Congratulations, you’ve successfully submitted your application to a recent job posting and have been invited to interview! What can you do to prepare? Consider the power of stories when answering interview questions. Continue reading
So you want to learn about a career path, make industry-specific connections, or gain insight on how to break into a field. An effective next step for all these situations would be to arrange some informational interviews.
So you are all prepared for your job interview. You know the skills, strengths and experience you have to offer. You have chosen what to wear: professional and not distracting to the eye. You have the directions to the company and have planned out how to get there on time with bit to spare. You know the questions you want to ask about the job at the end of the interview, but before you get there, the dreaded question may arrive: “So, what are your weaknesses?”
Is this a trick question? Did they notice my black socks don’t quite match? Do I have poppyseeds between my teeth? Or do they know I was laid off from a job a few years back?
What is most important is to prepare for this question in advance. Here are some tips for approaching this:
- Keep it professional: having an obsession with chocolate may indeed be your biggest weakness, but it most likely won’t impact your job performance unless you are working in a chocolate factory.
- Be clear concise: don’t spend too much air time on this. Clearly state a weakness you have been working on.
- Show that you have taken action. What matters most is that you are AWARE of your weaknesses, and have developed strategies to address and compensate for them. “I have a tendency to…. so I have done ….. to address it.”
Here are some resources to navigate this territory.
- How to Answer “What are Your Weaknesses?”
- The Weakness Question
- Defining Your Strengths and Weaknesses
- Preparing for an Interview
- Sample Interview Questions
Finally, don’t make an actual interview a practice session! Career Services counselors conduct mock interviews, via phone and in person. This is a great way to practice responding to a variety of interview questions and to debrief your interview skills before the real deal.
Recently our Career Services team hosted our first interviews using Skype for DraftFCB Chicago. The interviews were a great success and allowed employers to meet students and alumni, just like you.
With an ever-increasing cost in travel time and expenses associated with in person interviews many employers have embraced interview methods, like Skype, that are more cost effective while maintaining the benefits of face-to-face interaction. Here are a few hints from our Career Services team to help you prepare!
Career Services Top 10 Tips
1. Dress for Success: This is a professional interview. It is important to be dressed professionally from head to toe just as you would for an in person interview. Though the employers will mostly see you from your chest up if you are sitting, you may need to stand up or get up from your computer.
2. Ready Your Material: Know your application materials well and keep a copy of your resume and cover letter handy so that you may refer to it if needed. Try not to read from your materials and keep as much eye-to-eye contact as possible. Your answers will be weighed and selection decisions will be made based on your answers as well as your online camera presence. It is a good idea to keep a notepad and writing utensil ready.
3. Do Your Research: Research the position and the organization before going to the interview and try to obtain a detailed job description. Use the Web ahead of time to research the company and read any printed materials available. Discuss the position with anyone you know who might have insights into the organization. This information will enable you to target your comments to the job and the organization and will demonstrate your interest. Your research will also help you formulate questions to ask the interviewer. Good questions display your thinking skills, your understanding of the position and your enthusiasm.
- What do you know about this organization?
- What contributions do you think you could make to this organization?
- Why did you decide to seek this position with this organization?
4. Prepare Your Interview Space: Choose an area with a neutral background. Adjust the lighting in the room so that you are clearly visible to your employer. Be certain that the area you choose to interview in look professional and orderly.
5. Creating Your Professional Vibe: When you are creating your account come up with a professional screen name separate from the account you use when Skyping with friends. Try something such as your first and last name with some generic numbers instead of babycakes900. By creating a separate account name solely for interviewing you run into the possibility of your friends calling you during your interview.
6. Test Your Equipment: Schedule a time a day of two before the interview make sure your microphone picks up your voice clearly and that your camera has a clear image. Be certain that your internet connection is strong (for wireless users) or that you are plugged into a consistent internet source. Make sure that your battery is fully charged and plugged into an electrical socket to maintain full battery life so that your computer does not shut off during your interview. We recommend doing a test run with a friend to test everything out.
7. Eliminate Distractions: Any outside noise could potentially distract you during the interview. It is best to limit the possibility of these distractions as much as possible. Turn off your cell phone, the television, etc. Close your windows and if you have any pets, make sure they do not come into your interview space. It is also important to close ALL other programs that are unnecessary to your interview this includes IM, chat, Twitter, etc. Running a lot of programs on your computer can slow down processing speed and cause additional lag time during your interview.
8. Sign on Early: Sign onto your Skype interview ahead of time. If the hiring manager is already online, they will be impressed that you have shown up for the virtual interview early. If they sign on after you, they will see that you were ready and waiting.
9. Look into the Camera: Make sure you are familiar with where the camera is on your computer and look into it rather than directly at the screen. This will make it appear as though you are looking directly at the individual who is interviewing you – eye to eye contact – an important element selling point to any interview.
10. Visit Career Services! You can prepare for your interview with our friendly Career Services staff and visit our website at uvm.edu/career. You can come in for Drop in Hours 1:00-4:00 Monday through Thursday or you can schedule an appointment over the phone or in person to get ready for your future!
Helpful Online Resources