Career Column

Career Corner: Acing the Interview with Coach Diane

Editor’s note: The Knight News introduces a new column with pro- fessional development advice for students. For each issue “Coach Diane” provides students with strategies and detailed tips that give students an opportunity to prepare for internships, entry level positions and beyond.

Reaching the interview stage is an excellent milestone, if you are at this point. Congratulations! Acing the interview brings you one step closer to receiving that job offer you’ve been waiting for. Use the techniques below to outperform other candidates.

BEFORE

Build off of the initial research that you conducted in order to tailor your resume to the specific position, and learn more about the employer in preparation for your interview. In addition to reviewing the employer’s website, read articles that pertain to the organization and talk with employees or others whom are familiar with the company, the more you know, the better. Reach out to alum from Queens College via LinkedIn or email and ask for guidance, you’d be surprised at how willing they are to help.

MOCK INTERVIEWS

Practice, practice practice! Practice your interview with family, friends or a career counselor at Queens College. Everyone wants to see you succeed, practicing not only helps you prepare better, but helps get you become more comfortable before the actual interview process.

GETTING READY

Dress in business attire to make a good impression, and arrive at least fifteen minutes early. If you are feeling nervous, step into the bathroom or another private place to calm your nerves. Take deep breaths and remind yourself that you are qualified, and have made it this far—do not let your nerves get the best of you. Be courteous to whomever you meet, because your actions before and after the actual interview matter. Bring a pen and notepad to take notes, and keep extra copies of your resume on hand, along with any other requested materials.

DURING

At the beginning and end of your interview, shake hands firmly with the employer. Throughout the interview, maintain good eye contact, speak in a conversational tone, and ensure that your body language conveys your maturity and confidence. Sit up straight and control nervous habits such as fidgeting.

Maintain your composure when asked difficult questions, don’t be afraid to politely seek clarification if necessary. You may pause for a few seconds to formulate your answer before speaking, or drink a sip of water to steady your nerves before responding—this gives you a chance to gather your thoughts and provide the best answer you can.

Try your best not to be caught off guard by open-ended or behavior-based questions, stay focused on skills and experiences that directly relate to the position. When answering behavio- ral questions, use the STAR method: present a specific Situation and Task, then describe your Action and end with the overall Result.

Be aware of the questions that employers in the U.S. can and cannot ask! Employers can only ask job-related questions and cannot request personal information pertaining to your race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, marital or family status, age, and disability. If an employer asks you an illegal question, seek clarification about the question’s intent or politely decline to comment.

At the conclusion of your interview, inquire about the next phase of the selection process. Thank the employer for his or her time and request a business card so that you have accurate information for future correspondence.

AFTER

Congratulate yourself for making it through. You may feel relieved, excited, uncertain or any number of other emotions after your interview, so take some time to reflect on the overall experience. Ask yourself if you truly want the position and try imagining yourself in the work environment. Whatever the outcome, use lessons learned from the experi- ence to sharpen your interview skills for the future.

Within 24 hours of your interview, send a thank-you note. If you met with multiple staff, send personalized messages to each individual. E-mail messages are effective,  especially when hiring decisions are made quickly. Be sure to reiterate your enthusiasm for the opportunity, address any concerns raised during the interview, as well as specific information you found insightful. Finally, express your gratitude for being considered and thank them for their time.

These are simple steps to help ease the pressure for your interview. If you get the position, congratula- tions! If you didn’t, don’t be discouraged, there are plenty of positions out there, don’t let this discourage you. Always remember to stay in- formed, be prepared, and above all else—relax and be yourself!

Diane Shults is the Academic Internship Director for Economics, Business and Risk Management. She works with students on Professional Development and Career Education. Diane has over twenty years’ experience in Human Resources within the Financial Services industry. If you have a question for Diane, please send an email to: diane.shults@qc.cuny.edu

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