Tag Archive for interviews

College Success – The Interview Question

Life is a Sport

From intramural athletics to extracurricular activities to group case study classes and in-class team projects, it seems that everywhere you turn, you’re asked to interact with other students. The truth is, more than ever, life is a team sport. Whether it be in college or the world of work, teamwork is current trend. Given this, recruiters today are looking for candidates with Group Skills for their organizations. It’s one of the Winning Characteristics upon which interviewers make hiring decisions, so you’ll want to be able to prove to them that you are strong in this area.

Extracurriculars are an excellent way to develop and sharpen your Group Skills. They almost always involve teams of students working together over a number of months to complete large, complex projects. The key here is that if you’re going to develop and be able to demonstrate that you have Group Skills, you’ll need to go a step beyond just joining the organization. You’re going to have to actually get involved after you do.
Fortunately, if you pick an activity that you’re genuinely interested in, from theater to student government, you’ll enjoy the experience rather than considering it work. You’ll learn from the interaction with the more experienced members who will be managing the projects. And, if you do a good job, you’ll earn the respect of others in the group, giving yourself the opportunity to take a leadership role in the organization. Leadership is another of the Winning Characteristics.

So, get involved and get a head start toward getting the job you want.

If it’s news, it’s for you

You need more to read. That’s right, the thousand pages per week your instructors lay on you isn’t enough.

Some of the most valuable reading you can do doesn’t appear on any of your syllabi. You’ll find it instead on the local newsstand. Being conversant in the news of the day can be a big advantage when you interview for internships or full-time jobs. It is a way to show your college success both inside and outside the classroom.  Interviewers will be impressed with someone who knows what’s going on in a particular industry, and the world in general.

Say you’re interviewing for a job as the manager of a clothing store. When you ask if recent economic upheavals in Asia have affected the cost and availability of merchandise, you’ll stand out from the crowd. On the other hand, not being in touch with the news can be a major minus on the interview score sheet. If a real estate recruiter says, “Pretty incredible interest rate situation we’re in, huh?” you’d better have some idea whether rates are high or low these days (they’re low).

You don’t have time to read more than one or two periodicals, so be choosy. For general interest fields such as journalism or public service, consider the New York Times. Business students can’t go wrong with reading the Wall Street Journal a couple times a week. If you’re headed to a more specialized field, such as education, venture to the library to read journals in your field. Don’t forget the internet is a great source of news. Many publishers offer on-line versions of their papers and magazines, often at no charge.

And for the reading-adverse, there’s always the national news on TV. Better yet, National Public Radio is one of the truly premier sources for news. It covers business, politics, and international news extremely well, plus it hits social issues in more depth than almost any other media. Your campus station may even broadcast NPR news in the morning or evening. If so, take advantage of it.

So download a podcast, pick up a paper, or tune in to the evening news on TV. Wherever you find your news, absorb as much as you can—it can lead to success in college and beyond.

College Success Through Internships

If you think that interns only work in hospitals, you may be missing out on one of the greatest opportunities open to college students.

Internships are available in many fields, from computer science to botany. Some are paid positions; others pay only in experience. Some earn course credit; others do not. Some fall in the school year; others in summer. Some lead to permanent positions after graduation; others do not. Regardless of the particulars, internships provide hands-on experience in real world applications of what you study in class.

Many people think that the most important reason to take an internship is to build a resume. That is a great reason, but far from the only (or the best) one. An internship is a two-way test drive. The employer provides you experience and evaluates your abilities. You provide your talents and evaluate the career.

The chance to work in a field before entering the interview market represents a huge advantage. Two or three years studying law enforcement will teach you a lot about the criminal justice system, but a couple months as a clerk in a sheriff’s office will provide a much more vivid picture of a career as a police officer.

Internships teach a very valuable lesson: theory and practice aren’t always identical. For instance, after an internship in a software company, you may decide you’re more interested in selling than in writing code.

Internships offer tremendous experience. For that reason access to them is highly competitive. If you have any interest in an internship, learn everything you can about the application and selection process well in advance. Apply early and follow up on your applications. And if no internships are offered in your field, consider creating your own. Find an employer that would take you on for a semester, and take the idea to your department head. It can’t hurt.

Your internship might be just what you need to boost your college success!

A 4.0 Just Isn’t Enough

Wouldn’t life be great if you could just get a 4.0? You’d graduate with honors and find a long line of recruiters waiting to hire you for your dream job at a dream salary. A 4.0 is a ticket to Easy Street.

Or is it? Anyone who thinks that a 4.0 is enough to get a great job is in for a rude awakening in the interview process. Yes, academic achievement says a lot about intelligence, logic, effort, and organizational skills, all of which are attractive qualities. But recruiters are looking for much more. The best candidates for almost any job display broad range of “Winning Characteristics” including those above and Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Group Skills, and Communication skills. Candidates who have used their college years to build this critical skill set, in addition to getting good grades, have a significant advantage in the job market.

Even in more technical fields such as engineering, accounting, and architecture, employers look for well-rounded employees who can work well with clients and co-workers, take charge of complex projects and produce results. Let’s face it, you won’t see a job ad like this: “looking for a candidate who will sit quietly at a desk, take notes, and complete reading and written assignments, study alone, and correctly answer written questions every six weeks.”

Don’t miss the point here. Good grades are important in the job market. A consistent C student will have difficulty getting interviews while a 3.3 student with a 3.6 in his or her major will get quite a few. But once an interview starts, attention will quickly turn to extracurricular involvement, leadership, and work experiences. A 4.0 is a tremendous achievement, but slightly lower grades coupled with internship experience, a solid list of extracurricular activities and good communication skills will probably be more attractive to a manager with an important job opening.

So work hard to get good grades. But also put effort toward other activities and work experience to make the most of your college experience.

The Placement Place


A few words for the underclassmen who think it’s too early to start preparing for the job search: It’s Never Too Early!


But wait, you say, I’ve barely decided on a major and now I’m supposed to start thinking about a job that’s a couple years away?! No, sophomore year is not the time to conduct the job search. But it is the perfect time to start preparing for that big event.

Read more


Facebook has a news feed, Twitter has a timeline, your smart phone apps tell you the latest celebrity gossip…so you’re set! Right? Almost. You are in college and looking for the ideal internship or job after graduation, or you are in high school preparing for your admissions or scholarship interview. No matter what your situation, you need to pay attention to the national and world news!

Here are some suggestions for you to be able to catch up on what’s going on in the world around you without interfering with your busy schedule. Read more

The Group Scoop


It’s sort of a dirty trick. You spend 15-20 years in school before you start a full-time career. In that time you are generally evaluated as an individual. To a large extent, your academic experience is a solo act.


Then you graduate and take a job where everything you do is a team effort. Committees, group presentations, cross-functional work groups, quality teams. It never ends!


Your paycheck may even be based on how well your team performs. After all those years of running your own show as a student, you’re expected to be the ultimate team player.

Read more

Interview Attire Part 2-Women


Just as dressing the part is important in the workplace, it is also very important in the interview. Err on the side of caution and wear a suit instead of more casual attire. You never know what a potential employer will want to see!


  • Women: Just as I advised men to wear a power suit, the same holds true for women. This is probably not the time to pull out something with crazy patterns and colors. Understand the difference between a work suit and a pageant suit. And for your interview, wear a work suit.


  • Many women struggle with whether they should wear a skirt or pants. Really, it depends on the geographic region. Pants or skirt are usually fine anywhere, but sometimes in the South and Midwest skirts are preferred. The best thing to do is ask someone you know from the area or someone who successfully interviewed there recently because it can vary from place to place and position to position.


  • If you choose to wear a skirt, then you will also have to determine whether you should wear pantyhose/stockings. Again, preferences vary from place to place. For a more conservative area or position, you should probably consider hose. People probably won’t fault you for wearing them, but might fault you if you don’t. Again, ask around to find out.


  • Before you go to your interview, try on your suit. Were you a couple of sizes smaller when you bought it and now the buttons are struggling? Do the sleeves come down to your knuckles? If so, consider getting your suit tailored or getting a new, better fitting suit. Also, sit down. Does your skirt ride up a bit too high? Can you see things you shouldn’t? Does your shirt come un-tucked when you sit? Be sure your skirt is not too short when you are standing either. Generally it should be knee length.


  • Shoes, are of course, important. This is not the time to bring out the shoes you would wear to the bar or club. This is the time for pumps. And don’t get the really high ones either. Again, go for conservative. Open toe is a no no, too. And no weird colors, either.


  • The shirt you wear under your suit jacket should be appropriate, too. Make sure it is not too low cut, tight or too loud. Traditionally a solid or light print is best.


  • You may want to go easy on the perfume. You never know who will be allergic to the scent or who just won’t like it. Don’t let the way you smell get in the way of your otherwise wonderful interview.


  • Be sure your hair is nice. Don’t just carelessly put it in a ponytail. Put some effort in doing your hair, but don’t do some prom do either.


  • Observe the “5″ rule when it comes to jewelry. One ring + one watch + one necklace + two earrings (one in each ear). Sure, some places may be less conservative than this, but when in doubt, only wear five pieces of jewelry.


This concludes the advice on what to wear to help translate your college success into interview success by dressing appropriately for your interview. Add your own advice in the comments section!

Interview Attire Part 1- Men


Have you ever heard the expression, “dress for the job you want, not the job you have?” The same holds true for interviews as it does in the workplace. You should always err on the side of caution and wear something more formal rather than more casual. You never know what a potential employer will want to see, so a suit is a must!


  • Men: While all men are created equal, all suits are not. For your interview, you need to wear your power suit. Traditionally a black, navy or charcoal will do, and subtle pinstripes are okay too. But unless you are absolutely confident in what attire is acceptable (read: you are interviewing with your mom or dad), then save your summer suits, seersucker and casual attire for later and wear the power suit now.


  • When you buy a suit, it is probably not going to fit you like it should. Most department stores have a tailor that will help fit you for your suit when you buy it. DO NOT forgo this necessity of suiting! You will look silly if you come in with your sleeves or pants too long or too short.


  • Your tie should also be conservative. Think about it—when you see people who are running for president make public appearances, what kinds of ties do they wear? Certainly not the Looney Tunes one your mom gave you when you were a kid. A traditional red or blue tie, possibly a conservatively striped one, is the way to go. Never wear florals, paisleys, etc. And be sure you get the right tie size. That’s right. If you are shorter or taller, your tie sizes are different. Shop accordingly.


  • Save the white socks for the gym and the argyle for the golf course. You must wear dress socks. And if you have trouble telling the difference between those dark brown, navy and black ones, do not be afraid to ask for help!


  • Your shoes should match your belt. And don’t do anything funky either. Always lace ups and never loafers. Be sure to remember that if you have to do a bit of walking, break in your shoes in advance so you can concentrate on your interview and not your aching feet.


  • Get a conservative haircut. Shave before the interview, and don’t be in a hurry because you don’t want to walk in with cuts all over your face. Be sure your hands and nails are clean.


  • Consider not wearing cologne. If you absolutely must, don’t wear much. You never know who will be allergic to the scent or who just won’t like it.


  • No jewelry except wedding rings and maybe a class ring! Nothing should be in your visible piercings and you should not have twelve advocacy bracelets either.


Help translate your college success into interview success by dressing appropriately for your interview. Stay tuned for the next post concentrating on interview attire for women!