Interview Prep and Job Success

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In this blog post, I am going to be talking about the struggles of the “recruiting process”. We aren’t particularly taught how to apply for jobs, nor how to do it successfully. It can be very frustrating and emotional at times. Hopefully, you can relate to some of the thoughts that I’ve had throughout my time applying for internships and take away some helpful tips!

As part of the Haas Business community, I am very fortunate to have been exposed to a world of professionalism and networking. We aren’t explicitly taught what to wear for interviews or how to “recruit”; nevertheless, we are constantly surrounded by professionals influencing our behaviors each and every day. Some may think that as long as you are good at adapting to your surroundings, you will be able to pick up the skills needed in order to become a sufficient “networker”. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Most majors aren’t immersed in such an environment, where recruiting and job search isn’t as highly emphasized. And even if you are part of the Haas community, applying for jobs is a scary and intimidating process.

Networking Events

First, there are all the “events”. Networking here. Recruiting there. After a long and exhausting day of classes, you have to socialize with people you barely know. Oh, and did I mention hundreds of other students are attending as well? Yes, so that leaves you with one, maybe two, minutes to make a good impression on the company representatives, who are taking time out of their day to find exceptional students for potential employment. As such, you have to buck up, drink some coffee, and smile big, because in reality, you’re the host at the recruiting events. You’re the one who has to carry on an engaging conversation, so that you become memorable.

Applying

Then, you have to apply to the company, which usually involves a resume and cover letter. I don’t remember ever learning how to write either of these in high school, do you? So, here we are…students at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, yet our resumes have the potential to look like they’ve been written by a 12-year-old. And don’t get me started on the cover letter. I had never even heard of the cover letter until I got to Cal.

Even if all that goes well, you still have to do well in the interview. Scratch that. I mean interivewS with a capital “S”.

This Decal Helps!

As a Spring admit, I felt that I was a semester behind everyone in terms of everything I needed to be doing while in college. So, I decided to take a decal called, “Interview Prep and Job Success”, where I was able to develop the necessary skills in order to land the right job for me. You don’t really realize you need these skills until you get to the point in your life where you need to get a job or internship. You find yourself spending every spare moment you have sending out resumes and cover letters, and at the end of the day, that might not even be enough. Maybe you’ve applied to a bunch of companies, but just can’t seem to be able to land an interview. I would recommend going back and revising your resume and cover letter. Or maybe, you keep interviewing with different companies, but you just can’t seem to get the offer. Well then maybe you need more practice developing your interview skills.

I know what you’re thinking, “okay, thanks for pointing out the obvious Emily, but HOW do I actually do that?” The decal that I took really helped me to sharpen my interview and networking skills, so that I could go up to any working professional with confidence and enthusiasm. Since then, I’ve become a co-facilitator for the decal myself, along with Tyler and Cameron Haberman. We help students from all majors, years, and interests, fine-tune their resumes, cover letters, interview and networking skills, so that they can apply to jobs with the same confidence and enthusiasm. Some students have experience in speech and debate, and therefore are very comfortable in an interview setting; whereas, others have never created a resume in their life. Not only does this decal provide the basic tools students need in order to enter the workforce, but it brings me satisfaction to watch students transition from the beginning of the semester to the end. How do I answer that annoying question, “What’s your biggest weakness?” How can I find open job positions within my realm of interest and expertise? How can I take my resume to the next level? All of these questions are answered in this decal, so that students don’t go their entire college experience without a taste of professional realty. Nevertheless, here are some helpful tips to get you started:

  1. It’s about quality, not quantity: Whether it’s the number of jobs you apply to, or the number of positions you include on your resume, it’s important to focus on the quality of your applications and experience, rather than just volume. It’s more effective to spend hours on five to seven applications, rather than ten minutes on each of 50 applications.
  2. Use the STAR method: Each of the positions listed on your resume should include two to three bullets. Each bullet should include the SITUATION at hand, TASK requested, ACTION taken, and most importantly, the ending RESULT or impact you made.
  3. Have stories in mind: Before going into an interview, make sure you have five to seven stories that demonstrate the skills and leadership needed for the position you’re applying for. A story where you were successful at leading a group will be a lot more memorable than just saying, “I’m a great leader.”

In short, it’s overwhelming. But, it doesn’t have to be. Fall 2017 will be my last semester facilitating the decal, but I will do everything in my power to ensure it continues on. I encourage anyone who has never been exposed to professional development to take this decal. So, whether you’re reading this as a business student or have a friend that just wants help applying for jobs, we can help! 

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2 Replies to “Interview Prep and Job Success”

  1. I think it’s effective to talk about something on a more personal level. The company reps at networking events get asked the same questions by dozens of students. Talk about something else…try to get on the topic of what they like to do in their spare time, maybe it’ll be something you have in common. If you have questions that are very specific to the company/position you are applying for, ask those too. But try and stay away from questions like, “What’s the company culture like?”, because I guarantee you, you’ll be one of 100 other students that just asked the same question.

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