Polishing interview skills

Beth Hyatt
Copy Editor

Since the job hunt is about to begin for soon-to-be graduates, it is important to be prepared for what lies ahead.
While sending in the application is the first step to finding a job, the next step can be even more important: the interview. If you impress the employer enough to get an interview, you must make sure that it goes as well as possible.
When getting ready to meet a possible employer, the first thing to remember is to dress professionally.
“Going with a suit is always a good call when it’s a career-oriented job,” said Lauren Cole, coordinator of Career Services.
According to Cole, it is recommended to dress a few steps above what you are expecting.
For the men, a coat, tie and khakis would be acceptable if a formal suit is not a part of your wardrobe. For the women, there are a few more guidelines.
Ladies, you want to look your best while feeling confident, and you can’t do that if your outfit is too tight or too big or if your shoes are too high. Avoid heels that are difficult to walk in, dresses and skirts that show too much skin, and ill-fitting outfits in general. You want to show your employer that you are the best candidate for the job.
While it is important not to lose your own personal style, it is also recommended to put your best foot forward.
“The interview is the day to be your most conservative self. It’s not that the employer is judging you, it’s just what’s expected in an interview situation,” Cole said.
It is suggested that tattoos be covered, excessive piercings be removed and hair be styled professionally. Remember that the company you apply for has its own idea of what is professional and acceptable. If your views do not match up, it could potentially cost you the job.
Personality is another factor that comes into play during an interview. It is a good idea to act professionally, but do not put on a show. You want to be up front and honest about who you are and what you can offer the company while doing so in an official manner.
Cole offered some advice to students going into job interviews. “
This is your one opportunity to really wow them and make a first impression,” she said. “And they really see your personality for the first time.”
Cole said that interviews are equally as important as resumes because they show employers what a paper is not able to convey. In an interview, you are able to say much more about yourself and are able to really sell yourself and what you can do.
Make sure to research the company you plan to work for before going into the interview. Know what it stands for, what it condones and how you would fit into its association. Once in the interview, you can talk more about your skills and how they would meet the job requirements.
Samantha Loff, a graduate post-secondary education Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages major from Dothan, has been through the interview process herself.
“I can say nothing other than to be your best self,” she said. “Show them who you really are, and show them where you want to be. Let the company know that you are interested in growing and that you think they would be a wonderful place to start.”
Loff reminds students to stay confident while in the interview. “Remember, if you’ve gotten to the interview stage, something looked great on your resume. Keep putting it out there, even if you are discouraged.”
Many students are unaware of what goes on in an interview because they have never participated in one. Before attending an interview, it is important to know what to do, what to say and what to wear. All of these questions and more can be answered by the office of Career Services, which is designed with student success in mind and they encourage students to take advantage of the mock interviews that are offered.
Camri Martin-Bowen, a freshman nursing major from Wetumpka, recently participated in a mock interview with Career Services.
“It helped me to know what to expect in an interview,” she said. “It’ll help anyone, especially if they have never had an interview, because it will calm you down before you go to the real thing.”
Erica Rousseau, area coordinator for Housing and Residence Life, is well acquainted with the process of hiring employees. Her office is currently holding interviews for new resident assistants.
When asked about whether or not personal appearances such as radical hairstyles, tattoos and piercings deterred her in the hiring process, she had this to say: “The way that you carry yourself says a lot about your self-confidence. I understand that college is a time for exploration and self-discovery. So, I don’t see that so much as a hindrance. I’m more concerned with their character and work ethic.”
Rousseau said that she believes that interviews and resumes are important, but that they are not the most important aspect of a candidate. Being able to interact with potential employees outside of the work environment gives her the opportunity to learn more about them personally.
“When you see how someone lives – what their behaviors are with their roommates, their RA, and their daily routines – that gives you a different level of understanding on how they are going to perform,” she said.

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