Interviewing

Interviewing: Four Minutes to Shine

By Chuck Reutlinger, Associate Director, SU Career Services

Interviewers are famous for making up their minds about considering someone further in the first four minutes of an interview.  Doesn’t sound fair, does it?  Much as they may be trained to do otherwise, they may still do it.

So, how can you insure that you make the first four minutes count?  As someone who has conducted hundreds of real interviews and more than a thousand mock interviews, here are some thoughts.

Positive image.  Make sure your visual and non-verbal impression is flawless, from your hair to your clothing to your accessories to your shoes, from your eye contact and smile to your firm, confident hand shake and upright posture.

Set a tone of confidence and enthusiasm.  When asked how you are, say more than most people’s automatic response of “Fine. How are you?”  Are you glad to have this interview?  Say so!  Have you researched the employer and its sector?  Say so! It might yield a chance to score points right away.

Score big points in the small talk. Interviewers want to see your composure, and your communicative and interpersonal skills, so respond to their remarks, take an interest in them and ask questions in return.  This is critical if your role will involve teamwork or contact with customers or others in the organization but outside your group.  Be ready to talk about current events, your extracurricular activities, and other things seemingly unrelated to the job since life is what you will discuss when you are on the job!

“So tell me about yourself.” First, expect this invitation to talk.  Second, realize that how you present your content is what they want to observe, but that, thirdly, what you relate can score points by making the content of your response relevant to their goals for the interview.  Instead of articulately relating what they already know, e.g. your recent history as shown on your resume,  consider telling them about your future goals or how you became interested in the field you have chosen to pursue or which elements of the job you are particularly keen to take on.  Tell interviewers what you mean to relate, keep the response focused so you hold their attention, and don’t ramble into other topical areas.  Wrap it up with an upbeat remark and let them get on to their next item of business.

Why are you interested in (this position, our organization)?  Expect this early in the interview, too.  It might substitute for “Tell me about yourself.”  You should be ready to score big points here IF you have done your homework on them, positions of this type and know how your own interests, skills, work style preferences, etc. will relate to their situation.  If you haven’t role played these responses with someone else to insure that they hit a target, then you could lose points early in the interview.

These are the common elements of the beginning of an interview.  Give them your attention and practice this stage of an interview as you would the later stages of any interview.  A good start can make a big difference!

Interviewing: Four Minutes to Shine

By Chuck Reutlinger, Associate Director, SU Career Services

Interviewers are famous for making up their minds about considering someone further in the first four minutes of an interview.  Doesn’t sound fair, does it?  Much as they may be trained to do otherwise, they may still do it.

So, how can you insure that you make the first four minutes count?  As someone who has conducted hundreds of real interviews and more than a thousand mock interviews, here are some thoughts.

Positive image.  Make sure your visual and non-verbal impression is flawless, from your hair to your clothing to your accessories to your shoes, from your eye contact and smile to your firm, confident hand shake and upright posture.

Set a tone of confidence and enthusiasm.  When asked how you are, say more than most people’s automatic response of “Fine. How are you?”  Are you glad to have this interview?  Say so!  Have you researched the employer and its sector?  Say so! It might yield a chance to score points right away.

Score big points in the small talk. Interviewers want to see your composure, and your communicative and interpersonal skills, so respond to their remarks, take an interest in them and ask questions in return.  This is critical if your role will involve teamwork or contact with customers or others in the organization but outside your group.  Be ready to talk about current events, your extracurricular activities, and other things seemingly unrelated to the job since life is what you will discuss when you are on the job!

“So tell me about yourself.” First, expect this invitation to talk.  Second, realize that how you present your content is what they want to observe, but that, thirdly, what you relate can score points by making the content of your response relevant to their goals for the interview.  Instead of articulately relating what they already know, e.g. your recent history as shown on your resume,  consider telling them about your future goals or how you became interested in the field you have chosen to pursue or which elements of the job you are particularly keen to take on.  Tell interviewers what you mean to relate, keep the response focused so you hold their attention, and don’t ramble into other topical areas.  Wrap it up with an upbeat remark and let them get on to their next item of business.

Why are you interested in (this position, our organization)?  Expect this early in the interview, too.  It might substitute for “Tell me about yourself.”  You should be ready to score big points here IF you have done your homework on them, positions of this type and know how your own interests, skills, work style preferences, etc. will relate to their situation.  If you haven’t role played these responses with someone else to insure that they hit a target, then you could lose points early in the interview.

These are the common elements of the beginning of an interview.  Give them your attention and practice this stage of an interview as you would the later stages of any interview.  A good start can make a big difference!

Don’t fall off the interviewer’s radar!

By Tracy Tillapaugh (and Katie Conrad)

Write a thank you note.  Why, you ask?

  • It gives you a chance to remind the employer that you’re still interested
  • It shows your maturity and professionalism
  • You will stand out from the other applicants-many people don’t write thank you notes!

Don’t be tardy for the party…
Send the note within 24 to 48 hours of the interview via email to ensure that the employer receives it. Mailing a thank you letter is helpful but might not reach the interviewer in time.

Just say it!
Say thank you directly and restate your interest in the position.

Reaffirm the match.
Whether you send your thank you note via email or snail mail, send something specific that reaffirms why you’re a great candidate for the position.

Good luck!  It’s good to know that you’ve done all you can!

The CV vs. the Resume: Which should you use?

By Rosanne Ecker, Associate Director

At least once a week, I get asked the question, “What’s the difference between a resume and a CV?” It’s a great question!  Keep in mind that my answer is specific to the United States, because it’s different in other countries. Here are three key differences between a CV and a resume:

1. The purpose
A resume is designed to show that you have the skills and experience necessary to succeed in a job or an internship, that you are well-matched for the job opportunity and that you are able to hit the ground running.

A CV is designed to show that you are a scholar who has conducted research, presented your work at conferences, taught, and published articles. A CV is used to showcase your academic achievements and scholarly potential.

2. The use
A resume is used to apply to most non-academic jobs including consultant, engineer, IT specialist, accountant, jobs in marketing, communications and more. A resume is the usual document used to apply to any job where your skills are the main reason that the employer would hire you.

CVs are mostly used when applying for faculty positions, for grants or fellowships or for research positions in industry, academia or government. Whenever your research productivity and teaching experience would be valued, a CV is the way to go.

3. The length
A resume is usually one to two pages at most (with less than 3 years of full-time post-graduate experience).  It’s likely that the employer will receive many resumes for any particular position and will scan them quickly (by eye or machine) to pick out the most outstanding candidates and eliminate those that are not specifically relevant to the advertised opportunity.

On the other hand, a CV can get quite long and that’s OK.  You can use a CV to showcase all of your academic achievements, including honors and awards, teaching experience, grants you’ve received and research you’ve done, if you’re applying to a college faculty position.

Is there any time you would use elements of each in a “blended” document?
Yes! A research lab would be interested both in your research techniques, computer skills and your ability to use specific equipment, as well as the papers you presented and articles you published. In this case, you’ll be presenting both your skills which are relevant to the job as well as your scholarly accomplishments.

When should you think about “converting” your CV to a resume?
If you’ve been geared toward a college teaching position or a research role and are now considering doing something more applied, you might want to have your CV focus more on your skills than your scholarly accomplishments. You will have to eliminate some of your accomplishments in order to spotlight your skills and this can be painful!

What is the main thing that CVs and resumes have in common?
Crafting a clearly formatted document, whether a CV or a resume, is your first step in getting an interview. That’s why people put so much work into the document. It may be the first glimpse of you that an employer gets. Of course, in addition to the CV and the resume, it’s useful to have an online presence on LinkedIn or a web page where you can feature your strengths and accomplishments. It would be ideal to have connected with someone at your potential employer so that they’re expecting your resume or CV.

Should I include references on either the CV or the resume?
It ‘s not usual to include references on a resume. The employer will request them if you make the next cut or the cut after that. You also do not need to write, “references on request.” It’s better to use that space to tell the employer something more about your skills and accomplishments.

On a CV, however, it’s usual to include, or add a page, listing your references with their full title and contact information.

Where can I get someone to help me figure out which document is best for me and to review my CV or resume?
Our office! Career Services, located at 235 Schine Student Center, has drop-in hours Monday through Friday (check our website for current drop-in hours), during which a career consultant will meet with you for 15 minutes to review your document. Please bring a paper copy with you.

If you are a PhD student or an undergraduate with a CV that needs to be reviewed, please set up an appointment by calling 315-443-3616, since a CV will require more than 15 minutes.

Top ways to highlight leadership skills in an interview

Many students take advantage of internships, clubs, student government, sports and other opportunities to build leadership skills. The question is, how do you demonstrate and articulate your experiences to a potential employer?

In this guest blog post, GEICO shares the following steps that could help you to showcase your leadership skills for your next interview.

Who are you?
When you are looking for a job, you’ve got to tell interviewers who you are and what you can do for their company. No one knows you, and no one knows your skills unless you tell them. You have to show the value of your skills and experiences. You need to be able to show a potential employer that the time and money they’ll invest in training you will not be wasted because you already have what it takes to contribute to the organization and climb up the ladder of success.

What have you done?
Consider what skills are important to you and to the job you are applying for. Then think about the times in the past when you have used these skills in your job or at school. Be able to explain, in one or two sentences, how you used this skill to accomplish something that was beneficial to your employer or student organization. Just make sure the skills you choose are applicable to the job for which you are applying.

Talk about real examples
When focusing on leadership, talk about the experiences you’ve had in building or leading a team; include how you motivated the team and even what tasks you delegated. Results are what matters here. Focus on them. What was the group able to accomplish under your charge? Be able to talk about a problem that the organization had and how you were able to lead the group in solving it. Know when to say “we” and when to say “I” when giving examples. Using “we” implies teamwork, whereas the use of “I” denotes leadership.

Look your best and show your confidence
Keep in mind that, as a candidate, it’s not just the answers to the questions that you’re judged on, but also the way you present yourself. If you want to be regarded as a leader, you have to act like a leader.  Sitting up straight, walking to the interview room and shaking hands with confidence and answering questions without any hint of doubt are key ways to show that you are indeed a leader. Don’t forget to maintain eye contact and act professionally, but not stiff. Know the business that you are interviewing for and dress appropriately.

Exuding confidence will greatly boost your chances of being regarded as a potential great leader. A leader knows how to react to certain situations and will not hesitate to stick with what he or she believes in. If you are a leader, it will naturally show in how you carry yourself during the interview.

Practice, practice, practice
Take the time before your interview to hone what you want to say on any number of key subjects. Practice questions and answers with a friend, and then practice some more. You will be much better prepared for a smooth interview.

At GEICO, we have two selective leadership programs that target graduating seniors who excel academically, possess leadership experience and demonstrate the desire to one day manage a team. These positions put successful participants on the fast track to higher-level positions. You will learn the business from the ground up through mentoring and learning to mentor others. When GEICO interviews candidates for these jobs, it’s important that those who go on to the next steps have relevant experience as well as a strong desire to manage people.

Interested in learning more about careers at GEICO? 

Visit www.geico.jobs or connect with GEICO’s national college recruiter, Debra Mienke-Pence, on Facebook and LinkedIn.