Ohio University Office of Career Services


Interview Bloopers & How to Avoid Them by Christy R

Interview Bloopers & How to Avoid Them

The ability to write a great résumé or cover letter may help you land an interview, but that’s not all it takes to get the job. An outstanding résumé can get you in to meet with your potential employer but once you’re sitting across from them in the interview you will have to start over in order to prove that you are the best candidate.

Most interview bloopers occur because of the lack of practice and preparation. Of course even if you are well prepared, the interview may not go perfectly–we all make mistakes. However, the following mistakes can easily be avoided by developing strong interviewing skills and preparing properly for the interview.

Weak communication skills.
Non-verbal communication plays a crucial role throughout the interview. A poor handshake may weaken your chances of getting hired from the very beginning. Also remember to make eye contact, avoid fidgeting and looking at your watch. Be aware of your body language–it may not be obvious to you but the interviewer will easily notice it.

Poor verbal communication skills will almost certainly decrease your chances of getting hired. Giving a long, rambling answer to a simple question demonstrates an inability to concentrate and process relevant information. Avoid using any slang–stay professional no matter what. Listening skills are also vital: don’t spend so much time thinking about your answer that you’re not paying attention to the question.

Failing to research the company.
Be prepared to demonstrate an awareness of the company and the position for which you are applying. It’s going to be obvious that you did not do your research if you ask the interviewer to tell you more about the position or what the company does. Read the job description. Check out the company website. Know the organization. On the other hand, don’t go overboard with your knowledge. When you know something about the company, wait for the right moment to share it. Do not interrupt the interviewer to tell them you already know the information. Wait until they have finished and then add a comment to what they just shared.

Dressing inappropriately.
When in doubt, err on the side of too formal. It is unlikely that there will be a good reason to show up for the interview casually dressed. Every company has its own dress policy, and it is a good practice to dress one level above what is acceptable for company.

Being late or too early.
Never be late. Develop a habit of being on time. It’s also important not to turn up too early because it creates the impression of having too much time on your hands and being desperate for the job. Five to ten minutes early is a good rule of thumb.

Being negative.
It’s important to have the right attitude during an interview. Never complain about your current job and stay enthusiastic throughout the interview. Be careful to treat everyone you meet with courtesy, including the receptionist. Many companies watch to see how you treat their staff. It gives them an indication of how well you might fit in to the company.

Asking inappropriate questions.
At the end of the interview always take the opportunity to ask questions. By paying attention during the interview, you will ensure that you don’t ask about something that was already discussed. Take some time before the interview to think about the position, what it involves and what kind of information you need to know to learn more about it. Have several questions prepared before you go into the interview. Avoid asking questions about salary and benefits during the initial interview. These are only appropriate once you have been offered the job.

Failing to follow up.
Be persistent. Send an email and thank you note after the interview, thanking the interviewer for their time. By following up and letting the employer know that you are still interested, you will increase your chances of getting a job.

Remember, preparation and practice are key. The Office of Career Services provides you with assistance when preparing for an interview. You can find general information about interviews on our website.

The Mock Interview Program can also help you sharpen your interviewing skills. Visit our website for more information.

Make sure to check out our On Demand Presentations for additional information on Behavioral Interviews or Phone Interviews.

Get ready and the best of luck on your interview!

—Written by Anna Morlang, CareerCATS Coordinator for the Office of Career Services

References
Quintessential Careers
The Time of India
Career Alley

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Dressing the Part: What Your Work Wardrobe Says About You by Christy R

Dressing the Part: What Your
Work Wardrobe Says About You

Dressing properly for work assures credibility and helps to develop a professional relationship with colleagues and clients. Today many companies have adopted business casual attire and let go of some of the more conservative ways of dressing. Problems arise because the concept of business casual is not clearly defined and depends on the company’s dress policy and its corporate culture. Since few companies adopt clear written guidelines regarding business casual attire it is really important to learn the company culture and understand the expectations.

In the traditional business environment, for example, the existing culture expects you to stick to the classical business suit. It is crucial to establish reliability and a good reputation when you work in professions such as banking, finance or accounting. Choose a simple pattern or dark colors and try to change your professional business attire a single item at a time. Think of your dress as something that speaks for you and the way you do business. If the environment you work in is physically demanding, the internal culture there allows you to go with comfortable and easy-to-clean attire, but make sure that your clothes look smart and fit well. When interviewing with a company whose dress code or corporate culture you are not really familiar with, a business professional, traditional suit will be the perfect choice. Once you get hired and learn what the expectations and internal rules are you can adjust your style accordingly.

While it is important to know and understand your specific company’s environment, there are some basic rules that work for any situation or work environment.

Don’t get too casual. The fact that your company has a business casual dress code does not mean that you can get away with inappropriate outfits. Remember where you are and that you represent the company you work for. People won’t take you seriously if you can’t take the time to dress appropriately for the situation. Do a simple “Friday night” test: if you would pick a specific item to wear out to a weekend party, it probably doesn’t belong in the office.

Be professional in your choice of clothing. A short skirt is not a good choice for women to wear in the office environment. Short socks that expose legs are taboo for men. Avoid using bright colors in your outfit; it does not usually look professional. An option here would be adding an accessory that is an unusual color and goes along with the rest of the attire; however, that should be as far as it goes.  The foundational rule for wearing jewelry in a business environment is not to overdo it.

Summer Business Dress. Remember not to abandon your regular business attire when it gets warm outside. Sleeveless tops are very tempting in the summer time, but are usually not appropriate for a business situation. If you do happen to wear one, be sure that you have a jacket to put on when the situation requires. Women can try putting up their hair to stay cool and look sophisticated at the same time.

The Bottom Line. Every time you choose what to wear, think about the message that you want to send with your appearance. Keep in mind that you represent yourself and your organization. Carefully built credibility and reputation can be damaged very quickly by an inappropriate choice of clothing. By following some basic rules and learning the corporate culture of the company will guarantee you a professional look!

For more valuable information on professional dress, view our handout on Dressing Professionally in our Handout Library.

—Written by Anna Morlang, CareerCATS Coordinator for the Office of Career Services

Sources:
www.theworkbuzz.com
www.fashionforrealwomen.com
www.westsidetoastmasters.com



Be Smart. Be Civil. Be Safe. BE EMPLOYED! by erinnunn

Be Smart.
Be Civil.
Be Safe.
BE EMPLOYED!

Though spring weather has not quite arrived, Spring Quarter in Athens sure has. With the first fest weekend now behind us and many more upcoming, it’s important to think about partying smart. The new campaign launched this quarter encourages students to do just that— Be Smart. Be Civil. Be Safe— reminding students that inappropriate party behavior stays on every social media and internet site.

We talk a lot to students about creating a professional online presence, such as getting connected on LinkedIn and keeping status updates and tweets professional. So if statistics about last year’s fest arrests and suspensions don’t get you to think twice about partying smart, civil, and safely, consider how it will affect your job and internship prospects in an already tight market. An employer will think twice about hiring a student whose first link on a Google search is an article discussing their pending court case due to rioting, a picture dancing around a couch fire, or a quote about partying strong since 8 am.

Be Smart. Be Civil. Be Safe. It just makes a whole lot more sense.

—Written by Erin Nunn, Office of Career Services Interim Assistant Director



Professionalism In the Workplace for New College Grads by Christy R

Professionalism in the Workplace for New College Grads


New college grads need to start putting workplace professionalism higher on their list of priorities as they seek jobs, employers say, according to a recent poll conducted by York College of Pennsylvania’s Center for Professional Excellence. The 2010 Professionalism in the Workplace Poll discovered eight specific areas in which employers have found new grads lacking:

  • Accepting personal responsibility for decisions and actions.
  • Being open to criticism.
  • Displaying a sense of ethics.
  • Being competent in verbal and written communication.
  • Taking initiative.
  • Projecting a professional image.
  • Thinking independently.
  • Demonstrating passion for their work.

The first two traits (accepting personal responsibility and being open to criticism) are the ones listed as needing the most improvement. Information Technology etiquette is another area in which employers are noticing less-than-desirable habits. The growing trend among students to surf the internet, text message, and respond to cell phone calls during class is translating into the work world in ways that employers find unprofessional.

Professionalism in the workplace is not limited to corporate jobs or specific professions (business, healthcare, law, etc.). In answer to the question, “Are all positions considered capable of exhibiting professionalism?” the majority of respondents indicated that they think of professionalism “as being related to the person rather than the position. Anyone in any position has the potential to exhibit professional traits and behavior.”

As you seek to project a professional image, keep in mind the following traits which were mentioned most often as characteristics of the professional employee:

  • Personal interaction skills (includes courtesy and respect).
  • Ability to communicate (includes listening skills).
  • Work ethic (includes being motivated and working on a task until complete).
  • Personal appearance.
  • Self-confidence and self-awareness.



Prepare For Success: What you need to know in order to interact successfully with employers at the career fair by Christy R

You’re standing outside the door of the career fair ready to enter. You’ve printed your résumé, researched the employers, donned your business attire, and drawn up a list of what you need to accomplish in the next couple of hours. Now it is time to put your plan of action into effect. A few tips should help you interact professionally with the employers you’re about to meet.

1. Make a good first impression.
You will most likely have only a short while to speak with each recruiter, so you must make every minute count. The first impression you make will go a long way. In order to accomplish this, just
remember these four things:

  • Eye-contact. Show that you are confident and at ease.
  • Firm handshake. Don’t offer a limp hand, but don’t crush any bones either.
  • Relaxed smile. Be friendly, but avoid gushing with too much enthusiasm.
  • Elevator speech. (See previous post on how to prepare one.) Introduce yourself in a strong, clear, natural voice, at the same time being careful not to shout.

2. Ask questions.
This goes hand-in-hand with doing your research before going to the fair. Employers are impressed when you already have a basic understanding of the company and can ask intelligent questions.

3. Don’t treat the fair as a social event.
It can be easy to become too relaxed and start sharing aspects of your personal life that are not appropriate for this professional environment. Always keep in mind that you are being evaluated on your potential to perform in the workplace.

4. Get contact information.
Most recruiters will either give you their business card or have some out on a table. If you don’t see any, be sure to ask them for their specific title, name (spelled correctly!), and contact information, both phone and email.

5. Follow up.
The very last question you should ask each recruiter is “What is the next step?” Find out which method of follow-up the recruiter prefers, phone or email. Ask them when you can expect to hear from them again, or when they would like you to contact them. Is there anything else they need from you (work samples, portfolio, etc.)? Also be sure to thank the recruiter for their time before you leave.

6. Take Notes.
You can write down key information during the interview if you like, just don’t spend the entire meeting scribbling furiously. That’s why it might be a better idea to take a moment AFTER the meeting to jot down some notes about your conversation. These reminders will be helpful in the follow-up process.

7. Network.
Your most important job at the fair is to network with employers, but don’t forget to network with other job-seekers as well. This way you can share support, company information, and job leads with one another.



Prepare For Success: What you can do beforehand to make the most of your career fair experience by Christy R

Business men and womenWhen planning to attend a career or job fair, a little preparation is necessary to maximize your experience and give you the best results. You’re already taking the time to go to the fair, so you might as well go the full mile and make it worth your effort by following these simple steps.

1. Identify and Research the Prospective Employers.
Obtain the list of organizations attending the fair and identify the prospective employers that most interest you by clicking on the Fall Career & Internship Fair link on the homepage of Bobcat CareerLink. Keep an open mind when making this list. Don’t discount employers based on industry. You don’t necessarily need to be a business major to work for a large business company or a retail merchandising major to work for a department store. Instead, see what kinds of jobs each company has available, and what types of majors they are recruiting.

Once you’ve made your list of 5-10 employers you want to meet at the fair, do some research on each one of them. Visit their websites. Run internet searches. Be sure to familiarize yourselves with key products/services as well as the organizational structure, culture and values of the company.

2. Rehearse your elevator speech.
Prepare a 20-30 second introduction to use with employers. Have a clear focus on why you are here and what kind of job you are looking for. Tell them why you are interested in their company and how your specific skill set will benefit their company. (For examples of a concise elevator speech, see earlier post: Elevator Speech: A 30-second Interview).

3. Prepare résumés.
Have multiple copies of your résumé printed out and ready to go. It’s also helpful to have them organized neatly in a folder or portfolio. Show them that you can be an organized employee.

4. Choose proper career fair attire.
This is a must. For most career fairs professional attire is required, consisting of a clean-cut, well-fitting, conservative look, with darker colors such as navy, black, and slate. Dressing unprofessionally is one of the most common errors made by job candidates. If the outfit you’re considering is something you would wear to a party or a night on the town, it is most likely not appropriate professional attire. It is always safer to err on the side of dressing too conservatively. Also remember to give your shoes a little polish, and don’t overdo on jewelry or perfume/cologne.