After noticing a thin layer of dust accumulating on the inside of my wallet, I took the hint- it’s time to come out of library hibernation and earn some money. Having only had the experience of the usual camp counselor and babysitting job under my belt, I came to the conclusion that I needed to pursue employment in the real world. Over the past two months, I’ve sent out my sparse, yet hopeful, resume out to countless deserving establishments within the local Burlington area. Finally, three weeks ago I was asked to go in for an interview. Having already been turned down once for a different job, I knew I needed to put all of my effort and determination into this next opportunity.
I sat down with UVM Career Services counselor Lisa Torchiano to help better prepare you for your next interview with these great tips!
What should I wear?
It really depends on the atmosphere of the job. For example, you would probably wear a different outfit to an interview for Ben & Jerry’s than you would for an internship. Lisa says, “As a rule of thumb, dress professionally and keep conservative. If you’re questioning something, don’t wear it.” Try a nice pair of dress pants and a button down shirt with flats, or a shift dress with a blazer and a sensible pair of heels. If the interview is casual, you could wear corduroy pants and a cute sweater.
What types of interviews are there?
Make sure you’re in an area where you know you won’t be distracted and your call won’t be dropped if you are using a cell phone. Also, bring a pen and paper to write down any notes and have your resume in front of you to remind you of details about accomplishments.
I was asked to go into a group interview and had no idea what that meant. I was interviewed in a small group of other applicants, which I now know is called a screening interview. A business will tend to have these types of interviews to start out the process if there is a large number of applicants and they need to sort out who they’re most interested in. If you find yourself in this kind of interview, make sure you stand out! You want to make sure the interviewer remembers you, so answer all the questions as best you can and also interact with the other applicants.
This is the type of interview most people have in mind. Keep eye contact with the interviewer and smile! Research the business beforehand and try and work in your background knowledge to show your interest. Come up with a list of anticipated questions beforehand and answer then ahead of time so you have an idea of what you’re going to say. At the end, he/she will probably ask if you have any questions for them. You should always have a question or two ready to ask them. A great one would be- What is the next step in this process?
This type of interview is very different from the others because it’s one you set up yourself with the company you’re interested in to obtain more information. Think about it like this- you’re the one interviewing them. You can ask questions such as, “What is the culture of this organization? Is the environment formal or informal, structured or flexible?” or “What qualifications do you expect the successful candidate to have?” Make sure you come prepared with having done some research on the company so you can ask more specific questions as well. Lisa even says these interviews are a fantastic way to network with people working in your desired career.
What kinds of questions are usually asked? How should I answer them?
Tell me about yourself.
I guarantee you will be asked this question. It’s such a broad question that it can be easy to ramble. Start with your education then move into your work experience. The interviewer isn’t looking for you life story, so make sure to keep it short and to the point.
What would you say a weakness of yours is?
This one can be difficult to answer. Take a weakness you have and try and spin it in a positive light. For example: Sometimes I find it difficult to make time to relax. My desire for perfection can often leave me flustered, but I’ve learned over the years different ways to handle this stress such as taking things one at a time… etc.
If you have any questions about interviews or just want the practice, contact UVM’s Career Services or check out their great online resources on their website.