Securing a job in today's job market is highly competitive. Employers are seeking the best qualified candidates for their limited number of openings. But being the best qualified is not enough. You must also have the skills and ability to communicate effectively with the employer.
The job interview is the means by which you, the job applicant, and the employer come together to determine common interests. Outside of special events and employer presentations it is also (usually) the first time you come into direct contact with each other. An employer has two basic aims in the interview: to get the right person for the job and to get a person who can contribute something to the organization's goals. Consequently, there is no "tomorrow." Either you convince the employer that you not only have the potential and abilities required of the job and are personally the best selection - or you do not.
The information presented herein is designed to help you prepare for the Job Interview process.
- The Career Management Office sponsors a campus recruiting program that brings students and employers together. This is the easiest, but not the only, way to set up interviews.
- Through using guides like Standard and Poors and The College Placement Annual, you can identify and contact employers. If your credentials are strong, you might get an interview. This is the most used, but statistically the least effective way of generating interviews.
- Your friends, parents and relatives are often helpful in providing job leads that produce interviews. Developing a network of friends/relatives and their contacts is the most effective job search method.
- The Career Management Office receives several hundred job listings a year. These are all current openings for which the employers are seeking Tulane graduates.
- The State Bureau of Employment services by law must list job openings for all companies that do at least $80,000 business with the federal government. The employment service is a free job placement agency, and a source of job leads which can lead to interviews.
- There are many loony ways - dropping your resume from a helicopter over Wall Street, renting billboards, wearing a sandwich board with your resume on it - that are guaranteed to get attention. These tactics rarely lead to a job, however.
- What job do you want?
- Why should she/he hire you?
- What can you do for the organization?
- What will it cost? (Salary)
- Show you understand the needs of the employer and desire to work for the organization.
- Demonstrate your skills, motivation, interests and capabilities.
- Identify traits that the employer seeks; indicate that you possess those qualities.
- Sell yourself; communicate clearly why you are qualified for the position.
- Determine if there is a match between you and the organization, and you and the job.
- Give me an example of a time at work when you had to deal with unreasonable expectations of you. What parts of your behavior were mature and immature? Please be specific.
- Give me an example of a time when you had to be assertive in giving directions to others.
- Describe a time when you had to sell an idea to your boss, authority figure, or technical expert.
Did you know that you'll spend two-thirds (90,000 hours) of your adult life on the job? Further, in some surveys, up to 80% of the respondents have indicated dissatisfaction with their jobs. The key to a good match for you on both the job and the employer is a productive interview. The dual purpose of the interview is to have the employer see your uniqueness and for you to evaluate the employer. The interview is crucial - your satisfaction during 90,000 hours of your adult life may well ride on this one session.Return to Top of Page
Effective job hunters use several methods to set up interviews. Some ways of generating interviews are:
Basically, the recruiter is seeking to discover the answers to four questions in the interview:
Your agenda, however, may be quite different. With proper preparation, you can guide the interview so the recruiter is favorably impressed and you can also fulfill your needs for information about the position and firm. You should expect to do 85% of the talking. Your responses to questions will fall into two categories: evaluation and description. As much as possible, include evaluative information on each of your experiences that demonstrates the results you achieved.
There are two principal types of interviews: The initial (screening) interview and the depth (evaluation) interview. They vary in length and intensity, but the structure is very similar. The purpose of the screening interview is to determine if you have the minimum qualifications for the job, and may even be done by phone. The depth interview explores the relevance of your background to the job; an appraisal of your personality, motivation and character; and an evaluation of your mental ability.
Both interviews consist of four segments - introduction, background, employer sell, and closing. The content of each stage is described below:
1. Introduction: The interviewer will probably start off with small talk to put you at ease. Your dress, smile, handshake, and the way you sit will make a distinct impact on the employer. She or he will make a preliminary decision about hiring you during the first two minutes of the interview. Further, there is a strong positive correlation between the impression in the first four minutes and the hiring decision made after a thirty or sixty minute interview. However, do try to be yourself and relax!
Some behavioral tips for this portion of the interview are: Offer the interviewer a firm handshake, don't smoke, don't call the interviewer by his or her first name unless asked, establish eye contact, smile, listen attentively, speak clearly, avoid remarks with negative overtones, and let the recruiter set the atmosphere.
2. Background:During this phase, the interviewer is testing your ability to handle yourself. Usually a question-and-answer format is followed. However, don't just provide answers - make comments, elaborate on obvious "yes-no" questions, clarify points, and ask questions of your own. If you don't know the answer to a question, say so. If you try to "bull" the interviewer, it will be obvious. During this phase of the interview, you will want to:
One of the best ways to insure that you will present yourself in the best possible manner during interviews is to choose three to five experiences from your resume that you believe best demonstrate why you should be hired. They should be chosen because they represent skills that, based on your research, the employer seeks. If you are not questioned about all by the interviewer, be sure to point them out!
3. Employer "Sell": Now that you have passed the employer's initial screening, you will get the pitch about the organization. In general, the interviewer will gauge how your career interests fit the needs of the organization, while also "selling" you on the employer.
It is extremely important, therefore, to have researched the organization. It is also imperative to know your own long- and short-range career plans. The interviewer is concerned with the match between you and the organization both now and in the long run (5, 10 and 25 years from now). (This is not the time to discuss your plans for future study or starting a business.)
Be sure to ask questions that indicate you have researched the organization. Often in campus interviews, recruiters will test your preparation by asking a question that was answered in the literature available in the Career Management Office. Knowledge of the organization can be the final deciding factor in the interview, so study up!
4. Closing: In the closing, the recruiter will indicate how the organization will follow up (letter, phone, etc.) and how long it will take. This is your final opportunity for making your "sales pitch" and posing any unanswered questions. Be certain to provide a summary of your qualifications for the position and say that you want the job!Return to Top of Page
There are four major interview types: Screening, decision, structured, and unstructured. A screening interview usually works off of a general job description and is looking for a reasonable match for a particular position. Decision interviews focus on trying to find out: 1) Can you do the job?; 2) Will you do the job?; and 3) Will You fit into the organization? Large companies with standardized hiring procedures tend to use the structured format because it has a specific set of questions and results, in uniform interviews. In structured interviews, the interviewer is typically looking for specific skill sets. The unstructured interview is the opposite, with little consistency of content from candidate to candidate. It tends to be more conversational while working off of the resume and includes general questions and answers.
The mode of the interview can be one-on-one, board/panel, group, stress, behavioral, or case. The one-on-one interview is the most common, and used most often in screening interviews. Both panel and group interviews are more common during the site visit.
The group interview is often a discussion of an issue or problem. However, the purpose of the group interview is to evaluate how applicants interact with each other. Most groups tend to stratify, with a natural leader emerging. Other roles are conciliators, synthesizers and problem solvers. It is important to assume one of these roles in group interview.
The board interview, involving a group of interviewers talking to one candidate is the most difficult type. Try to concentrate your efforts on addressing the question at hand and responding to the individual who asked it. If you can link your response to one that you have previously given, do so. If at all possible, get the panel members talking among themselves about your responses.
As the name suggests, stress interviews are used primarily by interviewers when the job they are trying to fill involves an individual to perform under an extreme amount of stress. This interviewing style, when used, is typically found in the sales/marketing arenas. The candidate may have to wait a considerable amount of time for the interview to start, rapport may not be built, the interviewer may not be friendly during the interview. This interviewing style is used to assess an individuals ability to deal with unexpected as well as expected stressful situations.
For example, a sales candidate came into a "final" interview with the VP of Sales with a verbal offer already made and the impression that this stage was just a formality. Instead of talking about the various aspects of the job offer, the VP informed the candidate that the company had changed it's mind and would not need his services after all. What the VP really wanted to see was how this individual could "sell" himself after he was initially rejected. Could he convince the VP that the company needed his services and he was the "best" person for the job. From the company's standpoint, a good sales person won't just take no for an answer. They need to convince a potential customer that they "need" the company's product. This was a test to see how the candidate would react in this type of situation.
The above is just one type of stress interview. Styles vary amongst industries, companies, interviewers and positions.
The basic thrust behind behavioral interviewing is: past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. What have you done as opposed to what would you do. In this type of interviewing, the interviewer will ask questions relating to a specific skill that will require the candidate to reflect on past events to answer the question. Interviewers are looking for specifics (times, dates, locations, names, etc.). There are no right or wrong answers to these questions since you are pulling from events in your past. Be honest and truthful when answering these questions. A skilled interviewer most likely will be able to tell if an answer is not truthful or they are being "snowed." Also, be prepared to reflect on past events and identify, in hindsight, what you would have done differently in a particular situation. Some examples of behavioral interviewing questions are:
Companies will choose questions in areas critical to a particular type of position. Most companies use some sort of behavioral interviewing.
Case interviews are typically used by consulting firms and financial banking. This type of interviewing involves presenting a "problem" or "case study" to an applicant. Some companies are looking for "right" answers (financial models, knowledge of the industry, competitors, challenges, etc.) others are looking for the process a candidate will use to come to a conclusion to a problem.
For example, a candidate was asked: "How many tires are there in the United States?" The answer is: who knows!! And who cares!!! However, the interviewer wanted the candidate to explain to him how he came up with an answer. What were the thought processes? What angles were analyzed? Many projects employees are assigned in the workplace are ambiguous and require strong analytical skills. This type of interviewing attempts to assess that skill.
The one thing to remember when interviewing is to be yourself. The majority of the time there isn't a "right" answer. Interviewers are looking for energetic, knowledgeable, motivated individuals to help their company achieve it's goals. Have confidence in yourself!! If you don't, it usually will be blatant to the interviewer. Spend some time identifying the significant accomplishments and "challenges" you have experienced both in the workplace and at school and be able to clearly articulate them. Identify your strengths and developmental areas (no matter what we may think, none of us are perfect).Return to Top of Page
There are three types of questions. They are open-ended, closed-ended, and probing.
The open-ended question gets you talking. It is broad, but comprehensive. It is important to have a structure to your response - a beginning, a body, and a close (summary). Unless you are encouraged by the interviewer, don't make your response longer than two to three minutes.
The closed-ended question seeks specific facts. The response is usually short and to the point. If it is to your advantage, offer to elaborate on the experience you're discussing.
The probing question supplements or cross checks information. Recruiters have ways of checking the internal consistency of your responses during the interview. DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT LYING OR EMBELLISHING. (You will get caught!)Return to Top of Page
The most difficult question for students to handle is also the most frequently asked open-ended question. It is, "Tell me about yourself." In most cases, the recruiter is not looking for a "pat" answer, but seeks information on you and how you handle yourself in an ambiguous situation. You may want to briefly discuss your education, work experiences, and aspirations. Have a definite structure and point to your response. Don't talk for more than two minutes without "checking back" with the interviewer.Return to Top of Page
- What are your long-range and short-range goals and objectives, both personal and professional; when and why did you establish these goals and how are you preparing yourself to achieve them?
- What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
- What do you really want to do with your life?
- What are the most important rewards you expect in your career?
- What do you expect to earn after graduation? After five years?
- Why did you choose the career for which you are preparing? How did you choose it?
- Which is more important to you, pay or type of job held?
- What do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
- How would you describe yourself?
- What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
- How has your college experience prepared you for a career?
- Why should I hire you?
- What qualifications do you have that will make you successful in the field?
- How do you determine or evaluate success?
- What do you think it takes to be successful in an organization like ours?
- What contributions can you make to our organization?
- What accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? Why?
- Describe your most rewarding college experience.
- If you were hiring someone for this position, what qualities would you look for?
- Why did you select your college or university?
- Why did you choose your major field of study?
- What college subjects did you like best? Why?
- What college subjects did you like least? Why?
- If you could do so, would you plan your academic study differently? How?
- What changes would you make in your college or university? Why?
- Do you have plans for continued study? An advanced degree? Why?
- Do you think that your grades are a good indication of your academic achievement?
- What have you learned from participation in extracurricular activities?
- In what kind of work (people) environment are you most comfortable?
- How do you work under pressure?
- In which part-time or summer jobs have you been most interested? Why?
- What are your ideal job specifications?
- Why did you decide to seek a position with this firm?
- What do you know about our organization?
- What things are most important to you in your job?
- Are you seeking employment in an organization of a certain size? Why?
- What criteria are you using to evaluate the organization for which you hope to work?
- Do you have a geographical preference? Why?
- Will you relocate? Does relocation bother you?
- Are you willing to travel?
- Are you willing to spend at least six months as a trainee?
- Why do you think you might like to live in a community in which our organization is located?
- What have you learned from your mistakes?
- What are your skills?
- Talk about a situation where you had to deal with someone who did not want to do what you told them to do or did not want to cooperate.
- Talk about a situation where you had to deal with someone who was going behind your back.
- Talk about a situation where you had to convince someone or get someone to see your point of view.
- Talk about a situation where you took the initiative and did something productive with an otherwise unfruitful situation.
- Give me an example of when you had to sell an idea to somebody.
- Give me an example of when you persuaded your boss to do something he had been unwilling to do.
- Give me an example of when your creativity helped your company in solving a problem.
- Give me an example of when you redesigned a work process which improved the process efficiency.
- Describe a situation in which you were ask to bend the rules, and how you handled it.
- Describe a time when you were in a fluid, ambiguous situation... and failed.
- Tell me about a time when you had a major disagreement with your boss and how you handled the situation.
- Tell me about a time when you had to persuade others to follow your plan of action.
- How do you persuade a person to take an action?
- Describe a team project in which you demonstrated your ability to interact with team-members and your contribution to the project.
- What would you do if you were in a situation that your supervisor gives you an urgent task while you are working at another project with an approaching deadline?
- What do you think are the most important factors when...company...plans to expand into a new market?
- If you were the general manager of a company and the company had to make a rapid change, how would you approach this?
- Have you had a poor contribution from a group member? How did you handle it?
- What is your salary requirement for the quantitative marketing analysis position?
- What type of salary do you want?
- What would be your ideal company to work for?
- Why did you choose to attend Tulane? - The most frequently asked question - (The student suggested that the answer the interviewer was looking for, was one where you have shown that you researched a bunch of schools, narrowed down the list to a few, and ultimately decided to attend Tulane for some good reason.)
- Tell me about Tulane, I don't know much about it. (From a company that recruited at Tulane, it was a big surprise...)
- Where do you think Tulane is weakest?
- If you had to change something in your past, what would you change?
- What do you regret in your life?
- What do I have to know about you that I can not figure out from your resume?
- I am interviewing 50 candidates from the top 10 business schools, why should I spend time with you?
- If you had $1 million, what business would you invest it in and why?
- Now, if you had $100 million, what business would you invest it in and why?
- If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, whom would that be and why?
- If you were on a deserted island, which book would you take and why? Tell me about the books you read.
- Where do you want to be in 2 - 3 years, 5 - 10 years?
- What would you consider to be your weaknesses?
- Ask me a question about my company that no one has asked me before.
- If you had to take a non-paying job, what would you do?
- What are the factors you will consider when you evaluate a project (an investment or acquisition)?
- How do you select a mailing list for potential customers?
- How do you choose the discount rate for a capital project?
- What is your undergraduate GPA? Your graduate GPA? Your GMAT?
- If you are thinking of out sourcing your production, what variables would you take into account?
- Define IRR and NPV.
- What is the difference between IRR and NPV?
- How much capital does ... company ... have today?
- Do you know how to account for M & A deals?
- What are the major analysis points of a commercial credit?
- What is your favorite consumer good stock and why? What is the recent stock price and earnings performance?
- How would you go about valuing business? What are the key benchmarks and statistics?
Here are some suggestions of questions to ask during interviews. You should already know some of the answers from your research on the organization.
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the organization or industry? (Some interviewers will be hesitant to discuss organizational weaknesses.)
- What are the long-range plans of the organization? What products, programs, etc., will be developed during the next five, ten, and twenty years? In general, is the industry in a growth period?
- What opportunities for advancement are available for me within the organization?
- What is the table of organization for the firm? How does the job in question fit into that TO? Is the position line or staff? If it is a staff position, would I have to move to a line department to reach top management?
- Could you give me examples of the best results that previous holders of this position have attained?
- What is the biggest single problem the firm faces?
- Who are your competitors?
- What makes your company different from others?
- What do you wish you knew about the company before you started?
- How would top management describe the corporate culture, and how does this compare with things in the organization as they really are at the lower levels?
- What are the ethical and environmental philosophies of your company?
- What is this company's philosophy towards their employees?
- What values are sacred to the company?
- What was your career path within the company?
- What makes your association with this employer enjoyable?
- If I do well, what will I be doing in five years?
- What programs for minorities does your firm have?
- Do you have any questions about my qualifications?
Half of the battle, or perhaps even all of it, is feeling good about yourself as you approach the job interview. You can talk yourself into a good experience, especially if you have done some preparation, or you can be a walking example of Murphy's Law. Much of the interview conversation takes place inside you before the interview actually occurs. Make this form of self-hypnosis work for you, not against you, by following these hints:
1. How to psyche up (a mild form of self-hypnosis)
"I feel good" - I am physically alert, emotionally ready, and supercharged inside by the anticipation of meeting these people.
"I am raring to go" - I am here early because I have been looking forward to this, wanting to be here because it's the right place for me.
"I look good" - I checked myself in the mirror a few times. I like what I am wearing. I will make a good impression. My clothes and general appearance convey a visual image that I like.
"I am prepared" - I have rehearsed with others (many times) and in my head what I expect will happen during the interview. I am ready for anything, have anticipated my problem areas, and know how I will deal with uncomfortable questions.
"I am a good applicant" - I am a solid applicant for this job, because I know what they want and can talk about why my background is suitable for their needs.
Perhaps the other half of a successful job interview is knowing how and when to "take control." Within the interviewer's agenda, you must always expect to accomplish several objectives during the job interview:
2. Taking control
- Establish what the interviewer wants done in the job interview. Get him/her to state expectations.
- Tell why you chose to interview with that particular organization and what makes you especially interested in them.
- Tell what kinds of experiences - paid and unpaid - you've had which are relevant to the job. Show skills you have and how they can be applied to this job. Tell not only what you have done, but the results you have achieved.
- Ask good questions which tie your job or career goals to the employer's needs.
3. Examples of taking control in interviews
- How much responsibility will I have for __________?
- I want you to know that I am applying here because of your organization's strong interest in __________.
- I want to tell you about my experience as __________.
- My experience as a writer for the Hullabaloo taught me to interview people easily, so I could do your market research interview quite easily.
- To what extent can I use my writing experience in your organization's development of promotion literature?
How can you "sell" yourself in an interview? Exhibiting these qualities will give you a start:
- Results orientation
These traits will go a long way in helping to market yourself.
You can also sell yourself through the use of assertive, rather than ambivalent, statements. Below are listed ambivalent phrases (candidates actually say these things) and assertive statements. Compare the impact of each.
|Ambivalent Statements||Assertive Statements|
|I don't care.||I'm good at ...|
|That's O.K.||I know that ...|
|I'm not really good at ...||I think that ...|
|I just need a job.||I am ....|
|I'm not sure what I want to do.||I want this job.|
|I'm not sure what I can do.||It is important to me that ...|
|This experience is well matched to ...|
Finally, you need to say that you want the job and why you should be hired (a summary of your three to five strengths). You'd be surprised at how few people actually indicate that they want the job!Return to Top of Page
Columbia University Graduate School of Business surveyed employers about hiring MBAs. These recruiters said the following:
- Evidence of self analysis
- Good preparation, taking the interview seriously
- Lack of preparation (this is equated with disinterest)
- Inappropriate qualifications for the position
- Overconfidence, cockiness, superficiality, tardiness, and an unrealistic attitude
- Vague interests and goals
- Relax and act natural. Take three deep breaths before your interview.
- Don't ramble.
- Listen to the entire question before responding.
- Organize your thoughts before you speak.
- Have a positive attitude. Send positive verbal and non-verbal messages.
- Maintain good eye contact.
- Stop talking when you have finished answering a question.
- Seize opportunities to highlight how you could add value to the organization.
- Don't argue with the interviewer.
- Ask questions (take part in the dialogue).
- Be honest with your answers.
- Be on time.
- Have a firm handshake.
- Look the part. Ask yourself, "Would the person in this position wear this to work?" When in doubt, go towards the conservative.
- Have neat hair, clean hands and fingernails.
- Don't chew gum.
- Arrive early (about 10-15 minutes).
- Establish a good, relaxed, personal rapport at the start of the interview.
- Find out as much as possible from the interviewer, at the outset, about what he/she is seeking. Then feed this information back during the course of the interview as appropriate.
- Know as much as possible in advance about the position and firm.
- Anticipate possible negatives and overcome them in advance - early in the interview.
- Have a clear idea of the key points you want to make which will convey a potential benefit to the employer - and make them.
- Create dialogue rather than dominate the conversation.
- Bring examples of your work to demonstrate your best qualities.
- Find out how much time is available for the interview, and pace yourself accordingly to make all necessary points.
- Watch for non-verbal clues to gauge how you are coming across. Change the subject if the interviewer seems bored.
- Deal directly with problems - see if you can turn them into possible advantages.
- Discuss possible problems that could face the company you are interviewing.
- Suggest ways for the interviewer to verify your capabilities on his/her own people he/she might want to check with, etc.
- Feel free to consult your own notes during the interview.
- Ask the interviewer specifically for his/her response to the interview. Try to set a time for the next interview or decision.
- Discuss any conflicts you may have in starting a new job (pre-planned vacation, prior commitments, etc.) .
- End on a positive note.
- Always end the interview on a positive note. Express that the interview and conversation was enjoyable. Be enthusiastic about the position.
- Ask any final questions you may have.
- Express your appreciation for the opportunity to interview.
- Express genuine interest in the position if you are genuinely interested.
- Inquire as to the "next steps" or when you can expect to hear something.
- Ask for a business card.
Preparation for the interview includes arming yourself with self information and information about the employer. You should spend three to five hours per interview doing research. Some facts about the organization you should know are:
- What it does
- What its needs are
- Career options
- Future prospects
- Research and development
- Who you will be speaking with and their position
Potential sources of information include: information interviews, news media, yellow pages, word-of-mouth, professional journals, newsletters, and trade magazines. The Turchin Library has an extensive collection of materials for researching firms. By researching the employer beforehand, you are able to devote the interview to a substantive discussion of your qualifications rather than a recitation of facts about you and the organization.
It is also important to have clearly defined goals when you enter the interview. Most employers are seeking people who have done their career planning and who know what they can do for the organization. The quickest way to be rejected in an interview is to appear undecided or "shopping around." In a survey of recruiters, most students are rated between 3 and 4 (on a 7-point scale) in preparation for the interview and knowledge of their career goals. So, although it may be socially acceptable among your peers to "interview for practice" or "shop around," your chances of success are very low.
You must also thoroughly know your resume. When the opportunity arises, be prepared to deliver on your skills. Be able to communicate effectively your strengths and developmental areas. Practice makes perfect.
An additional way to prepare for the interview is to anticipate the questions the recruiter will ask. What questions would you ask if you were in his/her position? What answers would you be seeking? What strong/weak points on your resume would you ask about? Anticipation of the content can help you do well in the interview.Return to Top of Page
As the saying goes, "The job isn't finished until the paperwork is done." Before breathing that sigh of relief, there are a few loose ends which you will want to wrap up.
If possible, jot down a few notes about the recruiter and organization for reference in future interviews. You should immediately write a follow-up letter, thanking the recruiter for his or her time. A sample of such a letter can be found here. Follow-up letters impress interviewers and will keep your name in the limelight. Be certain to proofread and sign your letter. Get the recruiter's business card to ensure you will get their name, address, and title correct. In the thank you letter, mention something specific you discussed with the recruiter if possible or something specific about the position you are interviewing for to indicate your level of interest and research. It is recommended that you type a professional thank you note versus a handwritten personal note. Confirm your interest in the position and the organization. Emphasize how you can add value to the organization. Supply a phone number and a time when you may be reached.
If you have not heard from the organization in the time period indicated by the interviewer, it is perfectly appropriate to write a letter of inquiry on your status. A sample of such a letter can be found here.Return to Top of Page
If you are invited for a second or third interview at the organization's main offices, you may or may not have some leeway in scheduling a date, depending upon whether the company does all second interviews on one or two dates or over a period of time (based on company size, etc.). However, recruiters understand that you have academic obligations and will try to work with you if at all possible. Respond immediately by telephone to an invitation for an office visit. Find out ahead of time which expenses the organization will cover and be sure to keep receipts for what you have spent. If you are visiting more than one organization on one trip, expenses should be split fairly among them. Recruiters will not be surprised that you are interviewing with other firms.
Do not accept second interviews with an organization for which you would not consider working. It is much more discourteous to cancel plans for an additional interview after they have been made than it is to decline gracefully the offer of a second interview if you are not really interested. Do not go on site interviews "just for practice." You put yourself and Tulane in a bad light. Recruiters do compare notes, so your reputation may spread.
If you must change your plans at the last minute, be sure to contact the organization as quickly as possible, and to follow-up with a note of apology and/or thanks to the person arranging the visit.
Just as in the initial interview, send a thank you letter to all of the people with whom you spoke. If someone expresses interest, keep him or her posted on your plans, whether or not the firm offers you a position or you accept it.
Be prepared to answer early morning telephone calls from recruiters - they keep business hours which are unknown to bleary-eyed students who don't rise until 10:00 a.m. Recruiters from the Northeast have been known to start their day with those calls, and 8:00 a.m. in New York translates to a bright 7:00 a.m. in New Orleans. If you do get a call:
1. Answer the phone with `hello' - no obscenities.
2. Ask them to wait while you get paper and pen.
3. Get important information - name, company, phone number, what you need to do and when.
4. If you are truly incapacitated, get the person's name and telephone number and ask if you may call back later in the day. (Say you're on your way to class or something more believable.)
5. Change your answering machine to a conservative and simple message. No background music, impressions, or jokes.
6. Communicate with roommates about the companies you are interviewing with and the importance of providing messages in a timely manner.
The office visit allows line managers in the department where you may work to perform evaluation interviews. You may also have the opportunity to meet senior managers. It is also the time for you to get a feel for what the everyday work environment of the company is like. You will interview with a series of managers in various areas to find out more about their actual operations. This is the company's chance to convince you to come to work for them. More importantly, it is your big chance to sell yourself so that the firm will offer you a job.
Often the office visit begins early, usually with breakfast with the recruiter or a person in the department in which you're interested. When you arrive at the office, expect a tour of the facilities with special attention to the section in which you wish to work. (Do not be late; typical on-site interviews follow a "tight" schedule.)
You will be interviewed by several different people during the day, some formally, some informally. Be prepared for questions about your "unique selling point" and how that makes you more eligible for a position than anyone else. YOU have to convince them to hire you. Be prepared.
Breakfast and lunch may be part of the office visit. Be sure to mind your manners, since they will be evaluated along with your job skills. Be careful not to order things which are difficult to eat, like artichokes, snails, spinach salads, etc., because you have to be able to talk and eat at the same time. If the interviewer offers you a drink, accept if you wish, but drink in moderation since it is important for you to remain alert for the rest of the afternoon. If you do order a drink, make it a glass of wine.
At the end of the day you will probably be asked for ALL of your receipts for reimbursement purposes. Keep track of everything you spend including taxi fares, tips, etc. Do not run up bar tabs or charge in-room "X"-rated movies at your hotel. Above all, be reasonable in your spending. Most companies will send you a check in the mail, so be prepared to wait for the money. If, when you receive an invitation for an office visit, you are short on money, let the company know so that other arrangements can be made.
Often you will visit more than one employer on the same trip. The costs of the trip should be prorated among employers. If you visit three firms, each one should be charged for one-third of the plane ticket, for example.
You should never initiate a conversation about salary. If asked, be prepared to state a range that you would be willing to accept based on your knowledge of industry figures and offers given to people you know. Don't overprice yourself, but don't underprice yourself either. Yes, you usually can bargain with the firm (please ask us for help in doing this). Make sure you get an offer before you negotiate. You can't negotiate what you don't have. Additionally, do not negotiate yourself out of an offer. Research is essential to deciding on a salary range. Check the salary surveys in the Career Management Office for an idea of appropriate ranges.
It is possible that an offer will be made at the end of the day, but this is not the norm. Should an offer be made, DON'T accept it on the spot. You will appear over-eager and it will decrease your ability to bargain on salary. Offers are usually made by phone or letter after the office visit. Always get your final offer in writing.
If you receive a job offer but are still uncertain, you should make a polite call (a letter suggests an attempt to avoid direct contact) to the person offering you the job. You should ask if a deadline can be extended and this request will usually be granted. However, you should be careful of asking for too long of an extension. Do not be afraid to ask additional questions. Be certain to respond by the agreed upon deadline, even if you need an extension. Don't make the company call you.
Bring all applicable information on past employment and references, as you will likely be asked to complete an employment application.Return to Top of Page
Before you accept a job offer, ask yourself the following questions:
- Did it meet your expectations?
- Have you seen or heard enough to make a decision?
- If you don't accept, when can you expect another offer?
- Will you be able to grow your career in this job/company?
When going on office visits, the following tips could simplify your life and save you anxious moments.
- Make sure you keep receipts (even the airline ticket slip). Most companies want your expense report at the end of the day of the office visit. If you are making your own travel arrangements, don't make your airline reservations first class. Also, if you will be driving, keep track of mileage for reimbursement (if offered). If you're going to a single city and interviewing with more than one company, your expenses are prorated between companies.
- Take a travel clock with an ALARM. Place a wake-up call with the hotel desk as a back-up.
- Based on past experiences when airlines "misplaced" luggage just long enough to ruin the entire trip, do the following: Carry on whatever clothes, shoes, cosmetics and grooming aids that are absolutely essential for dressing for the interview. Get a credit card if you don't already have one. The card may save you until you get your reimbursement from the company. Allow adequate travel time to the office by cab or public transportation.
- Take extra copies of your resume - do not fold them. Obtain the names and titles of all the people with whom you talk. Get business cards if possible to avoid error. Write them all thank you letters within three days (at the latest) of your interview.
- Most office visits start early - possibly with breakfast. You'll end late, and it is an exhausting schedule. So, don't fly in at 2:00 a.m. or stay out on the town the night before. Yawning during interviews makes you appear to have little energy.
- Take at least $50.00 in cash for emergencies.
- Bring information to complete employment application. Most likely you will be asked to complete an employment application.
For both on- and off-campus interviews, the appropriate dress is a suit, for both men and women. This includes interviews as well as receptions, dinners, etc., unless a different dress is indicated. If business or smart casual is indicated, appropriate dress would include khakis and a button down shirt for men, and a pants-suit or dress for women. Jeans, shorts, t-shirts, tank-tops, etc. are NEVER appropriate. Darker colors are preferred; however, avoid green and brown. Pin stripes are certainly acceptable, but women are better off steering clear of them. Stay with natural fibers such as cotton, wool, silk, linen, and linen mixes. Natural fibers mixed with some polyester are O.K. and require less care. Shoes should be conservative: black or brown for men in either wing-tips or slip-ons, no penny loafers. Women should wear shoes in dark colors that complement their suits. Avoid spiked heels, sandals, sling backs, and open toes.
Try to observe what is appropriate dress for the industries in which you have an interest. The more conservative the industry, the more conservative the color and cut of your suit. Advertising, for instance, is more flexible and allows for the expression of personal flair to a greater degree than other industries. These differences are important to the people judging your suitability for their organization. They expect you to have invested the time and energy to learn what is appropriate for them. When in doubt, dress more conservatively than you believe is the norm for the firm and industry.
For women: Be sure that your jewelry accentuates your professional attire rather than detracting from it. Simplicity is the key. Avoid noise-making bracelets and more than one set of earrings. No dangling earrings.
Your hair should be your natural color, or at least look that way. If you color your hair, beware of dark roots. They can be detracting from your overall professional look. In business settings, shoulder length or shorter hair works best. If your hair is longer than shoulder length, consider wearing it pulled back or up in a professional style.
Light make-up is fine, but interviewers are known to be turned off by heavy make-up even if that is your normal way of doing things.
Do not wear perfume.
Dark hosiery adds a "finishing touch" when wearing a suit in a similar color. Always carry an extra pair in case of the "unexpected run." Skinned-toned hosiery gives the most conservative look. If you are meeting with an organization that is considered conservative, keep this point in mind.
For men: Shave your beards and randomly dispersed facial hairs. Neatly trimmed mustaches are acceptable in some organizations. Research the culture of the company.
When it comes to jewelry, earrings are taboo. The appropriateness of bracelets in the workplace are marginal. When in doubt, don't wear it.
Hair should be neatly trimmed and conservative. Hair color should look natural.
Learn how to tie a good knot in your tie.
Do not wear cologne.
For men and women: Remove all body piercings. Cover your tattoos. Shine and polish your shoes.
Following are additional things for you to consider when preparing for your job interview, as recently published by Ann Marie Sabath, Author of Business Etiquette in Brief:
- It takes 15 seconds to make a first impression, so make a good one.
- People who walk 10% faster are perceived as getting more done. So speed up your pace!
- The first 12 inches from your head down should feature impeccable grooming. Your hair, collar, tie/scarf and other accessories should be a reflection of the quality person you are.
- The last 12 inches from the floor to mid-calf should be very well-maintained. That includes shoes that are polished and look like new, even if they're not. It also means stockings that blend with your outfit, rather than detract from it. As George Frazier, columnist for THE BOSTON GLOBE puts it, "Wanna know if a person is well-dressed? Look down."
Employers have revealed the professional attributes that are most widely sought by decision makers:
- A Sense of Self-Worth - If you don't believe in yourself, how can your employer expect you to do a good job in representing a company? Give yourself credit for your strengths and work on your weaknesses!
- The Ability to Communicate - Be convincing, be eloquent in your speech and be a good communicator. Asking questions and listening to the person answering them is an important part of communication.
- Speaking Skills - One of the greatest fears of people is speaking in front of a group. When speaking or making a presentation to groups of 30 or 300, be prepared, be confident and be yourself!
- Writing Skills - Whether you are speaking to someone or corresponding with the person, the first 12 words you use should include a form of thanks. Give your writing style a conversational tone. Limit sentences to 10-12 words. Your cover letter and resume should be held to one page.
- Grammatical Mistakes
- Giggling - Many people laugh to fill silent moments, rather than merely pausing. This is a distracting and unprofessional habit.
- Hand Gestures - Your hands should be used to enhance what you are saying rather than to detract from what is being said. Tests have shown that hands "above-board" rather than "in-pockets" project a more positive image. The only legitimate form of touch in business is the handshake. A pat, nudge or touch of the arm can be perceived as being too friendly.
- Throat Clearing - To fill a silence, many individuals clear their throats rather than swallowing. What about you?
To be an effective interviewee, you need practice. You can gain experience by outlining the questions in this booklet, coaching, and a mock interview. You are strongly advised to seek assistance from the Career Management Center. We look forward to your visit.
YOU CAN DO IT!!!
Thank You Letter For Campus Interview:
September 26, 2010
Ms. Amy Smith
Branch Manager (Be sure to get the position title right.)
Acme Widgets, Inc.
2216 N. Broadway
Chicago, Il 60606
Dear Ms. Smith:
Thank you for meeting with me on campus today to discuss the position of Assistant Branch Manager at Acme. Learning about your methods of marketing industrial widgets was exciting and demonstrated your creative approach. Acme Widgets is the kind of company with which I want to be associated.
My summer work experience in a factory and my training in marketing are well matched to your needs. I have a thorough understanding of industrial products through y summer jobs. In addition, I have taken a course in industrial marketing at Tulane and served as a consultant to a company similar to Acme as part of my course work.
Again, thank you for considering me for the position of Assistance Branch Manager. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
212 Ozzie Lane
Hollywood, CA 98216
Sample Status Request Letter:
September 26, 2010
Mr. John V. Tardy
American Amalgamated Arrow Corporation
1300 Biddle Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA 58130
Dear Mr. Tardy:
In January, I had an interview with you during your recruiting visit to Tulane University. At that time, you indicated I would hear from you in three weeks.
I understand how busy the recruiting season is for you. However, due to other approaching deadlines, I am nearing the time when I must make a final decision. Accordingly, I am inquiring about my employment status with the American Amalgamated Arrow Corporation.
I hope to hear from you soon. Thank you for your consideration. If I can provide you with any additional information, please let me know.
612 South Campus Street
Metairie, LA 70005
- You have the right to be listened to.
- You have the right to be nervous.
- You have the right to make mistakes.
- You have the right to be yourself.
- You have the right to make your own choices.
- You have the right to make positive statements about yourself.
- You have the right to feel self confident, regardless of your qualifications.
- You have the right to ask for clarification.
- You have the right to decide to answer a question.
- You have the right to refuse to give out information.
- You have the right to receive prompt, respectful follow-up.
Most books on job hunting include a section on interviews. However, the following resources are good books to review:
The Complete Job Search Handbook, Howard Figler (good section on interviewing for shy people).
Sweaty Palms: The Neglected Art of Interviewing, H. Anthony Medley.
National Business Employment Weekly (Interviewing), 1994, Arlene S. Hirsch.
Dynamite Answers to Interview Questions/No More Sweaty Palms, Caryl Rae Krannich & Ronald L. Krannich, Ph.Ds.Return to Top of Page
Guide To American Directories (B. Klein Publications, P. O. Box 8503, Coral Springs, FL 33065). A listing and description of 6,000 directories with more than 300 major industrial, professional, and mercantile classifications.
Encyclopedia of Associations, Volume 1 (National Organizations of the United States, Gale Research Company, Book Tower, Detroit, MI 48266). A guide to 14,000 national organizations of all types, purposes and interests. Useful in locating placement committees that can help you learn of specific job openings in your field of interest; getting membership lists of individuals in order to develop personal contacts; and learning where and when confrences are being held.
Directory of Corporate Affiliations (National Register Company, Inc., 5201 Old Orchard Road, Skokie, IL 60076). Provides detailed information on "who owns whom" as a result of mergers and acquisitions. Useful when seeking detailed information on the corporate structure of a parent company or for a company not listed in other directories because it is a subsidiary division or an affiliate.
The Career Guide: Dun's Employment Opportunities Directory(Dun and Bradstreet Information Services, 99 Church Street, New York, NY 10007). Alphabetical listing of employers. Includes a list of educational and experience specialties the company generally hires.
Moody's Manuals(Moody's Investor Services). Information from company reports, proxy statements, and regulatory reports.
Standard and Poor's Industry Surveys. Produced quarterly, focus is on industry type. Contains charts and graphs comparing individual employer's operating revenues, net income, debt capital ratio, etc., within each industry.
Polk's World Bank Directory-North American Edition (U.S., Canada, Mexico, Central America and Caribbean), (R. L. Polk Company, 2001 Elm Hill Pike, P. O. Box 1340, Nashville, TN 37202). Listing of banks, other financial institutions, and government agencies by address.Return to Top of Page
What Companies are Nearby?
In what state(s) does a company have facilities?
- Moody's Manuals
- Directory of Corporate Affiliations
- Company 10Ks and annual report
- Job Seekers guide to Private an Public Companies
What are the high growth industries today?
- Value Line Investment Surveys
- Predicasts forecast manuals
- Refer to Directory of industry sources for other sources
What are the salary levels in specific industries?
- American Compensation Association publications
- The American Almanac of Jobs and Salaries
- National Association of Colleges and Employers (formerly College Placement Council) salary survey
Who are the firms competitors?
- Dun & Bradstreet Million Dollar Directory (list of other companies making the same product)
- Standard & Poor's Industry Survey
- Business periodicals index
- Industry Buying Guides
What industries use specific types of individuals?
- Encyclopedia of Associations
- National Trade and Professional Associations of the United States (identify appropriate organizations, obtain membership lists, note companies and industries)
- Directory of U.S. Labor Organizations (identify associations, obtain names of elected officials and department heads)
- Job Seeker's Guide to Private and Public Companies
- Check you library for other occupational guidebooks.
How can I identify the products a company makes?
- Company annual report
- Moody's manuals
- Thomas Register (company catalog volumes)
- U.S. Industrial Directory
- American Business disc (CD-ROM)
- Company Profile (CD-ROM)
What companies make certain products?
- Thomas Register (product volumes)
- Dun & Bradstreet Million Dollar Directory
- Standard & Poor's Register of Corporations, Directors , and Executives
- Standard directory of advertisers
- Dun's Electronic Business Directory
How can I identify consulting organizations by their field?
- Consultants and consulting Organizations Directory (and companion directories)
- There are also many industry specific directories of consultants, see the Directory of Directories
What are the sources of the company reports and analyses?
- Standard & Poor's Stock Report
- Moody's Investors Fact Sheet
- Value Line Investment Surveys
- disclosure Database (CD-ROM)
- Some libraries may subscribe to other stock analyses services
What are management's practices concerning training?
- Company annual reports (employee relations section)
- Membership directories for training organizations (e.g. American Society for Training and Development)
- The Career Guide - Dun's Employment Opportunities Directory
- Peterson's guides
Who are the key people in the company, and what are their backgrounds?
- Dun & Bradstreet Reference Book of Corporate Management
- Standard & Poor's Register of Corporations , Directors and Executives
- Who's Who directories
- Corporate proxy statements
Who are the people in various lines of business?
- Dun & Bradstreet American Corporate Families
- State industrial directories
- Company annual reports
- Other directories (refer to the Directory of Directories and Directory of Industry Data Sources for direction)
What are the names of employment agencies and/or executive search firms?
- The Directory of Executive Recruiters
- Job Hunters' Sourcebook
- Directories produced by state or local associations
Where do I find out about government employment opportunities?
- State: The State Administrative Officials Classified by Functions has a section listing state employment offices and their phone numbers
- Federal: The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (1900 E Street NW, Washington, DC) is responsible for nationwide recruiting for Civil Service positions at GS levels 1-15. This office also maintains a network of federal job information centers in major metropolitan areas. Phone numbers are listed in local telephone books under U.S. Government Office of Personnel Management.
Questions may surface that are not contained above.
- The Wall Street Journal Index (CD-ROM)
- Business Index-Public Edition
- ABI/Inform On disc