Graduation may still be months away, but for many restless seniors, the search for a job post-Willamette is already underway. For those in the thick of it, just starting, barely thinking about it or just looking for a summer job, here are some tips for nailing your job search and interview. The Director of Career Development for the College of Liberal Arts Mandy Devereux was willing to share the inside scoop.
Do Your Research
It may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important to know the job you’re interested in and the company behind it.
“Research ahead of time. The company is going to want to know why you are interested in working for them as opposed to someone else and you should know their values, why you’re interested in working for them and what they’ve been up to,” Devereux said.
While it’s important to comb through all the information provided by the company directly to you or through their site, Devereux recommends Glassdoor.com as a resource. Glassdoor allows you to compare salaries and see interview questions that other users may have been asked when interviewing for the position you’re pursuing.
Just like anything, interviewing takes practice. It might mean making sure you don’t say um or uh too many times or that you make the right amount of eye contact. In most cases, it will mean practicing answering some questions.
“They will ask you questions that you don’t typically get asked on a day-to-day basis. Even the starting general question ‘Tell me about yourself’…Preparing for those questions and some of the common behavioral based questions can really help you,” Devereux said.
She also had a sneaky tip: reimagine the job description bullet points you get on a listing as questions. For example, if a bullet point states “displays good teamwork skills,” you can imagine someone asking you about a time you had to work as part of a team and how well it went.
Visit the Career Center
While you can do all of this alone, Devereux said sometimes the job hunt can be lonely and isolating. Instead of scrambling on your own, visit the Career Center. They have peer-to-peer counseling for more straightforward questions and longer appointments with advisors for more in-depth discussions. You can schedule an appointment or come by during their drop-in hours.
Dress It Up
In Devereux’s words, “Don’t roll out of bed and go to your interview.” Although how you dress will depend on the job you’re interviewing for and the industry it’s a part of, dressing well is always important. “Being ready, being sharp, being presentable,” as Devereux puts it, is important for making a good first impression.
Do a Test Drive
Even if you know where you’re going well, but especially if you don’t, do a test drive. Map out the best way to get there and get comfortable. This will ensure that you aren’t scrambling and lost the day of your interview.
Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early to your interview so you can settle in and make sure you’re ready to go.
Hit the Ground Running
“When you arrive to an interview, you are essentially kind of interviewing from the moment you arrive, so be friendly to everyone that you meet, such as the people on the elevator. That all goes into the interview process,” Devereux said.
Put Your Best Self Forward
This may be another no-brainer, but this is your time to shine and be the best version of yourself that you can be. That means smiling, shaking hands and coming prepared with your resume and sharp answers to questions. Hopefully by this point you’ve been preparing, so you’re all ready to impress your interviewer.
Don’t Chew Gum (or other food)
Leave your snacks at home. Chewing gum, or anything for that matter, makes it seem like you’re not there to take the interview seriously.
Don’t Go Heavy on the Perfume
Devereux said that scents are very closely connected to memory, so how you smell can be important during an interview. Good or bad, a very strong scent can make you very memorable, but probably not in the way you want.
Don’t Lose Professionalism
Even if an interview turns slightly more casual, don’t totally lose your professionalism. Remember, you’re being interviewed for a job, regardless of the tone of the interview.
Some Parting Words of Advice
Devereux has some parting words of advice for undergrads, or anyone for that matter, who are setting out to look for a job:
“There are opportunities out there for you to make an impact in ways that you will find meaningful,” Devereux said. “Careers sometimes feel like this is a forever decision that you make […but] we’re not necessarily planning the thing that you’ll be doing for the rest of your life. I want that first step to be something that is moving you towards the kind of impact that you want to have…The world needs people who are excited about what they do and want to make an impact in positive ways.”