Interviewing techniques learned

Karalee Manis, Managing Editor

The latest AT&T Lunch & Learn, Interviewing Strategies, was held on Friday, March 18 in the 1862 Lounge. Jodie Baus, director of human resources at The Osthoff Resort, presented Lakeland students with the valuable tips for the interview process.

Baus first spoke to students about the importance of first impressions. When it comes to seeking employment, this first impression occurs through one’s résumé and cover letter.

“You want to stand out,” said Baus, “and that’s a big deal.”

Applicants should make sure that all the information on their résumés and cover letters has no spelling or grammar mistakes. Baus added to “Make sure you’re fulfilling what their asking” for on those documents in terms of qualifying tasks or requested information.

Another prep item concerning the first impression has to do with the call you hope to receive based on your résumé. Regarding this, an applicant will want to make sure they have an appropriate voicemail message in the event they cannot answer the phone when they get the call.

Baus suggests, “Call yourself on your voicemail” and listen to the message to make sure it is professional.

For any position for which one is applying, research should be done. Baus said that, before you talk to anyone at the prospective company in a phone interview, you should know the position description for which you are applying.

Prior to and in anticipation of this call, you should also know: the company, the products or services sold by the company, who the customers and competitors are, how the company is doing in its industry, and what the company culture is like.

Baus also stressed the importance of knowing with who you are meeting, regardless of the fact that this stage the interview is via phone.

Next Baus discussed preparing for the face-to-face interview. Before you even get there, there are things an interviewee should do involving situational knowledge, such as knowing how to get to the location of the company, knowing where within the company you need to go and knowing the name and contact information of the person interviewing you.

Additional pre-interview prep involves mental preparation, which includes knowing about the company, knowing clearly what the job description entails and knowing your résumé and job history so that you can easily discuss any such information during the interview.

The next area of preparation concerns your physical self. An interviewee should always have a copy of his or her résumé on hand. Additionally, it is important to dress professionally, to arrive early, to smile, to be energetic and to be relaxed.

The final area of preparation should be in written preparation. As an interviewee, you should think of a list of questions you might get asked and then prepare notes on your responses. Baus said this written preparation is where you can best practice articulating your responses.

Baus then talked to the students about the types of interviews they may encounter, including: informational, traditional, group, multiple, telephone and behavioral-based.

The interview, or interview process as it typically turns out to be, is all about seeing if both the candidate and the company fit together, explained Baus. That is why, going into an interview, it is a good idea to have a prepared list of questions for you to ask the employer, as well.

Questions to ask about job duties and the company, as listed on the handout given during the presentation, include:

  • What is the primary goal or responsibilities of this position in the first year?
  • What is a typical day like for someone in this position?
  • With whom will I work in this position?
  • How are my job duties and priorities established?
  • What resources will I have access to that will help me perform my job duties?
  • How and when does an employee have the chance for advancement?
  • What is the company’s perspective on employee development and training?
  • How and when will my performance be evaluated?
  • How does this position fit into the company as a whole?
  • How does this position support the company’s goals or mission?

All these questions and the interview process are to further assess the fit of employee, employer and the culture of the company. “Culture’s important to us,” said Baus.

Other aspects of the interview that Baus discussed included dress. This comprises appropriate attire and hygiene. You should make sure you don’t have excessive piercings or tattoos showing, as well, during the interview process.

The next area of focus included what to bring to the interview. Items included padfolio, questions, a good pen, extra copies of your résumé, references and a planning calendar. This last one may be contained on your phone, which is okay, but Baus emphasized to keep your phone put away during the interview until it is needed.

“Do not keep (your phone) on buzz,” said Baus; keep it on silent.

Discussing bad phone etiquette rolled into the next topic of what not to do in an interview. Such things included: being late; lying about experiences; discussing salary or benefits; discussing politics, religion or health care; using slang or swearing; bringing friends or family with you into the building to wait; wearing too much jewelry or perfume/cologne; and leaving your cell phone on.

Baus emphasized that you need to be realistic: “Know what you’re worth – know you’re fresh out of school,” said Baus, concerning areas of salary.

Baus next talked about proper business etiquette, showing a slide full of useful information like being on time, thanking the interviewer at the start and end of the interview, shaking hands with everyone, sitting only after being asked to, not asking for a refreshment, but you can accept if offered and keeping a positive attitude at all times.

The next set of tips was for answering questions during the interview. A few of the points included: asking for clarification, if needed; staying true to your message on why the company should hire you; always answering questions with your audience in mind; avoiding topics that may get you in trouble, like about your personal life or beliefs; use clear and concise language when speaking; and ask for feedback.

Once the interview is over, Baus said it is always a good idea to send a thank-you note to everyone with whom you interviewed. This can be a few short sentences thanking the person for their time and can include some personal detail showing them that you took the time to remember them. Who knows, that thank you note may make you stand out, too.

For more detailed information about this presentation, see the slides in the gallery.

The next AT&T Lunch & Learn, Salary Negotiation & Benefit Basics, is scheduled for Thursday, April 7 at 11:30 a.m. in the 1862 Lounge.

For more information on Lunch & Learns, visit Career Connect or contact a Student Success and Engagement Coach.

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