How to Dress for the Job Title You Want

By: Kimberly

When you’re up against many other applicants, immediately your goal is to stand out from the rest. How do you attain that goal? First Impressions. The way you dress for an interview is going to play a big part in your first impression. Whether you’re going to a job interview or not, your appearance will tell recruiters if you are suitable for the job. Therefore, you should dress appropriately and present yourself professionally.

Step 1: Company Culture
Deciding what to wear for an interview can feel nerve-racking because you don’t know if the outfit will make it or break it for you. I learned that you should take into consideration the culture of the company. Do the company employees dress up in a suit every day or do they dress strictly for a dress code? Gaining insight of attire that is appropriate can save you from the stress in deciding what to wear. A suit may not always be the best choice for an interview. For example, going in for an interview for a personal trainer position will require you to be dressed appropriately. If you show up wearing a suit and tie and all the employees are wearing athletic gear, you will feel uncomfortable and be unable to fully participate in the interview. The same is true if you show up in shorts and a t-shirt while everyone else is in business casual. Your first impression is then telling the company you might not a fit the position. Do your research and learn about the company’s culture.

How to dress for the job title you want

Step 2: Big No’s
Although bright colors may look like the best way to get someone’s attention, it is a big no when it comes to your interview. Choose more neutral colors for your outfit like gray, black, brown, or white for a clean and professional look. Another thing you want to avoid is revealing clothing. The last thing that you want to worry about is second-guessing the length of your skirt. The same applies to men as well. You don’t want to worry about having to tuck in your shirt constantly. Next, we’ve all heard the saying, “less is more.” This rule applies when you’re adding on details with jewelry or other accessories. These details are meant to enhance your appearance, not the opposite. With shoes, avoid wearing uncomfortable and dirty shoes. Again, we are aiming for comfort because you’re focus should be on the interview, not what you’re wearing. And I think we all also know why your shoes should be clean.

Step 3: Accessorizing
Accessorizing your outfit can enhance your overall appearance and add a little personality. When accessorizing you should still play it safe and be smart about the details you’re adding. There is no limit to how much you can accessorize your outfit, but remember that simple is good. For example, sometimes all you need to complete the look is a watch and a belt to match your shoes or matching stud earrings and a necklace. Finally, one of my tricks is to dress up a bit more than your interviewer. It’ll be impressive and lets the interviewer know you are there to get the position. For example, if the normal work attire is business casual, aim for a business formal look. And of course, this knowledge is obtained by doing your research.

Step 4: Presentation
Having your outfit selected is half the battle. The other half is the presentation. Always make sure your clothes are clean and ironed if necessary. Wrinkled and dirty clothes will take away from the effort you put into dressing the part. It will speak louder than the matching top and bottom you have on or the details you added with a belt or necklace. Your clothes should also fit true to your size and not look like you borrowed the outfit or outgrew it. You’re already nervous about the interview you shouldn’t have to feel uncomfortable too.

In addition to your outfit, the other part of your presentation also lies in grooming yourself and hygiene. Make sure you don’t look like you just woke up and threw on the outfit. Clean yourself up by brushing your teeth for good breath, deodorant, and anything else to make you feel confident.

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Rodion Kutsaev

What Does an All-Day Interview Look Like?

By: Tori

So you have an interview – AMAZING!

You are interested in the company and they are interested in you – GREAT!

They tell you to come in for an all-day interview from 9am to 3pm – HOLY CATS THAT’S LONG!

Have no fear! An all-day interview can seem extremely intimidating – but they aren’t meant to be! Usually, when a company asks you to come spend the day on their campus it is because they see true potential in you as a future employee and you should have confidence in that. They want to give you the full experience of what the culture and typical work day is like at their company.

I recently had an all-day interview with a company and learned a lot about who the company is, what they stand for, and their company culture. Below is the schedule they sent me before my interview:

9-9:30 – Welcome and Introductions
9:30-10:30 – Overview of the company and the Program
10:30-11:00 – Case Study Prep
11:00-12:00 – Case Study Presentation
12:00-1:00 – Meet with current employees and have lunch
1:00-2:00 – Final Round Interview
2:00-3:00 – Tour

Honestly, by the end of the day, I was equally energized and exhausted. I had an exciting day of meeting new people, talking myself up, and a long day of moving, acting alive when I felt dead, and trying to gauge the company as a whole.

empty conference room - Tips for thriving in all-day interviews

After my all-day interview I compiled a few tips for you all as you prepare for your 9am-3pm interview gig:

Dress appropriately

  • Wear comfortable shoes – you might walk around a lot!
  • Bring a blazer or nice jacket in case you get cold throughout the day, nothing is worse than shivering for 8 hours.

Drink coffee/Water
Stay hydrated and caffeinated throughout the day. It is easy to get tired after listening and talking to different people, but you always want to keep a great first impression – so keep the energy up, and KIP-it (Keep It Positive).

Have more questions than you thought you could ask!
Nothing is more awkward than when people ask if you have any questions and you’ve already used them all up on other people. Employees want to be a resource for you as you discern if this is the right company and job for you – so have questions to ask all different kinds of people!

Be ready for anything – Have expectations, but realistic ones.
I went into my campus visit thinking the day would be packed and very formal. It was quite the opposite. There was a lot of downtime to just talk with the other students interviewing, those already involved in the program, and just to wait for others to finish their case studies and presentations. Your experience may be the opposite of mine, but having realistic expectations and not completely relying on them will help you be able to better understand and get a feel for the company.

The dreaded Case Study – Don’t sweat!
Usually, when you do a case study you are presented with a problem and then asked to share how you would solve it – interviewers just want to see how you will approach the problem and if you can present your solutions clearly. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and be creative – this will help you stand out among other candidates – especially if you are interviewing with them on the same day!

Almost always, you will be in a group of other candidates for your All-Day Interview.

  • Don’t be shy – talk with them and get to know them. Being social and friendly is a great way to practice before your interview, and current employees can see your personality as you talk with other candidates.
  • This also means there is competition. Use this to drive you! Before your campus visit – think of ways you stand out from the crowd and hone in on them. What makes you different? What experiences do you have that not very many other people have? Use these to highlight who you are during your campus visit.

Good luck with your interviews!

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Breather

What to do with Morocco?

By: Tori

Read all about Tori’s experience in Morocco

Now what? I’ve lived independently abroad, taken a deep-dive into an ocean of unfamiliar culture, and gone through a few challenges that have shaped my world-view. So, now what? What can I do to highlight this experience? HOW do I highlight this experience?

It may seem like an impossible feat to narrow your study abroad experience down into a tangible, easy to comprehend package, but it actually isn’t that hard!

The first step is the hardest – and takes the most time, but is necessary in order to process your thoughts, feelings, etc.

You need to REFLECT on your experience.

Some questions that may be useful to help you reflect are:

  • What are the top three lessons you learned while abroad?
  • What surprised you most while abroad?
  • What was your favorite memory?
  • What was something that was hard, different, or challenging?

Once you have reflected on your overall experience, consider how study abroad grew your skills, leadership, and career-related attributes.

Consider specific examples from your time abroad in which you expanded upon these skills:

  • Assertiveness, adaptability, critical thinking skills, flexibility, independence or self-reliance, patience, open-mindedness, problem-solving, self-confidence, initiative, perseverance, and time management

Once you’ve done this, it’s easy to narrow down your experience by putting it on your resume. This is a great way to highlight your abroad experience in a quick, accessible way. For example, you can list the institution where you studied and a few courses or projects you worked on underneath your education section:

Study Abroad in Resume Education Section Example

The final step is to connect the dots by directly applying your study abroad experience to your potential career opportunities during an interview.

Q: What experience do you have working with people from backgrounds different than your own, and how do you think those experiences relate to the workplace?

Q: Can you tell me about a time you took a risk and it paid off?

These are two common questions individuals are asked during an interview that can relate to your study abroad experience. Make sure you find a way to talk about your study abroad and highlight it for others to see. Not only does this help you stand out as an applicant but it also helps others understand people and places who are different.

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My Internship Story

By: Heidi

After recently finding out and accepting my first internship offer, I thought I would share my story of the whole process. It all starts with how I found out about the company. When I heard about Andersen Corporation for the first time, it was when they came to my organizational behavior management class to talk about the company and internship opportunities for the next summer. I knew with it being junior year, it was time to get down to business with internships. I listened to what the speakers had to say about their experience and enjoyment of the company, and by the end of class, I decided I would go to the table in LSBE (our business school) and talk more with the recruiters about setting up an interview.

"Since I went in with this 'nothing to lose' mentality, I told myself I was going to be the most honest version of myself in this interview, allowing myself the opportunity to make a genuine connection."

I approached the table and spoke with one of the recruiters. I introduced myself with my name and saying I was a student who was in the class they just spoke in. Looking at the interview sign up sheet it was a little intimidating knowing I had a long day ahead of me next. Although I am not much of a morning person, I signed up for the first interview at 8 am the next day.

I went home that night knowing I was going to need to update my resume, scrape up a new cover letter specific to this interview, and do more research on the company. By the time I finished my resume and cover letter it was a little too late in the night to email it to the interviewer in my opinion, so naturally, I printed off three copies of each just in case. I did my research on the company from their website on the variety of information offered, taking notes so I could really get the information in my head. The following morning I woke up early getting dressed in an outfit I had previously laid out the night before to prevent last-minute scrambling, packed a lunch, along with extra clothes for the night because I knew I was going to be on campus until about 8 pm due to sorority recruitment we had going on that week.

Internship Interview Tips

I went into my interview with the mindset that I had “nothing to lose” with this being my first internship interview ever, and also at the beginning of my junior year. Since I went in with this “nothing to lose” mentality, I told myself I was going to be the most honest version of myself in this interview, allowing myself the opportunity to make a genuine connection. At the end of the interview, I asked questions that were important to me such as how she felt being represented as a female in her company as well as her experience being an intern and moving up in the company into a full-time role. The next day I followed up the interview with a personalized email touching on things we talked about in the interview as well as thanking her for her time.

I believe the most important thing when it comes to interviewing is to be your most genuine and authentic self. It allows you to really make a connection with an employer to see if you would both be a good fit for each other. Professionally speaking when it comes to the interview process, my advice would be to always do your research on the company, give it a chance, and set yourself up for success.  

Of Possible Interest: 

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Photo Source: Usplash | Vincent Versluis & Takemaru Hirai

Know How to Use the Tools in the Toolbox

By: Tori

We’ve all been told the tips and tricks for interviews from peers, teachers, and family members. You understand the importance of knowing your strengths and weaknesses, reading over those dreaded situational-based questions, practicing your smile and wave, and making sure you brush your teeth and shower beforehand.

If you’re like me, you still get confused on how to use these tips to help you prepare for an interview. It’s as if you have all the tools in the toolbox, but no idea what any of them are for.

The last time I prepared for an interview it was like studying for a test. Not just your nice, easy 10 point vocabulary quiz. No, it was like those 40% of your grade midterm exams. Do I regret the effort and time I put into this? Absolutely not. It was completely worth it. I firmly believe it is how I landed my internship at Hormel Foods– I got an A on the exam.

I decided to use the tips, or tools, I had heard numerous times before and actually take the initiative to practice them. I think more often than not this is where many people fail when it comes to interviews. You have to practice for them. It’s like writing a speech for class. You don’t practice it once before you speak in front of 30 people; you practice it a bajillion times, still hoping you won’t embarrass yourself when you go up and do the real thing.

One of the most successful ways I prepare for interviews is by making an Experience-Task-Growth Chart. I make three columns and write the role, what I did, and how I grew down on a piece of paper. This allows me to visualize my skills and abilities without having to think too hard. It also makes practicing those dreaded situational-based questions much easier because I can literally see my role, what I did, and how I grew or accomplished a goal, right on the piece of paper in front of me.

Here is an example of my Experience-Task-Growth Chart:

Experience: My role Task: What did I do? Growth: How I grew
Sassy Strawberry Cashier Counted Tills

 

Assisted Customers

Cleaned the Shop

Managed stock

Held accountable for money and store upkeep

Was a positive influence on the business with my enthusiastic personality and attention to the customers

Problem solved based on customer situation, for example coupons failing
Did what I felt was best; was able to make quick decisions
Followed procedures and safety regulations

Austin Country Club Lifeguard Regulated pool

and safety of patrons

Developed relationships with members

 

Undivided attention and full alertness to patrons and members

Confidence in my ability and certification in CPR and First Aid

Remained personable toward members

 

Class Title Teaching Assistant Held one-on-one meetings

Met with professor weekly

Spoke in front of the class weekly

Graded assignments

Adapted to different personalities in order to fulfill criteria

Developed relationships with students and helped them transition into a new environment- I did this by relating to their experiences

Responsible for fair and valued work

Sacrificed my own time to be there for students in a difficult transition

Cru Summer Mission Participant Spent 4 weeks with college students all over the US in Crested Butte, CO.

Experiential learning; hiking, biking, backpacking, whitewater rafting

Grew in relationships with others, community, and leadership

Understood diversity; lived with 10 other girls who were previously strangers

Learned how to be vulnerable in new situations

Cru Leadership Team Member Attended weekly meetings to plan and prepare our large group meeting for 70+ students

Met one-on-one with freshman members

Marketed the organization and conferences

Utilized time management and collaboration skills

Creative; learn to think outside of the box

Problem solving- students were not as involved and their was a change in our organization. I had to use my creative and critical thinking to develop ways for students to be more engaged and apply a different approach

 

Another thing that helps me while I am being interviewed is bringing a copy of my resume. Usually I just set it to the side, but if I need to answer a question and can’t think of a great example I reference my resume. While many people may think this is distracting, it actually shows you are prepared and provides you with more opportunities to relate your experiences in unique ways.

Now that you know how to use a few of those tips, or tools in your toolbox, you’ll be better prepared for your next interview.

Good luck, and remember to be authentic!

Of Possible Interest: 

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Control Your Interview

By: Kirsi

Nauseation of when your home team squanders a playoff game is equivalent to the sick to your stomach feeling of bombing an interview. As a freshman electrical engineer, I failed a technical interview for a computer aided design company. They challenged me to write a recursive programming method, describe how the inside of a motor works, and explain the forces and stress points on a stop light pole in ten minutes. Unsalvageable as your interview may seem, there is hope to take control of your interview! An interview gone wrong can be saved by expanding on questions you are asked, transforming negative responses into positive ones, and amending a closing statement.

control-interview

Expand on Questions
Although human resources has the almighty power to hire and fire, they can not read your mind. When you answer interview questions keep in mind that your interviewers did not share your experience with you. Illustrate your experience with goals, problem solving, results and quantities. Instead of saying “I practiced leadership when I was a manager at Taco Bell” say; “My leadership skills were put to use when I was a manager at Taco Bell leading a team of 10 individuals per shift. I vetted five perspective workers per month, learned each position, and ensured each employee completed their training.” Do not be afraid to expand on your experience. You are not bragging! You are clarifying and explaining your experiences. Sometimes interviewers are specifically instructed NOT to ask the interviewee to elaborate. The interviewer wants to see how you communicate your qualifications.

Thinking on Your Feet
Interviewers will purposefully throw curve-ball questions that catch you off guard. Not just to watch you squirm –  to see how handle the unexpected. When asked “What is your greatest weakness?” Do not leave your answer at “I have problems waking up in the morning.” Explain your improvements and focus on the positives. “I am working on getting to my 8:00am class by setting earlier alarms, keeping a regular sleeping schedule and cooking a great breakfast. I have been improving and getting to school early to get a good seat.” Typical curve-ball questions include…

  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • What is the hardest decision you have ever made?
  • What was your greatest failure?
  • Why should I hire you?

unsplash_tim_gouw

Powerful Closing Statement
At the end of your interview, especially if you feel the interview did not go well, end with a closing statement summarizing qualifications. Typically an interview will conclude with “Do you have any questions?” You can then appropriately add, “I don’t have any questions at this moment. However, I would like to end with why I am the most qualified candidate for this position…(key narratives that make you most qualified).” I have actually used this strategy in interviews gone wrong and have gotten job offers as a result. Again, interviewers may be specifically instructed NOT to ask more questions than the handful supplied so each candidate gets the same chance. Interviewers may not ask questions that naturally invoke the best answer from you. You can still take control of the interview by amending a powerful closing statement that best shares your strengths.

Other Preparation Tools
Some interviews will focus solely on “soft skills” –  how you interact with coworkers. Interview Stream is a good resource for interviewing practice. You can listen to your answers, count your “umms,” and check for idiosyncrasies. Depending on how technical your major is you may be asked to perform a technical interview as I described in the introduction. Ask recruiters, professors, acquaintances who work for that organization, tech club members, LinkedIn/ online communities, and friends about what you could expect from that organization’s technical interview. There are plethora of free technical interview practice sites.

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Photo Source: Unsplash

The Art of the Skype Interview

By: Katie

I had my first experience with a Skype interview when I interviewed for a grad program recently. Skype interviews can be very convenient – they can be done wherever you want, and you don’t have to worry so much about wearing the right pants and shoes or making sure you put in a breath mint beforehand. With these different conditions, though, comes a set of factors unique to video interviewing that need to be considered. Here are a few tips I learned to prepare for Skype interviews.

Skype Interview

Set the stage.

A big part of preparing for a Skype interview is determining where it will take place. Find a quiet area where you won’t be interrupted (no barking dogs or roommates barging in!). Make sure your interviewing spot has a simple background for you to be in front of – no distracting patterns, colors, or items on the wall. The lighting also should be considered. It needs to be bright enough for you to be seen, but not overwhelmingly so. Seeing what your outfit, hair, and any jewelry will look like is also important. Something that may look good in-person might not look good on camera. Finally, determine how the camera will be set up in relation to you. Set it up so your upper body is showing (not just your face) – it should mimic what you would look like to an interviewer sitting across from you in person. Try different chair positions and stacking your camera up on books or other props to find the best set up.

Make eye contact.

When you Skype or video call someone, do you look at their face on the computer screen? Most people probably do, but it’s not the best in an interview setting. Eye contact is important, and if you’re looking at the interviewers’ faces, to them it will look like your gaze is slightly downward. Looking directly into the webcam is the best way to mimic actual eye contact in a video call. To break the habit of looking at the screen, you can practice saying your answers to common interview questions while looking into your webcam (practicing questions and making eye contact at once!).

Have helpful materials nearby.

The benefit of interviewing via Skype is that you can have extra items around you that the interviewer can’t see. This could be your resume, which you could have printed off on the table or pulled up on your computer screen so you can easily refer to it. Another item I found useful was having post-it notes on my computer screen with words of inspiration on them. Interviewing is stressful for many people (like me), and having that extra bit of motivation or your resume for backup can be very comforting!

Practice and troubleshoot.

Interviewing by video is different than in person for several reasons, but one big one is that there are more things that could go wrong. You could have your Skype set up so your video or your interviewer’s video doesn’t show, or the sound on your computer might not work correctly, or the internet connection could be bad, and so on. To make sure you won’t experience any of these Skype interview faux pas, practice making a Skype call before your actual interview. This will give you the time to troubleshoot any problems that come up, and simply make you more comfortable with what the interview will be like.

Besides these tips, there are several other ways to prepare for interviewing in general. Check out the interviewing-related posts on our blog, do a mock interview with one of our Career Counselors, or stop into our office and we’ll help you prepare!

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Photo Source: Unsplash | Luke Chesser