April 16, 2013

Dear Freshmen: having a successful interview

By Tyler Mercer–

The interview is the perfect time to demonstrate your skills, wit and award-winning personality.

Getting the job has become more and more difficult as the years have passed. The amount of education employers require and the skill of networking we should all strive to possess have increased significantly. Aside from spicing up your resume with extracurricular activities or with your applicable awards and achievements, there is one other very important thing that everyone needs to become comfortable with: the interview.

The job market for college students is perpetually changing and each new batch of freshmen students who need extra money over the summer changes as well. Different companies require that you have certain amounts of experience with retail sales, cash register work or maybe simply customer service experience. The problem with this is that some of these employers want you to have two or more years of experience with these things. For some, that simply isn’t possible when you consider that this summer job may be their first job ever.

The interview is the perfect time to demonstrate your skills, wit and award-winning personality. This first impression with an employer will determine whether or not they allow you to join their team. To be successful in future interviews there are a few things you should keep in mind: appropriate dress, your own abilities and the bills you need to pay.

Every interview will be different depending on the type of work you will be doing or even simply based on the individual conducting the interview. Likewise, the way you dress for each interview should vary as well. You may think that your Sunday best is appropriate for every interview and while you look dapper, I’m sure, a fast food restaurant isn’t looking for people in suits and dresses to serve their burgers. Dress for the occasion and wear clothing that you think you would be wearing to work each day, should you get the position.

The more serious and professional the position, the more likely it is that you should wear a suit. Interviews for dining establishments call for slacks and button-ups because, most likely, that is what you’ll be wearing to work. An interview for a retail store may be more laid back, but avoid wearing jeans or anything too casual. It is a common thought that an interviewer knows whether or not they will hire someone fairly soon into an interview, so don’t risk it and wear clothing that looks as though you’re ready to clock in and get right to work.

If you sent your resume to the interviewer ahead of time, he or she will have had time to look it over and get a general sense of what experience you have and maybe even the type of person you are. Understanding someone’s abilities and personality is much more difficult through paper, however, so it’s up to you and your interview to really show off and highlight your best features.

I had a chorus teacher in high school that encouraged her students to try their best and show off all of their skills in auditions. She said that while she knew what each of us was capable of, the judges didn’t know us apart from anyone else. An interview is the same; therefore, you need to show off your best abilities that are applicable to the job you are interviewing for in order to set you apart.

If you had a job working a church picnic stand you will have gained communication skills, customer service and money handling experience. If you worked at a fast food restaurant you most likely learned how to keep a positive attitude during crunch time along with the always valuable customer service and time management skills. These may not be flashy jobs, but if you can put a positive spin on things, you will see that you’ve picked up skills that are valuable and applicable to all jobs.

Previously I mentioned that you should keep in mind all the bills you need to pay or even the fun things you do on a regular basis that require money being spent. Employers like applicants who have a reason to work. People with bills to pay, money needs or goals of independence are people who will come to work on time and with an attitude that says they want to earn their paycheck. A less than qualified person who will work hard and is ready to learn would be a better employee than an overqualified person who just needs a job.

If you tell your interviewer that you need this job and are prepared to work hard and earn your money, they will most likely respect your ambition and determination. I can’t guarantee you a job with these practices, but it stands to reason that employers want hard working people that won’t be difficult to manage. A student who truly needs the money will work for it.

First impressions are important pieces of a social relationship, but they can sometimes be the determining factor in an employment opportunity. Don’t risk a job over an avoidable mistake or failure to prepare. Make sure that the impression you leave with your interviewer is one that tells them that you are not only qualified and capable for the position, but that you are ready and prepared to do the ob well and with enthusiasm.

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Photo courtesy of glassdoor.com

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