Archive | Interviewing

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

When you finally feel ready to balance school and a career, it’s time to take those important first steps. You’ve drafted up your resume, sent it out, and you’re ready to start showing up at job interviews. You’re probably looking to land a more lucrative position than the summer job you worked as a teenager, and a real job interview is a totally new ball game. Be in it to win it, and try to avoid making some of the most common mistakes.

Talking Too Much About School

Valuable university experiences lend themselves to your ability to perform well in a specific career. The person interviewing you read your resume, and they’re well aware of those experiences. Touch on them a little bit, but don’t do so to the detriment of any real-life career experience you may have under your belt.

Not Knowing What to Say

You’ve probably given speeches or oral presentations as a student. This isn’t the way you want to speak to someone who is interviewing you for a job. This person wants to know that you have a deep knowledge of the company and the culture, but try not to act like you’re educating them about the things they already know. Make it more about how the qualities you have can help their business succeed.

Looking Uncomfortable

It’s natural to be a little nervous, but it’s important not to let your nerves show. You might look uncomfortable because your dress shoes are too tight or your belt should be let out a setting, and you need to feel comfortable. It’s easier to process your thoughts and eloquently express them when you’re wearing attire that fits you properly.

Not Having Any Questions

At first impulse, it might seem impolite to question the person who is interviewing you. This person actually wants you to ask them questions. Ask about company culture, or what charitable causes their company supports. Show an interest and understanding about the future of the company. Find out some information about the company you’re interviewing for, and ask about what you’ve learned – the interviewer will appreciate it.

Leaving Out Crucial Information

Do you have a business card? They’re inexpensive, easy to design, and extremely helpful in professional situations. If the person considering you for a great position wants to look you up on professional social networks or give you a call, your business card should make it easy for them to find you.

Being Too Forward

Every student needs more money! This is a universal truth. It may put a bad taste in an HR professional’s mouth if you come out swinging about salary or hourly pay. Wait until you’re offered the position before you open up the discussion. It may help to negotiate a little less if you know your career path will have opportunities for advancement. You can negotiate a little more once you’ve established yourself.

Letting Stress Show

Students are constantly under a lot of pressure. Don’t bring that stress with you into the interview room. Read as many practice questions as you can, and verbally deliver the answers to yourself in a mirror. You’ll feel more comfortable making your point and you’ll have an opportunity to refine your answers as much as possible before anyone can hear them. Don’t sweat it.

Forgetting to Check In

The interview isn’t over when you walk out of the room. Remember to place a follow up call or send an email. Wait a few days to reach out – too soon seems pushy, but forgetting to call altogether may give them the impression that you aren’t genuinely interested in the position.

Everyone makes mistakes during interviews, but the most important thing to remember is that you can learn from them. If one interview doesn’t go so well, take what you’ve learned and make the next interview great.

This article was contributed by guest author Corinne Ledling.

Throughout your professional journey there are many times a polished image can aid in your success. From interning to interviews, presentations or future job promotions, being mindful of what you’re wearing can have a great influence on your confidence and overall achievements. Deciding what to wear to work becomes a direct reflection of who you are. Although many companies today do lean towards a culture of business casual, there are still plenty of fields, positions, and circumstances where business formal is respectable. But what really defines business formal from business casual? Is there a rulebook? Dress codes are surely a subjective topic, a case by case situation between candidate and company. One thing is for certain: dressing for success is an important step in any professional preparation process.

Why Does What You Wear Matter?

● It takes only a tenth of a second to form an impression of a complete stranger from the appearance of their face alone.
● Within the first minute of an introduction, people subconsciously form a positive, negative, or neutral opinion of others.
● Clothing impacts perceptions of one’s personal & professional image.

The Five Most Common Dress Codes Mentioned throughout Job Listings (No specific order)

● Business Formal
● Business Professional
● Business Casual
● Small Business Casual
● Creative

How to gain insights on a company’s dress code before you interview:

1) Observe: When in the office to drop off a resume/application, take note of the outfits that others are wearing. Is there a sneaker culture or are dress shoes more the norm?
2) Get Online: Through the company’s social profiles you can often find pictures that give you an inside look at the company culture, including everyday attire worn by current employees. The website of a prospective employer may be far more formal than the culture of the office. Don’t rely on executive headshots to give you an idea of the office attire.
3) Visit: Take a stroll around the surroundings of the office. Watching people pass through the lobby or parking lot can give you a better sense of the work-crowd in that specific area.
4) Ask: If you know someone already employed, use them as a resource. And when in doubt, when you get the job, just ask your HR representative before your first day!

Even the most prepared candidates who research their prospective role as well as the company background, will commonly forget to consider the office dress code. T.M.Lewin, London-based tailors, have crafted a handy guide to help us decipher the various workplace dress codes. Aspiring professionals should be able to navigate office cultures with confidence, style and ease. T.M.Lewin has been dressing professional workforces since 1898 with a popular range of men’s and ladies’ shirts.

Image from Caleb Wells

This article was contributed by guest author Caleb Wells.

Do you know that over 60% of employers actually look at a potential employee’s social media profiles in order to help make their final decision? It is important that all job seekers know what is on their social media accounts and steps they can take in order to have their social media actually help with their job search. Here are some tips to keep in mind when updating your profiles.

Image by Melissa Swanson

This article was contributed by Stevenson University.

Image courtesy of Dave Landry

The days of differentiating yourself from the rest of the hireable crowd using a paper resume, placed on top of another stack of possible candidates is so past tense. Putting your important stats on a certain type of high quality paper, using a “special” color with a unique texture, is from our grandparents’ era, not ours.

Welcome to the 21st century!

Paper is passe and today, technology is king. Faxes are antiquated, emails are usually simply scanned or overlooked altogether, rarely opened and quickly filed into the “trash” folder without even being reviewed. Live interviews, especially those found on the Skype platform, are where your potential employers will find the most qualified candidate they’ll see today.

But how can you put your best foot forward and be that candidate?

Turn In The Rest and Put Out Your Best

During the early stages of the hiring process, potential employers will ask for these types of outdated applications, but on a more technological scale, such as a resume submitted online, including where you’ve studied, your references, and contact information. They may want other online information such as your Facebook profile and LinkedIn information, but here’s where you can offer something more valuable instead – an individual, up-to-date, and realistic, face-to-face meeting on Skype.

Here are ten tips on how to make sure this meeting goes off without a hitch:

1. Speaking of hitches, if there are technical difficulties, stay professional and don’t panic.

2. Do a practice run with a friend or family member. Look for possible problems before you go live with a potential employer.

3. Dress for success. Not that you have to wear a tuxedo, but look professional.

4. And wear pants! Just because you’ll only be seen from the waist up doesn’t mean something unexpected might happen that will make you get up for some reason.

5. Make sure you have a professional username. There’s nothing wrong with using your full name or even your initials and your last name. This will also help to remember who you are in the real world.

6. Consider your background. A cluttered or junky looking backdrop is no way to make a first impression.

7. Wear a headset. This shows that you’re not only well-equipped, but this will help lessen the occurrence of unnecessary background noise.

8. Avoid unnecessary interruptions. Close down your email and social media notifications, and turn off the sound on your phone. Make sure other people in your household are aware you’re unavailable and not to be bothered during the time of your interview.

9. Maintain eye contact and be yourself. While you’ll want to remain professional, you don’t want to be so tightly wound that you come off frigid or unfriendly.

10. Don’t avoid using Skype. If this is the platform a possible employer wants to use, go with it and don’t make excuses. Even if you’re more comfortable on the phone or prefer an interview in person, accommodate their request.

Using today’s technology is what employers are expecting and you should treat a Skype interview the same way you would a face-to-face meeting. Good luck on your online interview!

This article was contributed by guest author Dave Landry.

Image by Alex France, Flickr

Image by Alex France, Flickr

Going to a job interview is always stressful, especially if you are a freshly-baked post-graduate. But when your confidence is too low, and you can hardly breathe or talk, it can actually ruin your interview. Everyone is shy and anxious, but you need to find ways to boost your self-esteem before and during the interview. Here are a few tips to do that:

1) In-depth preparation
Quite a lot of graduates believe that their existing knowledge and skills are enough to fill the position they applied for. But the truth is that any position requires additional training and mastering new skills. What you should do right after you are invited to a job interview is look through the job application once more, even more thoroughly this time, and learn more about the aspects that are vague to you. No need for in-depth practical knowledge – only good awareness of what is expected from you and what additional skills you will have to master. Do extended research and make sure any job requirement is clear to you. Your CV must be adequate and truthful to reflect your real knowledge and skills, but it also has to be outstanding – check out this post to know more about writing a good CV. You can also use some online tools to create an impressive resume – such as, KickResume, or

2) Don’t let your confidence fall
Even those who are fully confident about their performance days and hours before the interview, may quickly start to panic when it is about to start. If this moment arrives, it’s important to concentrate on the facts that kept you confident earlier. Try to understand that nothing has changed and there is nothing to fear. You were invited here – which means they believe you can potentially be a good fit. You just need to prove it.

3) No do-or-die race
You should understand that even if this is your dream position, nothing bad will happen if you don’t get accepted. On the contrary, you will have a chance to test what it looks like, and then try again with another company. But that’s not all. When you were preparing for this job interview, you learned tons of new knowledge. Companies adore it when you don’t wait helplessly and desperately for your first job. They are the most likely to choose a candidate who keeps studying even after graduating. So this will be another portion of new knowledge to add to your resume. Your potential employer wants to make sure you are open to new insights, especially if this is job-related. Just remember that whatever happens, this interview will only make you stronger.

4) Don’t underestimate your acquired skills, yet don’t go too far
We had a chance to see graduates apply for jobs without mentioning some core competencies they’ve learned through self-studying. Very often they think that only education and previous professional experience matter. However, everything you practice at home, every job-related book you read, will be a huge bonus. Even if the skills are very necessary and mostly theoretical, this is an excellent start. However, don’t exaggerate your knowledge level – don’t claim you’ve professionally mastered the skill if you haven’t. The truth will soon come out and play against you. And also remember that real knowledge is more precious than good grades – getting straight A’s in college won’t help you find a job.

5) Analyse the company profile in detail
Make sure you know key information about the company you are applying to. Major products and services, the most important facts from the history of establishment, working environment and key traits. Analyse the website, social media accounts and make sure you remember the most important information. Let the interviewers know you really want to work in their organization and provide the reasons why.

6) Be clear about what you offer and learn to listen
Job interviewers mostly care about what you can bring into their company rather than who you are. Let them know that you are ready to bring value and that you either have necessary skills to do it or are willing to develop them. However, you need to show you can listen – not just listen without interruption but be able to analyze what the interviewer is saying, ask the right questions and admit that you are unaware of something.

But if you have found your ideal job and you are currently preparing for the first interview, you should understand that it is never a relaxing thing to do. Stressful and exhausted applicants often forget that they are not expected to know everything. Since they were chosen for this interview, someone saw potential in them, even if there are no solid past professional records to show. This is just a friendly chat where interviewers will also check your stress-resistance, communication, and instant analysis skills to make sure you can be a good team player in a company. Your personal qualities will determine 40% of your job interview result. Just relax and answer confidently with positive and clear answers.

This article was contributed by guest author Kevin McNamara.

Image by Alberto G. , Flickr

Image by Alberto G. , Flickr

Whether you’re attending university or working toward a degree online, sooner or later you’ll be asked to declare a major. When you make your choice, you’re committing yourself to the field of study that leads to your future career. It’s an important and sometimes worrying decision. You may already know exactly what you want to do. But if you’re still uncertain, you can receive guidance and insight by taking a personality test.

What Is a Personality Test?
Tests to determine what kind of temperament or personality a potential employee would display on the job were first developed in the 1920s. Since then, many different kinds of personality tests have been created. They’re designed to be used in a variety of fields such as career and relationship counseling, employment testing, and health and safety screening.

How Do Personality Tests Work?
The most common kind of personality test is the “self-report” variety. This asks the test-taker to rate his or her own responses to specific questions or situations; the responses are then analyzed and a “personality type” assigned. For example, the test-taker may be given an open-ended statement such, “In my ideal job I would like to work ….” Five or six possible responses could then include such things as “alone,” “with my hands,” “with other people,” and “in competition with others.” There’s no right or wrong answer. The test-taker is simply being asked to define attitudes that go to build up his or her personality.

How Can a Personality Test Help You Select Your Major?
A personality test that identifies which major is right for you is linked to the demands of the careers associated with that major. For example, let’s say that you’re considering enrolling in an online master’s in criminology but aren’t sure if it would be a good fit for you. Since a successful career in criminal justice requires a personality that is detail-oriented and highly organized, it’s in your best interest to find out if you possess these qualities.

What Personality Tests for Majors are Available?
The most popular personality test is the Meyers and Briggs Type Indicator. Many universities administer the test at their career centers, academic advising offices and their online sites. They may also counsel students about major choices based upon test results.

A university degree costs a lot in terms of money and personal effort. Taking a personality test to help you select your major—and future career—can save you time and expenses. And you’ll learn something about yourself in the process.

This article was contributed by guest author Anica Oaks.

Image by Shilad Sen, Flickr

Image by Shilad Sen, Flickr

You studied hard, did your work, participated in discussions, and earned good grades. This is self-promotion in terms of the college classroom. Self-promotion in the job market requires skills too, but they may not be so very different from those you’ve already mastered. Consider the following.

1. Know the field you want to enter
In university terms, this means assembling sources of information. Before sending in applications and setting up interviews, make a general survey of the businesses that interest you most. Consider their location, their structure, and the positions they offer. This information will give you confidence as you proceed.

2. Research your field by making direct contact with potential employers
If you were writing a paper for class, you’d start by gathering information. When preparing to promote yourself to a potential employer, you can ask those questions and seek more information even before sending in an application. Polite emails introducing yourself and asking intelligent questions form a first contact in the job-seeking process.

3. Review what you’ve learned and streamline your self-image
As you gather information about the jobs you want, consider how what you have to offer matches what potential employers are seeking. The overlapping features are those that you’ll most actively promote during the job search.

4. Develop a CV that reflects your intentions
Consider your current CV a “rough draft” for your next job interview. Using the information you’ve acquired through your research, prepare a final draft of the CV especially for this interview. The new CV will in turn be a rough draft for the next interview.

5. Prepare for the job interview
When writing papers for university, you were expected to develop a “thesis statement,” a position you were attempting to prove correct. Prepare for your job interview by creating a thesis statement about yourself and why you are a good fit for the job under consideration.

6. Be prepared to present yourself in a positive and objective way
You gave many class presentations at university. Good preparation and practice were the key. When you are called in for a job interview, access the same skills. Speak with confidence about material that you know very well: yourself and your abilities.

7. View your field from new angles
The job market is constantly changing, bringing new challenges and new opportunities. It may be that enhancing your abilities will help you meet those challenges more effectively. Consider enrolling in an MBA program online, for example, not only to add to your skill set but also to keep you up to date on the most recent developments in your field.

Self-promotion requires courage, commitment, patience, and practice, as well as self-knowledge and honesty. These qualities helped you during your college years, and will continue to do so as you emerge in the business world.

This article was contributed by guest author Lizzie Weakley.

Image by Alex France, Flickr

Image by Alex France, Flickr

Find out everything you need to ensure your interview goes smoothly. It’s hard enough interviewing for a job as one person amongst a large pool of applicants, possibly with better qualifications than you. Ensure you look and sound presentable, so as to let both your professionalism and qualifications do the talking. Use this article as a checklist before going to your next interview.

Pen and paper

The pen and paper are the golden job interview supplies. If you take one thing away from this article, let it be that you should always have a pen and paper when interviewing for a new job, and on your first day on the job, if you are lucky enough to get hired. If appropriate, take notes during the interview without noticeably dividing your attention or neglecting eye contact. This will show you are serious about the job, and know how to organize. Do not try to substitute your phone for a pen and paper – no matter what you are typing it always looks like you are texting instead of fully focusing on the interview.


For the unpredictable runny nose or sniffles, monster sneeze, nosebleed, shiny face, or spills. Kleenex can be substituted with coffee shop napkins.


You never know when you could get caught in the rain, your hair band could break, or the wind could sweep your hairstyle away. Combs are cheap at the dollar store or drug store. Pack one to avoid messing up your hair and your professional first impression.

Breath mints

Sometimes breath mints may seem extraneous, but I make it a rule to always eat one before I need make an important first impression. Even if you think your breath is fine, pop a mint or swig some Listerine – just in case.

Prepare a question to ask the interviewer

Inevitably, towards the end of your meeting the interviewer will ask you, “So, do you have any questions for me?” Unless you feel you can pass up this opportunity to impress your potential employer, have at least one question prepared. Here are several questions that exhibit thought, professionalism, and insight:

“As an employee here, what could I do to exceed your expectations?”
“If I were to start tomorrow, what should the top three things be on my priority list?”
“Are there any questions you think I should be asking?”

Extra resume(s)

Even if you sent a resume in with your application, bring at least one hard copy to the interview. If there are multiple applicants, the interviewer may not have all their resumes present, or may not have had time to fully go over your application. Having your resume in front of them will give them a more tangible and better understanding of your qualifications. If you know you will be interviewed by more than one person, bring a suitable number of copies.

With these items in your interview preparedness pack, you can make your best professional impression. Use this article as a checklist before going to your next interview.

Tip: If you’re worried about timing, or if you’re travelling a long way to get to the interview and are inviting time delays, leave extra early. Scout out a nearby coffee shop on Google Maps, and plan to go there half an hour early for a refresher before the interview. On a really hot day you can get sweaty from travelling. Plan to stop at a coffee shop beforehand to clean up. Looking presentable is half the battle – the rest is up to you.