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If you’ve just received a phone call from one of the companies you’ve sent your CV/resume off to recently offering you a face to face interview, it’s time to start thinking about what you can do to give yourself a fighting chance of winning that all important full time contract. Spending an hour or two online reading guides like this could be the perfect way to brush up on your skills and work out exactly what you should, and shouldn’t say to this potential employer. Remember, as much as we all hate to admit it, first impressions really do count, and people are generally very quick to judge, so you need to ensure you appear confident, hard working, and knowledgeable. Any failure to do this could result in a negative outcome.
Considering all that, the post you’ve found today will aim to highlight a number of points you may wish to consider. So long as you follow all my advice, the chances of you winning the employer over and obtaining the job of your dreams will be greatly increased. No matter which industry you’re looking to join, the advice beneath this paragraph is guaranteed to help you achieve your goal.
Learn About The Role For Which You Are Applying
Firstly, you’re going to look pretty stupid if you sit down and you haven’t done any research into the job on offer. Whoever is sat in front of you could well ask what you know about the role straightaway, and while you won’t completely mess up your chances if you admit you know very little, it’s much better to impress them with your knowledge and show that you’ve been doing your homework.
Learn About The Company Offering The Job
Secondly, in almost all circumstances, those people running the interview will likely ask you about your knowledge of their company’s operations as a whole. To find out all the information you need, just visit their website for an hour or two before leaving home for the interview, so all the interesting facts about their business are fresh in your mind. Again, this will make you look smart and incredibly keen.
Think About Your Appearance
While it might be suitable to attend an interview at a manual company like Access Platforms Online wearing smart jeans and a shirt, if the role advertised will be more focused towards the office environment, you’ll almost always create a better impression by wearing a full suit. Of course, this is something you should work out on an individual basis considering all the details you’ve learned about the business. For instance, some modern thinking young companies might encourage their staff to come in wearing casual clothes, even in an office environment.
Think About Your General Attitude
No matter what you say and whom you see, it’s vital you display a positive and motivated attitude towards the prospect of working for the company. Even if you turn up and see things are much less exciting than you imagined, it’s important not to let this show. At the end of the day, you want to earn a good wage don’t you?
Well jobseekers, that’s about all we’ve got time for today. Just make sure you also take a pen and paper along for any interviews you may have in the near future, as this also makes people think you’re 100% committed to winning the role.
Sam Gatt, a UK-based contributor who writes on all things business and career related
A job interview is dialogue – a two-way exchange of information.
The interviewer is interested in learning more about what you have to offer.
You (the interviewee) should be interested in learning more about the organization and the position for which you are interviewing.
If you want to ace the interview, you must be ready to answer the following four questions.
Why? If you can answer them, how can you expect the interviewer to do the same? You can’t!
Why do you want the job?
You have to be able to explain and defend your reasoning for wanting the job for which you are interviewing. ”Needing a job” is not a sufficient response.
You have to explain how you think this job fits you.
You are not the only candidate, so why should they select you over the others? Again, “needing a job” is not a sufficient response. You have to explain how your combination of experience, education, skills and qualities/characteristics match up with the experience, education, skills and qualities/characteristics they are seeking in candidates.
You have to explain how you think you fit the job.
Why do you want to work for this organization?
You must demonstrate that you have done your homework. When you say – “I’d love to work for your company!” – you have to be able to back it up. What is it about the company that you find appealing.
You have to be able to explain how and why you think you will fit in their culture.
You must demonstrate that you have some knowledge about the profession/industry. They aren’t going to just take your word for it. Just as every company’s culture is unique, every industry and profession has its own unique features and characteristics; features and characteristics that – depending upon what you are seeking out of your career – can be viewed as advantages or disadvantages.
You have to be able to explain that you understand and will be able to fit in their world.
Employers do not expect college students or recent graduates to be able to answer these four questions with the same depth and detail as would an experienced candidate. They are realistic, but you still need to be able to answer them based on your knowledge, experience and research.
In a job interview, how should I respond when an employer says “Tell me about yourself”? What kind of answer they are looking for?
Hi Nathania –
The “Tell me about yourself” opening question is the home run pitch of the job interview. No other question gives you the opportunity to knock one out of the park the way “Tell me about yourself” does. So, why do so many people strike out rather than hit home runs? Lack of preparation, nervous energy and a compelling urge to over share. Let’s start with the last one first.
Overcome your urge to over share
“Tell me about yourself” does not mean tell me everything there is to know about you!
Employers are most interested in the current version of you, so start there. If you are getting ready to graduate, don’t begin your answer with a detailed account of everything you have done since Freshman year and finish 15 minutes later with an out of breath summary of what you just had for breakfast.
Okay, I’m exaggerating a little bit here, but when confronted with “Tell me about yourself,” too many people go on far too long about stuff that really doesn’t matter to the interviewer.
This question is intended to help you get comfortable speaking with the interviewer. It also gives the interviewer the opportunity to see how well you can summarize a large and complex subject (you!) into three or four main ideas. It is your elevator pitch!
Give a brief, concise and focused summary of your relevant education, experience, skills and characteristics, and give it in 90 seconds or less.
Use your response to get your tongue untied using a message you are prepared to deliver.
Harness your nervous energy
Why do people over share? Typically because the are nervous and/or unprepared. When you are nervous and unprepared, those short awkward silences during an interview feel like an eternity, so you try to fill the silence with syllables!
We have all been there! While words are spilling out of your mouth, you are having a silent debate with yourself about how to stop talking. You’re not sure what you are saying or how long you’ve been talking. You just wish you could stop, but you just keep going. The only thing worse than the words spilling out of your mouth would be the sound of silence when you finally stop, so you just keep going until you run out of words.
Whatever it takes! Harness your nervous energy and do your homework. Both are things you can control.
Going into a job interview, you know the recruiter is going to ask you about your qualifications. Be prepared to answer those questions.
The recruiter is probably also going to ask you why you want the job, why you think you are a good fit for the job, why you want to work in their industry and why you’re interested in working for their company.
You know those questions you hope they won’t ask? About your GPA, a time you failed, your weaknesses . . . ? Guess what – they are probably going to ask those questions, too. Be prepared to answer them honestly, authentically and with confidence.
There is no such thing as the “perfect candidate” – don’t try to be one. Try to be the best prepared, best qualified and most professional candidate. That is all you can ask of yourself. Be prepared.
Four Words that Can Transform your Interview
Related to this position . . .
These four words can change your life, if you attach them to every interview question you get:
Tell me something about yourself (related to this position).
What are you greatest strengths/weaknesses related to this position?
Give me an example (related to this position) of your ability to work well on a team
What accomplish are you most proud of (related to this position)?
Get the idea? Every response to every question should – in some way – position you as a candidate for the job. As you prepare responses to possible interview questions, ask yourself: “Why is it important for the interview to know this information about me?” If you can’t answer that question, you can’t expect an interview to answer it.
How do you respond to “Tell me about yourself”
With your elevator pitch! A 60-90 second summary of your qualifications (education, experience, skills and characteristics) relevant to the position for which you are applying. Start with the present, focus on the future, share sparingly from the past. Make sure that what you are sharing is relevant to the job for which you are interviewing.
When you have done this. Shut up, smile, and wait for the next question. Your interviewer will thank you!
Do you have a question for the Coach?
The following questions have been addressed by The Campus Career Coach during the 2012-13 Academic Year. If you have a question, just “Ask The Coach” and look for the response on this blog!
Macy’s began in 1858 as a single dry goods store in New York City. Since then, Macy’s, Inc. has evolved into one of the nation’s premier retailers for fashion and affordable luxury, and today, operates more than 800 Macy’s department stores and furniture galleries in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico. Macy’s, Inc. also operates 40 Bloomingdale’s stores in 12 states, as well as macys.com and bloomingdales.com for distinctive online shopping experiences.
Last year, Macy’s hired more than 1000 students for jobs, internships and their management development programs.
Learn more about opportunities at Macyscollege.com.
Dara Silverglate is a Manager of College Relations with Macy’s, Inc.
She began her career with Macy’s as a Merchandising Assistant in 2006, was promoted to Assistant Buyer in 2007, and became an Associate Buyer in 2008. She transitioned into her current role in 2010. She earned a BS in Retailing and Consumer Sciences from the University of Arizona.
Blake Witters is a Director of College Relations with Macy’s. He oversees hiring for the Macy’s Store Management Executive Development Program and Internships across the eight regions of the company.
Blake began working for Macy’s in high school. He has been an associate, an intern, an assistant sales manager, a group sales manager, a college recruiter for the Store Management team, and a regional manager and regional director in College Relations, prior to accepting his current position A graduate of the University of Georgia, Blake KNOWS Macy’s!
What kinds of opportunities do you recruit on-campus to fill?
DARA: I recruit for our Merchant Executive Development Program for Macy’s and macys.com and for our Finance Executive Development Program and for Human Resources. We have one director and three recruiters for the Merchant and Finance Executive Development Programs and HR recruiting, and we target 15 universities across the country.
BLAKE: I oversee recruiting for our Store Management Executive Development Program and our Intern Program. I have one regional director and eight recruiters on my team, and we target about 50 universities nationally, primarily for the Store Management and internship positions but we also work in partnership with Bloomingdale’s stores, logistics, finance and human resources for our Cincinnati offices.
How important is a student’s specific college major for these opportunities?
DARA: We are open to all majors! In fact, this past fall I was recruiting on campus with one of our Buyers, and she had been a Theology major in college.
As long as you understand business (and want to work in business), have strong analytical and communication skills and can demonstrate leadership, you could be a good candidate for us, regardless of your major.
BLAKE: That’s right, all majors! About two-thirds of our hires come out of the business schools, but the remaining third come from a broad variety of disciplines. They key things we look for in candidates are a genuine interest in working in business, an aptitude for the retail business, and demonstrated leadership and analytical skills.
We’re running a business, and when you come to work for Macy’s, you are given significant responsibility for some area of our business. We want to make sure you are ready, willing and able.
How can students demonstrate they have the qualities and characteristics Macy’s seeks in candidates?
DARA: Stand out at the career fair! Have your 90-second elevator pitch ready!
Be prepared with examples that illustrate how you excel at leadership, how you applied your analytical and communication skills with positive results, how well you know Excel.
Don’t just tell us, show us! Give examples of the things you have done.
BLAKE: We want to see that you have been involved beyond the classroom. Develop your leadership and analytical skills and, like Dara said, provide the examples. Without the examples, you’re just giving us your opinion.
How do students not on your target campuses apply?
If you know someone at Macy’s, use them as a referral. We are not going to hire you because of the referral, but we will review your application.
Apply online! Online application systems are not a black hole for job applications. Over 15% of our hires last year came primarily through our online application system. Every application submitted online gets reviewed!
Naturally applications that get some face time – through a referral, at a career fair or at campus recruiting event – do have a certain advantage, but we do hire candidates that come to use through Macyscollege.com.
BLAKE: We look for students with internship experience. Internships teach you time management and how to collaborate productively with others in the workplace.
DARA: We look for students who understand Macy’s. Students need to understand that, while Macy’s is in the fashion industry, we are a business. You have to be interested in business; in retail and fashion; in business strategy; in understanding what customers will respond to and delivering that. We are a $26.4 billion company, and we don’t do that just by selling clothes. We do that by understanding business – what’s working and what isn’t – and understanding our customers.
BLAKE: We are looking for student leaders – students who are involved on campus, whether it’s a fraternity or sorority, a student chapter of a professional association, student government. You name it! It’s great to be a member of an organization, but we are interested in hearing how you impacted that organization for the better. How you demonstrated leadership.
DARA: We do have a minimum GPA requirement for our programs, but don’t depend upon your GPA to get you an interview. A 3.2 students with a lot of internship and leadership experience is usually a stronger candidate than a 4.o student who focused only on their classwork.
In addition to their coursework, what do you recommend students do while they are in college to prepare to work for your company?
BLAKE: Get involved on your campus outside the classroom and look for opportunities to develop you skills.
Want to develop as a leader? Join and make an impact on a student organization.
Want to get experience? Get an internship, a work-study job or a part-time job or volunteer in a meaningful way.
Need to develop your skills? Take a class in Excel, public speaking or time management.
Want to know your options? Attend the career panels and information sessions your career center offers. Go on information gathering interviews with people working in professions you are considering. Get their advice.
DARA: If you are interested in Macy’s, come to our events on campus. Not just the career fairs, but the employer panels, information sessions, and the guest lectures. These events will give you an opportunity to get to know us and will give us an opportunity to get to know you.
BLAKE: There are things you need to do and learn that you are not going to get in the classroom. Seek them out!
In addition to their coursework, what do you recommend students do while they are in college to prepare to enter the workforce?
DARA: Put yourself in situations that are uncomfortable. Life is full of uncomfortable situations. You cannot avoid them, so you need to learn how to manage through them.
Look for opportunities to work in teams and collaborate with others. You need to show you can work well with and depend upon others to get a job done. You need to show you can give and take constructive feedback and criticism.
BLAKE: If you think you want to work for Macy’s, get a job in a store and see if the retail industry is someplace you fit. And, learn Excel; particularly if you are interested in our programs. You have to be able to use Excel.
What are some of the classic mistakes you have seen students make when interviewing with you?
Not being ready for the “Why Macy’s?” question. You have to do your research. When students aren’t prepared to answer the “Why Macy’s?” question, or follow up questions about our business and strategies, they show they’re not really interested our company or our industry. And, have questions! The questions you ask at the end of the interview tell me a lot about how much you prepared for the interview.
Too much fashion! Students that wear too much perfume or cologne or dress too fashion forward. You’re not going to a party or a club – you are going to a job interview. Dress professionally. We are looking for business people, not astonishing!
Not connecting the dots. Your job in an interview is to show how what you did in school relates to what Macy’s does. Connects the dots between your qualifications and our business needs. Don’t assume we understand what you offer. Show us why we should consider you for employment.
What are some of the most impressive things you have seen students do when interviewing with you?
DARA: I love when candidates tell me something about Macy’s that I don’t already know. That really shows initiative!
Also, when students can speak to our strategies and make their own observations about what these strategies mean to them as a consumer. That’s powerful.
Students that offer their opinions on our business strategies and suggest ways we might improve or do things differently; they almost always make a good impression.
BLAKE: People who can clearly present their qualifications in ways that connect to Macy’s and our programs catch my attention. Be ready to tell me why you want to work for Macy’s and why we should hire you.
If you knew then what you know now: What advice do you have for college students as they plan for life after college and getting that first job?
DARA: Make a lasting impression! Go to the career fair as a freshman to see what there is to see and meet the recruiters. Go back to the career fair as a sophomore and continue building those relationships. Return to the career fair during your junior year to continue those relationships and compete for the internships. Lead the way to the career fair as a senior and compete for jobs. I love getting to know students over the course of their college careers.
Make smart decisions about the classes you take inside and outside of your major. Take classes that will help you develop skills and abilities you will need after you graduate.
BLAKE: Take advantage of the career services and resources at your college. Do mock interviews. Get your resume reviews. Seek out their advice early and often. Start this process early. Don’t wait until the start of your senior year to think about life after graduation.
I interviewed with a company a couple weeks ago, and they said I would hear back within a certain time frame. That time frame has passed, and I am getting discouraged. Does it come across as annoying or too eager if I send a follow up email asking where they stand in the hiring process?
Hi Stephanie –
Whenever you interview for a job, always be sure to ask about their decision timetable. A question series like:
You: Can you tell me about the next steps in your candidate review process? I’m very interested in this opportunity. What are the next steps, and when should I expect to hear from you regarding this job?
The Recruiter: We are interviewing candidates over the next three weeks and hope of have made our decision soon thereafter.
You: So, if I don’t hear back from you in the next 3-4 weeks, would it be alright if I followed up with you via phone or email?
The Recruiter: Yes, that would be fine.
You should never leave an interview without inquiring about next steps so that you won’t be unsure as to when is the right time to follow up.
If you asked for the recruiter’s consent to follow up in 3-4 weeks, and you actually do follow up in 3-4 weeks, you are not being annoying, you are showing the recruiter that you are dependable and that you keep to your commitments.
Don’t ever promise someone you will follow up with them in 3-4 weeks and then follow up in 1 week or, worse yet, not follow up at all. The former says you are impatient, and the latter says you’re not dependable; both of which are annoying.
If the stated timeframe has past, I strongly recommend you follow up to re-state your interest in the position and the company.
In reality, you don’t know whether or not employer has:
- experienced unforeseen delays in their recruiting
- been preparing to off you the job
- offered the job to someone else and is waiting on a response
- offered the job to someone else who is negotiating with them
- offered the job to someone else who has turned them down
- suspended recruiting to fill the position
The only way to find out is to ask; politely, professionally and succinctly.
Seriously, I hear a lot of college graduates (and their parents) say things like:
I didn’t get a college degree to do that!
I didn’t send my daughter to college so she could do that!
With as much money as it cost to go to college, my job should pay more!
You don’t need a college degree to do that!
. . . and other similar comments.
There appears to be some overriding belief that a college degree – any college degree – should immediately qualify you for a certain type and level of employment and a certain minimum level of compensation simply because you have earned the degree and you have spent a certain amount of money getting it.
I hope I am not the first person to tell you this, but . . .
A college degree does not guarantee or entitle you to anything
It may offer you some great advantages over someone without a college degree. It may offer you greater long term opportunities. It may help you gain access to jobs or companies you might otherwise not be able to access. But, a college degree does not come with a guarantee of employment or a guaranteed level of compensation.
What you choose to study (your major) will play a big role in how easy or hard it will be for you to find a job when you graduate. There is a much greater need for Engineering graduates than there is a need for Philosophy graduates. I’m not knocking Philosophy! I’m just saying that Philosophy does not track into specific high-demand career tracks in the same way Engineering does. What you study does matter when it comes to looking for a job. What you study will determine whether or not you are “overqualified” for a job or not.
What you do outside the classroom (internships, part-time jobs, student activities, etc.) will play a big role in determining how competitive you are as a job candidate. Just taking classes and collecting college credits doesn’t cut it anymore. You have to explore your career options and gain experience to complement your degree while you are in school
How you connect the dots between what you do inside the classroom and outside the classroom will make all the difference. You have to connect the dots. You college can’t do this for you. They can help, but they cannot do it for you, no matter how much you might be willing or able to pay.
A college degree itself does not make you overqualified
Some college degrees make you qualified to do specific things. Degrees in Civil Engineering, Accounting and Secondary Education qualify you, respectively, to be an entry-level civil engineer, accountant or high school teacher.
The same cannot be said for degrees like Rhetoric, Sociology and any number of other Liberal Arts and Social Sciences degrees. They offer great opportunities to learn and grown intellectually and personally, but they do not prepare you to enter a specific profession in the same way professional degrees do.
Know this going in! Don’t be surprised by it when you graduate! The whole “what am I going to do when I graduate?’ thing is not going to take care of itself.
A college degree will not necessarily make your career path clear or easy
Some college degrees track directly into clearly definable career paths, most do not. Sometimes these career paths offer stability and good compensation. Sometimes they do not.
There is a reason the term “starving artist” exists and the term “starving software developer” doesn’t!
Your expectations must be in line with reality
A lot of students go to school and major in television, film, acting, theater and music. Most do not become television stars, directors, producers or professional musicians. Why? The barriers to entry into these professions are really high.
The competition is intense. There are many more people who want to work in these fields than there are (or ever will be) opportunities available.
Don’t believe me? Look at the how many people show up for auditions for reality TV shows, American Idol, The Voice and other programs looking to find the next big star.
If you think you want to try to make it in entertainment, be honest with yourself: Are you really ready to make the necessary sacrifices? Do you really like Ramen noodles – three meals a day, every day?
Parents, you have to be realistic, too
Run the numbers. What lifestyle have you created for your kids? When they are on their own, how much is your son or daughter going to need to earn just to maintain the lifestyle you currently provide for them? Are you setting them up for a rude awakening after graduation? Are you setting yourself up for a rude awakening?
If you are sending your daughter to a private liberal arts university and paying for her to live a year lifestyle that costs $40-50,000 a year to maintain, don’t be surprised when she is shocked she cannot live on the $25-30,000/year entry-level salary her first job offers.
It’s not the university’s fault! Your daughter is not overqualified for those jobs! It’s the reality of the marketplace.
So, are you really overqualified for that job? Take my Four Question Test
If the qualifications you offer exceed those outlined in the job description – YES!
If you think you should get a better job just because you have a college degree – NO!
Getting ready for a job interview? Answer the following questions, and you will know whether or not you are qualified, overqualified or just not a good fit for the job:
1. Why do you want the job? (What appeals to you most about the work itself?)
2. Why should they hire you? (How do your qualification match the qualifications they are seeking in candidates?)
3. Why do you want to work in this field? (What interests you about working in this area?)
4. Why do you want to work for this employer? (Why do you think this would be a good place to work?)
Webcam interviews are different from in-person interviews and telephone interviews. If you’re not prepared, you might just miss that opportunity to make a good first “virtual” impression.
Here are five tips to help you prepare for your webcam interview:
Know Your Technology
Whether you are using Skype, Google WebChat or one of the other webcam apps available for your computer or smartphone, make sure you know how to use it. Check the speaker and microphone volume and settings; check the picture quality; know how to use the screen sharing functions; know how to set up a multi-person web conference. The day of your interview is the wrong time to learn how to use your webcam application! If you’re worried about how to use the app during the interview, you’re not going to be focused on interview. Don’t wait until the last minute.
Eliminate all distractions! Roommates, pets, boyfriends and girlfriends, parents – ask them to leave you alone. Twitter and Facebook accounts, your Pandora account and your iPod – turn them off! Allow yourself to focus. Make sure you are budgeting enough time. Be ready to go 10-15 minutes beforehand and budget extra time in case the interview goes long. Have a glass of water nearby and have all of your notes ready to reference. Like an in-person interview, you can’t get up and move around during your webcam interview. They can see you and everything you do.
The image you project on your webcam is a combination of you and your surroundings; and you control ALL of this. Take a look at yourself in your webcam. What do you look like? What do you see in the background? What you see is what the employer will see when they are interviewing you. Clean up the room; make sure the light from a nearby window isn’t washing out your picture. Adjust the webcam so that it is capturing the image of you that you want to convey. Remember, you control the camera, how it is positioned and the image it captures. Manage that image!
Double-Check your Connection
Wireless communication is great, until it doesn’t work or until the wireless signal strength is weak. Signal strength is particularly important when you are transmitting video, so make sure you have a fast and reliable internet connection (wired or wireless). Test your connection speed and/or wireless signal strength to be certain it can effectively handle webcam communication.
You can check and double-check. You can do everything right and be as prepared as possible, and sometimes technology just fails to do what it’s supposed to do. You need to have a Plan B ready just in case Plan A doesn’t work. Make sure you know your interviewer’s phone number and email address. Have both ready in case you need to use them. It the first sign of trouble, alert your interviewer and see if you can get the technology issues resolved. If you can’t, suggest the telephone as an alternative.
An interview is (should be!) a two-way exchange of information. The interviewer is interested in learning more about what you have to offer. The interviewee (you!) should be interested in learning more about the organization and the position for which you are interviewing.
If you are prepared to answer the following four questions, you should be able to ace any interview:
Why do you want the job?
You have to be able to explain and defend your reasoning for wanting the job for which you are interviewing. ”Needing a job” is not a sufficient response. You have to explain how you think this job fits you.
You are not the only candidate, so why should they select you over the others? Again, “needing a job” is not a sufficient response. You have to explain how your combination of experience, education, skills and qualities/characteristics match up with the experience, education, skills and qualities/characteristics they are seeking in candidates. You have to explain how you think you fit the job.
Why do you want to work for this organization?
You must demonstrate that you have done your homework. When you say – “I’d love to work for your company!” – you have to be able to back it up. What is it about the company that you find appealing/ You have to be able to explain how and why you think you will fit in their culture.
You must demonstrate that you have some knowledge about the profession/industry. They aren’t going to just take your word for it. Just as every company’s culture is unique, every industry and profession has its own unique features and characteristics; features and characteristics that – depending upon what you are seeking out of your career – can be viewed as advantages or disadvantages. You have to be able to explain that you understand and will be able to fit in their world.
One Caveat! Employers do not expect college students or recent graduates to be able to answer these four questions with the same depth and detail as would an experienced candidate. They are realistic, but you still need to be able to answer them based on your knowledge, experience and research.