Marketing yourself at a personal interview

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Prof. Jack K. Mandel
Nassau Community College . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . .
I believe that the “one-to-one” personal interview is the key to obtaining employment. The 2010 “summer interview season” is probably the most difficult in recent memory. It takes more than ever to land a job! Unfortunately, most college students lack the personal “marketing expertise” required to result in a successful interview. You need more than good grades to obtain a good job; you need a positive “mental” attitude, too. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The interview process is not really as difficult as some make it out to be. The interview is nothing more than a learning experience for both the employer and potential employee. A company seeks the best possible candidate for a position and will often interview many people before hiring the right one. Sometimes a person is given a position because the “personal chemistry” between the two individuals who meet “clicks like clockwork.”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
You can help your odds by doing some research before the actual interview is held. If you are seeking employment with a large, publicly-held company, you should send for their annual report. Study it carefully. Read it and remember items that could be brought into your conversation. This will show your potential employer that you made the time to find out more about the company. It will make an impression and provide evidence of your enthusiasm and imagination. Remember, it’s not enough to say you want to work for XYZ company – you have to show it. Use the Internet to learn more about the company you are interviewing with!. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
I always suggest that the job applicant prepare a personal history. You’ll find that by doing so, you will be able to answer questions with clarity and sincerity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Questions usually fall into the following categories:
Personal background
Education/employment history
Future aspirations/goals. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Most job placement counselors agree that dress and overall appearance directly affect the ultimate outcome of your job interview. Dress conservatively. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
During the actual interview, remember to let the recruiter set the pace and control the meeting. Follow his or her cues about where to sit and whether or not to shake hands. Always address the interviewer as Mr. or Ms. Smith, never by first name. Arrive 10 to 15 minutes before the arranged time to show that you are prompt about important meetings. Maintain eye contact as much as possible. Smile and be friendly. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Be careful for “trick” questions. For example, an interviewer I know always mentions that he looks forward to his weekend so he “can sleep.” If he then asks what you do on your weekends, what should you say? You sleep late, too? I would not advise to follow his lead. You might say that you get up early to take care of chores or exercise to stay in shape. Make your answers reflect what you really do, not what you think you should say. The fact is, he probably does not “sleep.” He may want to see how ambitious or motivated you are when there is no one watching your every move. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
One major firm uses the following question when they are seeking sales staff: If you were shipwrecked on a deserted island, what three things would you want to take with you? What would your answer be? Your answer might include a bible, food, water, clothes, a knife, a gun, etc. But the three best choices would be an ax (to cut down trees), a rope (to tie a raft together) and a compass (to find your way back to civilization). You have to be prepared for the unexpected. Sometimes, there will be two people in the room with you. One will be friendly and likeable; the other will “act” nasty, curt, and even hostile toward you for no apparent reason. This is a form of a “stress” interview to see how you react under pressure. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
One final comment about what not to talk about during your first interview with a potential employer: Never talk of salary, never talk politics, never talk religion, and never offer to tell your favorite “joke.”. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Instead, be alert, professional, and confident that YOU are the best applicant for the position. If this positive attitude comes through, the job may be yours. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Prof. Jack K. Mandel is celebrating 32 years teaching at Nassau Community College in Garden City, NY. He is the recipient of the prestigious “Outstanding Teacher Award” conferred by the New York State Association of Two-Year Colleges. He is also a “Best of Long Island 2010” winner from Long Island Press.
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