Preparing for Successful Interviews

Illustrated InterviewWhether you are going through the interview process for a first time or fiftieth time, the interview is an intimidating process. As a student and active job seeker, I have found interviews to be the most troublesome. Not knowing what lies on the other side of the door or phone call is the scariest part for me. Also, I am not entirely sure about how to “sell myself” or answer some simple questions. Luckily, the Career Center at UVM helps with these questions, how to dress and even how to behave. I have a few short tips that help me with my job process.

Personally, I always have a problem with “selling myself” because I believe it is not my place to judge my performance. Since I am a Mechanical Engineering major, I have chosen to bring CAD drawings, MATLAB scripts, and various class projects along with extra copies of my resume to show and verify skills from job descriptions. Clearly everyone will not be able to bring these specific items to an employer, but consider similar project work to demonstrate your industry’s skills.

Another valuable technique involves practicing responses to possible questions in order to see what types of responses interviewers are expecting. Big Interview is a resource that allows you to follow video tutorials and read articles to prepare for your interview, as well as allowing you to practice interviewing by recording your responses to general and industry-specific questions. These recordings can be saved for personal and/or professional feedback. A sample recording I prepared can be seen below:

One more option, the Career Center website, provides information on general interview preparation. Additionally, you can schedule mock interviews or review Big Interview recordings in an appointment with a career counselor.

Good luck with the Interview!

~Randall – Career Peer Mentor

Savvy Seniors: Applying

“8-month-old Micah laughs hysterically while daddy rips up a job rejection letter.”

“What,” you may ask, “is so complicated about Applying for Jobs?”  Well, applying for jobs and internships is more than seeing a job posted on, sending off a resume & cover letter and then waiting for a response. If that’s all you’re doing, you could be in for a long wait.

The primary problem is that that method, by itself, doesn’t often yield the results you are looking for. According to many sources, at least 75% of jobs aren’t even advertised.  How do you find these hidden jobs? Check out Techniques for Tapping Into the Hidden Job Market on JobHuntersBible, a great resource for your job search.  This process is mostly about building relationships with people in your field of interest. Think: volunteering, networking, informational interviewing, and more! (Please see earlier Savvy Senior posts for tips on networking and informational interviewing.)

Another challenging issue, is that when you apply for jobs, you open yourself up to rejection.  It’s not unusual to get discouraged when those first few resumes you send out don’t yield any phone calls asking you to come in for an interview.  Once you get discouraged, it can be hard to keep putting yourself out there, to keep networking and applying for jobs with enthusiasm.

When disappointment strikes, it’s important to figure out how to maintain your positive energy and continue with your search. Check out this article for some ideas:  Top 10 Ways to Deal with Job Rejection.  Then, examine how you are going about the job search. Get a fresh perspective, reenergize, and try something new.  Also, make sure you aren’t making these 20 Avoidable Job Search Mistakes.

Remember, when you are looking for that first job out of college, it just takes one “Yes.”

See the Senior Checklist for more tips and resources under the Apply section.

Good luck!


Is the Cover Letter a Thing of the Past?

Typing on a Laptop

In a world where time is of the essence, many students ask whether or not they should use a cover letter for an internship application. Over the last few years this question has also been a discussion with Human Resource professionals and Career Counselors alike. At the end of the day, the answer is still up for debate. Below are 5 reasons why you should use a cover letter for your applications:

  1. Writing a cover letter gives you the opportunity to reflect on the many reasons why you are a qualified candidate before you go into an interview.
  2. It’s a marketing tool to help you explain why you are a good fit for the position and how your experiences qualify you.
  3. It will demonstrate your communication skills, which is the #1 skill set employers look for.
  4. It builds rapport between you and the organization.
  5. And finally, a solid cover letter allows you to tell your story in a fashion that is unique and personalized which in the end, can help you stand out from the crowd.

The only time you wouldn’t send a cover letter is when a company has specifically asked you not to. This is a tricky way to see if you can follow instructions, so be mindful of this when applying.

For more tips, watch this video about cover letters.


Savvy Seniors: Interviewing

The interview is usually the final hurdle to the job. When you get asked in for the interview, take the extra time to shine. This is your moment!

If you are in the beginning phases of the job search, the interview may seem a long way away. However, take a little time right now to learn about interviewing, you never know when that opportunity will come.

Interview Do’s and Don’ts

Each phase of the job search should help prepare you for the next.  A good resume and cover letter will have you thinking about your strengths and experiences and how they are a good fit for the position. If you are networking and doing info interviews you will already have some good information about industry trends and company culture. You can use this information in the interview.

Here are some more tips and resources:

When you shake hands and walk away from the interview, what are you hoping that they’ll remember about you? Think about which of your strengths and achievements you want to be sure to share with your interviewer. Be clear about your motivations and qualifications for the job. Show your enthusiasm, ask about follow up, and remember to send a Thank You.

Good luck!


Crossroads in the 20’s


Feeling overwhelmed with life as a college student?  Or maybe you are a recent graduate, still adjusting to life on your own.  Chances are you have been or are currently at a crossroad in your life. Which path do I choose?  This may include: major choice, career, relationships, finances, etc.

Twenty-somethings commonly struggle with expectations and ideas of life after graduation.

The truth is: you don’t need to know what your entire life will look like five, ten, or twenty years from now.  You will grow immensely as an individual in your twenties, since it is a time for reflection and personal growth.  You may change career paths four or five times to see what fits, and that is normal. It is all part of the learning process.

“You’re supposed to have moments of uncertainty about which path to take, because the twenties are full of crossroads.”- Lisa Kudrow’s Commencement Speech at Vassar College in May 2010, a humorous take on life in the twenties.

Recommended Reading- Kenneth Jedding’s Higher Education: On Life, Landing a Job, and Everything Else They Didn’t Teach You in College

This book addresses topics such as:

  • Marketing yourself after graduation in a tough economy, no matter your major.
  • Identifying transferable skills for any job.
  • Networking and developing contacts.
  • Finding work connections in your field of choice.
  • Early years on your own, as an adult.
  • Relationships, and much more.

Best wishes to a New Year 2012! Cheers!