Pacific students, alumni and faculty share their best interview tips for landing the perfect job
With the anticipation of another term’s completion, many Pacific students are turning to prospects for employment during the summer months.
Whether it’s for an internship, career or weekly gas money, the employment process begins and ends with the interview.
Here are 10 of the top tips to landing your next job, as presented by University of the Pacific students and faculty.
1. Smile and Make Eye Contact. Civil engineering student Muhammad Khan ‘19 says, “I was really nervous, but I didn’t want to show it. Smiling is what people wanted to see. After smiling, everything started to flow. Smiling helped me connect to the interviewer and encouraged interest.” Since interviewing at The Grove, Muhammad has spent seven months working in customer service. Khan intends to interview for an internship with a Modesto company to further his engineering career, and he says he will remember to smile!
2. Know Your Strengths. Business major Erin Spence ‘17, who holds a double concentration in marketing and management, has been working at the DeRosa University Center Help Desk for seven months. Spence remarked, “Know what you value in a workplace environment and what you can bring to the table. Interviewers are going to ask you for them and where you think you contribute. I am very personable and outgoing. I also enjoy meeting people. My job requires meeting new people, sharing information and having a working knowledge of the campus and organizations.” Be aware that situational questions may arise, and you may have to think on your toes.
3. Be Concise and Think About Your Responses. Geology major Kaitlin Tanel ‘16 recommended, “Don’t ramble. Don’t fish for answers; stick to a logical path and don’t be distracted. Interviewers want to see why you chose the answer. An example I would give would be that during an interview, if you are asked why a conference room was double booked, explain why and how you would fix the problem. It shows you are responsive and an effective communicator. Interviewers look for people who can think through problems clearly.”
4. Practice Speaking Before the Interview. Speech pathology major Megan Germann ‘18 has worked at the University Bookstore for two years. She reflected on how important it is to think about your responses. “’Um’s and ‘yeah’s— judging a cheerleader tryout at my old high school, I noticed the nervous people would use a lot of filler words. It’s better to pause and think about what you are going to say instead of dragging out filler words. It looks more professional to formulate your thoughts and continue to maintain eye contact.” Practice speaking with someone before the interview. Listen to how you sound and correct any errors prior to the interview. Practice with parents, friends, anyone who will listen. Professors and faculty are also great partners.
5. Take a Breath. Biology major Jessica Yeh ‘19 knows the importance of this basic human function. Take your time and don’t rush through the interview. It’s more important to get your points across clearly than quickly. Regulating your breathing effectively will allow you to elaborate on answers. Taking a deep breath allows you to better convey your point and represent yourself. Deep breathing can also stimulate relaxation and allow you to remain calm throughout the interview. Some people may hyperventilate under pressure, so remembering to breathe allows you to regain your thoughts and focus.
6. Get Connected. Pacific alumna and Assistant Director of Cooperative Education for School of Engineering and Computer Science Irene Camy referred to the Huffington Post survey that showed 80 percent of employers look up the applicant online before they make the call to schedule an interview. Professor Camy stated, “The trick is getting the interview. Start looking as soon as possible; November is ideal. Procrastination is your worst enemy. Waiting too long means you’ll be competing with all the other applicants. School projects are pivotal to show what you have accomplished, along with any coursework in your major. You only have an average of 10-15 seconds to impress the employers, so the top one-third of your resume is critical! Just as soon as your resume is strong, go online and upload it to the job networking website, LinkedIn. Once a recruiter likes your resume, they will go to LinkedIn. It allows someone to click on your work. Just as important, once you have applied to a job online, search for a college recruiter for the company and attempt to connect with them. Get seen; visibility and assertiveness are key to employment. I’d recommend that you put your LinkedIn profile on your resume.”
7. Ask Questions. Engineering management major Karina Castaneda ’16 interned with McCarthy Building Co. in San Francisco from May 2014 until November 2014. Castaneda commented, “Ask questions! Constantly update your information on the resume. Job descriptions should fit your preparations; cater to the job you want. Each interview should feel like a different experience. Each resume, cover letter and interview should be unique. CRC is a great resource and free for reviewing your resume.”
Alongside her was bioengineering major Erin Boongaling ‘16, who said, “Professors and alumni can also help with targeting jobs in your field of interest. First-time interviewers can do mock interviews, which allows you to overcome the jitters. When you are going in for an interview, you are worried about impressing the interviewers, but this is a chance for you to interview them as well.” Castaneda continued, “Asking questions turns it into a conversation and allows back-and-forth. Preparing questions beforehand allows you to know about the workplace. Say you are a business major and work at Starbucks; you’ll see job opportunities and first impressions, which can set the bar for your future jobs. Follow-ups and thank you emails a few days after can also leave a lasting impression.”
8. Dress For Success. Biology major Alana Manning ‘18 reflected, “My mother instilled in me to always look the part. This day and age, people forget to take into consideration your attire and how it plays into an interview. I have had five jobs that have given me a full range of experiences. When interviewed for Best Buy‘s Mobile Phone Sales Department, I wore black slacks, heels and a blue collared shirt. While working at Visionary Home Builders, I worked as an Intern Leasing Agent for Property Management. I had to wear a blazer or slacks with heels. During this initial interview, I wore a full suit since I was to meet the CEO of the company. One of the other applicants had on capris and sandals; I believe that affected her chances being hired. Look clean; have your nails trimmed or manicured, ironed shirt and pants and shower. Straighten untamed hair or at least make it presentable. Dressing nice gives me control and confidence and makes me feel really good.”
9. Build Networks. Director Margaret Roberts of Pacific’s Eberhardt Career Management Center begins her 15th year here at Pacific while pursuing her Master’s in Education as a student.
As her business students in their junior and senior years are required to take a one-unit career development course, they cover personal commercials, or the “elevator pitch,” and provide guidance on interviews and how to present yourself professionally, as well as the importance of networks and relationships.
Roberts said, “The interview process has a transactional quality similar to when a career is undergoing its many phases. Some careers plateau, some end up retiring, while others change directions. Changing directions may require going back to school or relearning. If we build trusted relationships over the course of our career’s evolution, we can rely on our connections at each of the transitions.”
She also commented, “I see students fail to realize that the person they are sitting next to in school could be a resource. People tend not to take advantage of that. I recommend people attend events; they end up learning something or shaping their own views as to career progression. It’s an interesting experience to watch ‘the lightbulbs’ of students turn on throughout the semester as they discover that networking may become harder after school.”
10. Consider your Recruiter. The recruiting role is often entry-level and thus sees a lot of turnover. It makes for an interesting dynamic in a key stakeholder. Companies who seek employment from colleges often use similar-aged employees to recruit new members. While this is not exclusive, you will likely face a high proportion of Millennial recruiters 1-5 years out of college. Use this to your advantage! Knowing how to approach someone through similar interests or views can make an interview enjoyable for the both of you.
After reading these tips, you should now be prepared to seek out some promising jobs. Good luck on those interviews, Tigers!
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