face? You might need to practice interview questions with a career services member before conducting on-campus interviews with employers. Are you a strong leader but not so great at teamwork? Find ways to get involved in organizations requiring you to collaborate with others on campus.

     

    5. Take grad school entrance practice exams.

    If you plan on attending graduate school after you graduate from college, it’s a good idea to take practice exams for the GRE, MCAT, and other entrance exams for graduate schools during your junior year. Most of these are offered at no cost and can be found online. Career services offices often offer assistance in pointing students to these exams or to study guides on many campuses.

     

    Lastly, and this is a bonus tip: don’t just attend the career fair your junior year of college.

    The career fair is a great event—and a must—but challenge yourself to attend at least two other events sponsored by career services as well. Ask your career services office which events are most important on your campus. Is it the etiquette dinner, on-campus interviews, mock interviews, or other key events? Each campus has its own key events, so don’t assume you know which matter most without asking.

    Want more help finding ways to guarantee career success? Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

     

  • How to conduct a successful informational interview

    May 11, 2016 by
    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Photo by StockUnlimited.com

    Interviewing is hard. And stressful – especially for the recent college graduate or entry-level job seeker who has limited experience in an interview setting. To gain more experience, and to expand your professional relationships, consider conducting an informational interview. The purpose of an informational interview is to gather information and meet someone who is in a role or company you aspire to be in. It’s not a job interview – the person conducting the informational interview (you) should be the one asking the questions.

    “Informational interviews are a good way to get the answers you need to make career choices,” says Bill Driscoll, the New England District President of Accountemps, a division of Robert Half, and the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. “Asking experienced professionals who have specialized expertise about their role and what it involves can give you real-world insights.”

    In fact, 36 percent of chief financial officers (CFOs) polled said these meetings are becoming more common, with nearly one-third (31 percent) receiving informational interview requests at least once a month. Job seekers should take note – 84 percent of executives said when someone impresses them in a meeting, it’s likely they will alert that person to job openings at the company.

    Although informational interviews are not intended solely to seek a certain position in a company, it can set you up for consideration of future roles if you make a good impression. It could also lead to referrals to other contacts or job openings.

    Informational interview etiquette guidelines

    There are some basic etiquette guidelines to follow when requesting an informational interview, says Driscoll:

    • First, narrow down who you would ask for an informational interview. Create a list of companies you would like to work for, identify career paths that would suit your strengths and interests, and consider which industries interest you. Once you’ve identified these key factors, do some online research to choose the correct contact to interview.
    • Email is a good introductory mode of communication. Keep it simple – be concise but friendly. Briefly go over your background, state the reason you are reaching out to them, and request a meeting or phone call. Be sure to include why you want to meet that person in particular.
    • Look to your professional network to make an introduction. Seeing a message from a familiar name may increase your chance of getting a response.
    • LinkedIn can help you identify contacts and send messages. Keep in mind that people don’t necessarily log on to LinkedIn each day or check their messages on the site, so you might not get a quick response.
    • A phone call is another option to reach an informational interview candidate. Be prepared with what you’ll say in case you get a hold of the person or their voicemail.

    How to prepare for an informational interview

    Research the company and person you are meeting. Informational interviews tend to be short, so use the opportunity to ask the questions you genuinely want answered. Come prepared with your list of questions. Things you might want to ask are:

    • How did you get started in this industry/company/career path?
    • What is a typical day like?
    • What are the most important skills required in this role/industry?
    • How did you get your job?
    • Can you name some industry associations that I should join?
    • What do you like most about your company?

    Dress professionally for your informational interview – just like you would for a job interview.

    “Remember this is a business meeting and the way you dress can say a lot about you,” says Driscoll.

    Go into an informational interview with a clear understanding that this is a chance to learn about a career, industry and company, to expand your professional relationships and to become better prepared for future interviews. Just don’t expect it to always lead to a job or job interview with that company.

    “An informational interview is a great way to meet someone who can make hiring decisions, but don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t lead to a job interview,” says Driscoll. “The point is to learn and establish an important business relationship.”

    When the informational interview is done, don’t forget to show gratitude. Always mail a handwritten thank-you note after an interview and keep your new contact updated on your job search and career progress.

    Need career advice as a recent graduate? Go to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

     

    Bill Driscoll, Accountemps

    Bill Driscoll, New England District President of Accountemps

    Bill Driscoll is the New England District President of Accountemps, a division of Robert Half, and is based in the company’s Boston office. Bill oversees professional staffing services for Robert Half’s 23 offices throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island and portions of New York. Bill is considered a local and national expert on recruiting practices, hiring and job search trends, and other workplace issues.

    Ready to begin your job search? Start at College Recruiter today!

  • 7 interview appearance tips

    April 19, 2016 by

    Did you know that 65% of employers admit that clothing can be the deciding factor between similar candidates in the hiring process?

    Apparently what you wear—and your overall interview appearance—really matters. It’s important to plan ahead for your interview, and that includes thinking about your interview appearance from head to toe. No one wants to wake up the morning of an interview, hitting snooze too many times to the point of having to skip a shower, yanking the first presentable outfit out of the closet, dreading the interview the entire time. That’s really setting yourself up for interview failure.

    Set yourself up for interview success instead by watching this video featuring College Recruiter’s Content Manager, Bethany Wallace. You’ll learn seven simple ways to enhance your interview appearance.


    If the video is not playing or displaying properly click here.

    1.. Research the position, the company, and the career field.

    Expectations for interview appearance and attire vary based on these criteria. If you’re interviewing in a super casual work environment, you can get away with wearing business casual attire (slacks, blouse, and flats). However, if you’re interviewing at a large corporation for a management position, you better don a business suit. Doing your homework and understanding the corporate culture in advance will help you avoid major interview appearance mistakes. If  your homework doesn’t help you make a clear decision, stop by the career services office on campus and ask for advice.

    2. If in doubt, err on the side of conservative and classy. Translation: wear a suit.

    If you aren’t sure what to wear, and your research yields few clear results, wear a suit. It’s better to dress up than to dress down for a job interview. Your future employer will most likely be impressed that you took time and energy to invest in your interview appearance.

    If you wear a business suit, be sure it’s clean, pressed, and tailored. If you can’t afford to have it dry cleaned, clean it yourself on the gentle cycle and iron it carefully on the lowest setting. Have it tailored to fit you (or hem it yourself if necessary), but do not wear a suit with cuffs that are too long and too-long hemlines. This makes you look like you’re wearing your grandma’s suit, and that’s not a cute look for anyone.

    3. Don’t blow your budget on interview attire.

    As a college student or recent grad, you simply can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars on an expensive suit or interview outfit. Be savvy and scour consignment stores for great deals on secondhand suits in excellent shape. Try to find suits that are still considered modern or fashionable, though, if possible. You don’t want to sport a look that was popular three decades ago.

    4. Clean up.

    Don’t sleep late the morning of an interview. Take a shower and practice good hygiene in every way. Clean hair, nails, and teeth let your interviewers know that you take pride in your interview appearance as well as minor details—and this lets them know you’ll take pride in the work you’ll do for them if hired. Skip heavy doses of cologne and perfume, and avoid exposure to cigarette smoke before a job interview.

    5. Avoid excessive everything.

    Flashy jewelry, sparkly eyeshadow, dangly earrings, bold neckties, colorful patterns, and fun socks are all great ways to demonstrate your personality in everyday life. Skip these over-the-top accessories when dressing for your interview, though. Neutral colors and subtle patterns (or solid colors) are better choices for suits and clothing items. When choosing jewelry, shoes, and accessories, think classic.

    6. Put the focus on you, not your appearance.

    By taking the previous tips into consideration, you’ll allow yourself the freedom to relax. This will help potential employers to focus on YOU, not your appearance. You won’t be fidgeting or fighting your own outfit. Instead, your future boss will notice your soft skills, your ability to work the room, your great laugh, and your attention to details when answering questions and responding to others.

    You never want recruiters to remember the way you fixed your hair the day of an interview. You always want them to remember the reasons you listed for why they should hire you.

    7. Remember that if you’re not comfortable and confident, you can’t focus on the content of your conversation with your future employer.

    Lastly, choose clothing and accessories you feel completely comfortable and confident wearing. If you feel constrained or awkward, it will show in your facial expressions and body language, and that won’t win you any brownie points. You want to appear alert, focused, and grateful for the opportunity to be interviewed. If you’re thinking about how tight your jacket is, whether your pants are going to rip when you stand up or sit down, or how large the blister is on your right foot while you’re touring the job facility, you will certainly not have a Zen quality about you.

    Write a great resume, apply for jobs, and prepare well for interviews. Be sure to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for regular job search assistance and for more Tuesday Tip videos and articles like this.

     

     

  • 3 tips for a successful situational interview

    April 18, 2016 by
    Business cartoon showing psychologist asking interviewee dog a question courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    Cartoonresource/Shutterstock.com

    Have you ever had a situational interview? In situational interviews, interviewers ask candidates questions on how they might handle specific situations in the workplace; these interviews differ from behavioral interviews. When recruiters ask you behavioral questions, they ask you how you have handled situations in the past. When recruiters ask you situational questions, they want to know how you would hypothetically handle situations should they occur in the future. For students and recent grads who may lack work experience, situational questions give you a chance to shine and showcase your problem solving and critical thinking skills. These interviews also tell potential employers whether or not you’re the right cultural fit for their companies based on what you will do in the future, not what you’ve done in the past. Whether you’re a college student, recent graduate, or other job seeker, here are three tips to prepare you for a successful situational interview.

    1. See yourself in the job.

    When answering questions, answer them to explain the way you might behave in real settings in the workplace. Describe the action you would take as an employee and explain why you would take that action.

    2. Research potential employers.

    You don’t want to go into any interview without researching a potential employer. Understanding a company’s policies and company culture will give you a better idea of what it expects of employees. This can help you answer situational interview questions because you can, at least partly, base your responses on research.

    3. Avoid profanity and stay positive.

    Be careful not to use profanity during your situational interview. You may not only offend the interviewer, but you also leave a negative impression of how you might talk to co-workers. Stay positive, and keep focused on how you will help a potential employer. Never bash former employers or focus on what has gone wrong in the past. Situational interviews give you the chance to discuss what you might do differently if given the chance, so focus on being positive, hopeful, and optimistic.

    Situational interviews foreshadow what job seekers could be like in the workplace. Prepare to answer questions relevant to the job and company you’re interested in, so employers will see you as the best fit for them.

    Do you need more information on interviewing for your job search? Click on over to the College Recruiter blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.

  • 6 non-verbal interview tips

    April 12, 2016 by

    Do actions really speak louder than words? Many psychologists believe that 80 to 90% of communication is non-verbal or body language. Studies have shown that 55% of communication is body language or non-verbal communication, 38% is tone of voice, and 7% is the spoken word or verbal communication.

    If this research proves true—and when it comes to interviews, these numbers don’t lie—it’s probably a good idea to spend time not only reviewing common interview questions but also brushing up on your non-verbal interview skills. The following brief video, hosted by College Recruiter’s Content Manager, Bethany Wallace, will prepare you well for your next interview.


    If the video is not playing or displaying properly click here.

    1. Care what you wear.

    You only have about seven seconds to make a first impression when you meet someone; think strategically about how you present yourself from head to toe. How will you fix your hair? Have you bathed (and smell clean) but aren’t wearing strong scents (perfume and cologne)? Are you wearing obnoxiously bright colors or flashy jewelry? Did you choose a neutral-colored suit? If you’re a female, avoid open-toed shoes. If you’re a male, be sure to shine/polish your shoes and match your socks to either your shoes or slacks.

    Consider every element of your attire and appearance. This lets recruiters know that you value details.

    2. Control your facial expressions.

    Facial expressions play a big role in how others perceive our non-verbal skills or body language. Smile—avoid a deadpan facial expression during your interviews. It’s also critical to respond rather than react emotionally to interview questions. This doesn’t mean you want to keep a strict poker face when prodded to respond to questions about the worst boss you’ve ever had, but at the same time, you don’t want to snarl and roll your eyes, either. In general, keep your emotions in check at all times during interviews. A great way to do this is by maintaining a positive, pleasant facial expression and by pausing briefly before responding to difficult questions.

    3. Maintain good posture.

    Be mindful of your posture during your interview. Sit up straight unless you are physically unable to do so. This presents you as looking alert, interested, and full of energy; these are all desirable qualities in an employee. Avoid slumping or leaning on armrests of chairs. Adjust your seated position if you must. Try not to sit on the edge of your seat the entire time, though. Leaning back against the chair makes you appear more comfortable and relaxed, even if you’re totally nervous. Never let them see you sweat, right?

    4. Shake hands firmly.

    That old adage about having a firm handshake is absolutely still valid. This one applies to everyone. Don’t go overboard, though. Shaking hands isn’t a “feats of strength” contest. You also want to avoid shaking hands and holding on to your interviewer’s hand for a long time. That’s just plain creepy. A simple, brief, firm handshake is pretty easy to master and is a key non-verbal skill. You might need to practice, though, long before your first interview.

    5. Avoid distracting mannerisms.

    Mannerisms include nodding your head (avoid bobblehead syndrome), excessive hand movements, rapid eye movements or blinking, touching your face unnecessarily, playing with your hair, picking at your nails or cuticles, and other tiny habits you may have acquired over the years but don’t pay much attention to until you’re in the spotlight. In the interview setting, every distracting mannerism is noticed. You don’t need to sit completely still, but you do need to avoid fidgeting.

    This is one reason you should think carefully about your choice of hairstyle, accessories, and outfit. You want to be completely confident and comfortable. If you’re not, you’re going to be fidgeting with your clothing, hair, and jewelry; what’s better is to be focusing on the words you’re saying and the words your future employer is saying. You want your future employer to remember your savvy questions about the job opening, not the way you twirled your hair incessantly.

    6. Make consistent eye contact.

    Be sure to make consistent eye contact with your interviewer(s). You don’t want to stare down your future employer, but you do want to have a natural conversation during the interview. When you have a conversation, you make a moderate amount of eye contact. This is important in all interviews, even in group or team interviews. If one person asks a question, you must make eye contact with all team or group members when you respond, not just with the person who asked the question.

    Ultimately, attempt to strike a balance when it comes to non-verbal skills and body language during interviews. You really can’t go wrong with this approach.

    Need more interview tips to prepare you for your job search?

    Read articles on our blog, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. When you feel ready to apply, register and begin your job search with us.

     

  • 10 job interview questions you shouldn’t ask

    April 11, 2016 by
    Bad job interview - concept courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    Eviled/Shutterstock.com

    Congratulations! You’ve landed an entry-level job interview. Now, it is time to prepare for the big day, which includes creating some interview questions to ask if you get the chance. Keep in mind, though, there are questions college students and recent graduates should not ask their potential employers during interviews.

    1. How much does the job pay?

    Asking about salary in an interview tells the interviewer you’re more concerned with money than the actual job. I’m not saying money isn’t important, but save this discussion for after you have received a job offer.

    2. How many days of vacation do I get?

    It’s not wise for job seekers to ask about vacation time before landing entry-level jobs. Focusing on time off without a job offer leaves an impression that you lack commitment to work.

    3. Can I take time off during exams?

    This question might indicate to employers that college students have trouble handling multiple responsibilities, or that school is more important than work. Even though school work is a priority for students, employers are considering what is important to them.

    4. Can I use social media at work?

    It’s probably obvious to most (if not all) of you why job seekers shouldn’t ask this question. Interviewers would feel you’re more concerned with your Facebook friends and Twitter followers than succeeding at the position you’ve applied for.

    Businessman working from home on laptop courtesy of Shutterstock.com

    Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com

    5. Can I work from home?

    Asking this question can leave an interviewer wondering if you have an issue with coming to work regularly. Wait until proving yourself for a while on a new job before requesting to work from home.

    6. What kind of job is this?

    Please don’t ask this question. If you do, you might as well walk out of the interview. The interviewer expects you to know what kind of job you’ve applied for. You can find this information in the job posting and on the company website.

    7. When will I get promoted?

    Asking this question makes the assumption that a job seeker has won the position, which won’t impress the interviewer. Remember, you need to get the job first so concentrate on that. With a good attitude and hard work, you may eventually earn a promotion.

    8. Do you want my references?

    The interviewer is concerned about you, not anyone else. It’s great you have references but save them for later, and focus on nailing the interview.

    9. Are there any background checks?

    Asking potential employers about background checks raises a red flag in their minds that you have something to hide. If you’re sure of yourself as a job candidate, a background check or drug screen won’t bother you.

    10. Did I get the job?

    While I’m sure you can’t wait to find out if you got the job, avoid asking if you did in the interview. Unless you’re told otherwise, follow up to learn the employer’s decision. Don’t follow up too soon. It’s okay to ask the employer at the end of the interview about the timeline for filling the position—this lets you know how long to wait before calling to check on your status as an applicant.

    In a nutshell, job seekers should wait until after they receive employment offers before asking questions related to issues primarily benefiting themselves.

    Are you looking for more information to help you in your job search? Come over to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.