Business professionals share expert advice on how to succeed in a job interview

16 Feb

Last night, I attended another event as part of Elon University’s Professional Discovery Week series: The Interview Reality Show. Rhonda Kosusko, Associate Director of Career Services, led a panel discussion involving four professionals, who offered the do’s and don’ts of succeeding in an interview. Panelists Iris Austin, Human Resources Business Partner, Volvo; Jennifer Scrimshaw, On-Site Performance Manager, Greene Resources, Inc.; Pam Brumbaugh, Director of Experiential Education, Elon University; and Tom Brinkley, Director of Corporate & Employer Relations, Elon University, provided valuable insight into how students should effectively prepare for a job interview. The following advice is bound to give you a competitive advantage over fellow interviewees and leave a lasting impression with your potential future employer.

 Some Interview Do’s:

  • Do your homework. Applicants need to be prepared for the interview by researching the company, familiarizing yourself with its mission and values, and knowing general information about your interviewer. Job candidates need to be aware of the latest industry trends and what media coverage the organization has received, such as recent awards or recognition. Learn the culture of the company, and read the job description for the position you are applying for.
  • Practice your interview etiquette. Before walking in the door, take a deep breath, hold your head up high, put a smile on your face, and exude confidence. Body language tells a lot about how engaged or disinterested someone is in the conversation at hand. Appropriate eye contact, posture and gestures should be maintained throughout the interview.
  • Use a firm handshake. First impressions are made within the first 20-30 seconds of meeting someone. A simple handshake can say a lot about a person and how comfortable they are in a tense, nerve-racking situation. Employers like to see someone who demonstrates composure, looks professional, and puts his/her “best foot forward.”
  • Sell yourself. Talk about your strengths, background experience, and possible networking connections. Know your resume from top to bottom and be able to elaborate on questions being asked in an articulate, punctual manner. Do not ramble on about irrelevant information. Applicants need to be adequately prepared to answer tough questions inquiring about weaknesses or lack of particular qualifications or skill sets.
  • Ask the interviewer questions.Show that you are genuinely interested in learning about his/her professional experience with the company and how you could contribute to the organization as a new hire. Some sample questions to prepare include:
    • What is the typical career path for someone in this industry?
    • What skills are you looking for in a new hire?
    • Why did you join the company?
    • What is your favorite part of your job?
    • How do employees feel about the organization?
  • Follow-up with the interviewer. Stand out in your potential employer’s mind by sending him or her a personalized thank you email and/or note. This shows that you are truly interested in this position and valued the time spent talking with that individual. Make sure to ask for the interviewer’s business card before you leave the interview, so you can stay connected.
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