The Sponge: Soft-Skill Savvy

By Conor Lynch

Sometimes, you need more than results. As human beings, we are creatures who enjoy and thrive off of social interactions. In today’s modern business world, we need “soft skills.” Whereas hard skills show a more typical measure of job performance, sales figures for example, soft skills exemplify your ability to connect with the humans around you.

Having tangible soft skills means understanding four communication skills. Four key communication skills are listening, thinking, nonverbal responding, and flexible speaking. Understanding the interaction of the four skills when creating meaningful conversation turns you into a sponge. In this metaphor, a sponge takes in limitless information, squeezes out everything unnecessary, leaves “bubbles” behind, and shows flexibility.

Active Listening

smiley_face_sponge_shapeListening is not the same as hearing: a common misconception. Listening is understanding what you’re being told and communicating to the person talking that you’re hearing. When in a meeting, typically one person leads the discussion. We’ve all been in that position, taking a moment to look around when speaking and realizing that most people in the room fail to pay attention to a word you are saying. Understanding proper active listening will lead to better conversations within a business environment. To improve my ability in listening, I’ve made it my goal to immediately write down as many details from a conversation as I can; the more I write the better I listen. Following my writings is an easy way to track progress towards a goal. Step one in becoming a sponge is absorbing as much information as possible.

Critical Thinking

Now that you have begun listening to provided information, next think critically about what the information means to you. Generally, information is passed for a reason. Figure out what value that information has to you. Does it impact your company? Do you need to change the way you do your job? While these questions may seem big, you may find the answers in minor adjustments to your normal business routine. Sometimes a small change leads to monumental improvement. To improve this skill, I’ve built upon my note taking in the listening section; I try to identify the key points of that conversation that I’ve written about and see what conclusions I can draw from the information. For example, I’ve found after listening to a class lecture, the best way to improve retention is to think about everything discussed to get to the key points. Step two in becoming a sponge is to squeeze out all the unnecessary information.

Nonverbal Responses

How many times have we been looking around the room giving a speech and gotten the impression that everyone else would rather be anywhere else but here? We’ve all been there. For everyone involved, we must ensure that our body language is engaging to those who are speaking. Some options for body language include sitting up straight, providing visual feedback, showing interest, and maintaining an open body posture. These are common ways that businesspeople try to communicate that they are engaged and receptive to what is being discussed. To improve this skill, I’m working on actively thinking about my posture. By keeping that thought active in my mind, I hope that eventually it will become a habit and automatic, rather than forced and considered. When I gave a presentation last month, I noticed a person in the back of the room who would smile at me whenever I looked that person’s way, indicating interest and listening skills. From my perspective, as the presenter, that listening provides encouragement that leads to a better job presenting. The third step in becoming a sponge is to leave “bubbles”–the memory of your nonverbal interaction.

Flexible Speaking

Many factors go into being a good communicator, including what most people think of: understanding how and when to speak. Nothing is more important in conversation than understanding the context. In addition, understanding the effects of breathing, vocal volume, and tone can greatly enhance the value of your conversations for both you and those that you are conversing with. Mastering these concepts makes it easier to create emphasis and clarity within a conversation. To work on my speaking ability, I’m focusing on my inflection and practicing in my spare time to give myself a better ability to portray multiple messages. Perhaps the leading example of a great speaker in recent years is President Obama. He has shown diversity in his speaking tone over the past few years: confident and bold when triumphant, stern and rigid when necessary, and tender and delicate when dealing with tragedy. Just watching a few of his famous speeches of over the years, I see why he’s one of the best orators of our time. To complete the process of becoming a soft-skill sponge, be flexible. Just like a sponge can squeeze its way into any nook or cranny, your speaking ability should be able to respond effectively to any situation and use the tone necessary to convey your message.

In today’s business world, results are not just about the numbers and goals; success is about how effectively you communicate and understand those around you. Improving your soft skills can majorly impact your future in the business world. Think about becoming a sponge: absorb information, squeeze everything unnecessary out, leave behind positive interactions, and be flexible enough to perform any communication effectively. If all four of those skills come to a sponge without any trouble, with practice, anyone else can acquire them too.

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December 7, 2016 at 5:29 pm Leave a comment

Making Your Resume Stand Out: Tips for College Students

By Brian Schmid

Resumes intimidate many college students. No single instruction or format exists for a perfect resume, and effective resumes don’t all look the same. A clean, professional resume can earn a candidate in the middle of the pack an interview, and a bad one can stop even the most competitive individual’s job search dead in its tracks.

My resume from high school almost embarrasses me – not because of the information but because of way I structured it. My unprofessional resume probably cost me early internship and work opportunities, and my current resume looks almost unrecognizable compared to my high school resume.

I’d like to share three tips I’ve picked up to create a strong resume and set yourself apart from the crowd: format with a message in mind, build better bullets, and tailor your experience.

brian

Format with a Message in Mind

The vast majority of my interviews have started with the same question: “Walk me through your resume.” While having a clear and concise answer to this question is vital, you can really set yourself apart by formatting your resume with this question in mind.

Place the most important section at the top of the resume. For most college students recruiting for internships or full-time positions, the top should be education followed by work experience.

Order gets a little grayer after education and work experience. I have a section on leadership, a section on extracurricular activities, and a short section on relevant skills. However, each person’s resume will be different depending on their experiences and things they’d like to emphasize. Academics may have a list of their published works, while independent consultants may have names of companies they’ve assisted.

Highlight key points in your work experience and extracurricular activities that will send a cohesive message. If you’re looking for a position in auditing and you’ve served as a treasurer or financial manager in multiple organizations, then highlight that experience every time it occurred. It reinforces your qualifications to the recruiter as he or she skims your resume. I’ll cover the challenge of finding the best way to highlight your work experience next.

Build Better Bullets

Bullet points comprise the majority of space on a resume, so you should pay close attention to best practices when creating yours. Here’s an example of the difference good bullet points can make:

Bad

  • Employee of the month (2x)

Good

  • Recognized twice as a STAR employee – top 5% of sales force

See the difference? The second bullet point is significantly more clear. Not only does it show that you were recognized twice for performance, it lays out the exact requirements you achieved. In addition, it starts off with a verb, making the recognition more active and action-oriented. Making every bullet point action-oriented will make the list parallel.

Bullet points should always be as specific as possible, preferably utilizing hard numbers or percentages to denote increases or decreases. I generally use three bullet points per position or job, but no hard and fast rule exists – just make sure that no one position has too many bullet points, or it will look awkward on the page.

Tailor Your Experience

Tailoring your experience is extremely important. Any job or extracurricular position has many facets, and even more ways in which you can describe those discrete parts of your experience. Therefore, you should never apply to a new position with the same resume. Go through your resume with a fine-tooth comb and adjust your wording, experience, or bullet points to the position you’re applying for. For instance, if you completed an internship at the finance department in a global logistics form, another logistics firm would care deeply about your logistics experience, while an investment bank would care more about your financial modeling experience. You can tailor and target your resume towards each industry and position. For instance, let’s look at structuring a bullet point differently for consulting versus investment banking

Consulting

  • Created recommendations that improved overall kitchen throughput by 15%

Investment Banking

  • Created a dynamic Excel model that tracked all ingredients by date and type

See the difference? Both bullet points are about an individual creating a program that tracks ingredients in a restaurant, but the consulting bullet focuses on what you did with the data, while the investment banking bullet focuses on how you generated the data.

I recommend creating a master resume listing all of your experience, skills, awards, and education and adding to it over time. This list will probably be many pages long. When it comes time to apply for a position, you can use this master copy as a reference and effectively leverage your experience and resume to get an interview.

Creating a resume can be an intimidating part of the recruiting process, but attention to detail and effort in this process will pay dividends in the long run. Remember, if you format with a message in mind, create action-oriented bullets, and tailor your resume to the position, your resume will be heading towards the head of the pack.

For more excellent tips on resume creation and interview preparation, check out some of our other articles in the Job-Search Communication category.

December 7, 2016 at 4:26 pm Leave a comment

Optimizing Communication in the Workplace: A Guide for Young Professionals

By Aaron Arvizu-Arguelles

Don’t text and drive. Keep your cellphone screen off at the movie theater. Apply silent mode to your cellphone when listening to a presentation. Don’t speak too loudly at church. Throughout your life, you have learned proper communication etiquette that allows you to have functioning social and personal relationships. Now, as you leave the comfort of your university’s zip code and enter the workforce, you must have a firm grasp of effective communication in the workplace. This guide presents a theory, its practice, and importance.

Strategizing early and often will lead to improvement

If you do play or have ever played sports, you probably had a coach who taught you the fundamentals in order for you to get acquainted with the activity. This coach or mentor, however, was not ubiquitous during all practices and games. His or her aim
was to get you to understand a particular process so that you could perform it on your own and self-improve based on your execution. This idea of learning, iterating, and improving is what drives the habit of continually refining communication skills ppvin the workplace. Allow me to tell you a story – In ninth grade, after an altercation with a student, I had the opportunity of speaking with the school’s intimidating vice principal. The interaction taught me how to properly introduce myself to those in positions of authority and when to speak. As the tall, lanky middle-aged vice principal listened to my side of the story, he nodded his head while firmly holding a clipboard to his chest. He interrupted me before I could finish, yet I attempted to continue. The interruption had apparently meant my turn to speak was over and his began. As I walked away from the conversation, I thought about student-faculty communication. Through experience, I learned to add these skills – ceding word to superiors and exhibiting patience – to my communication arsenal and use them in the future. For example, when I encountered similar authority figures, such as vice principals, I knew how to handle myself. The Preparation, Importance, and Versatility (PPV) strategy to effective communication in the workplace requires you to use the same intuition because you must perpetually develop communication skills as your career develops.

How does PPV work?

Preparation, Poise, and Versatility (PPV) intends to establish a habit in your routine. This habit starts with the art of preparation. As a young professional, opportunities to communicate with colleagues, management, and customers, are incredibly diverse. As such, you must always be ready for what your day presents. Let’s assume you’re taking part in a department-wide meeting which features a regional director.

  • Preparation: This meeting could present various communication opportunities, such as a quick introduction and handshake or a cold call in the middle of the presentation, requiring you to present a well-formed response. As you prepare for this meeting, emphasize all conceivable avenues of communication with the regional director and other attendees. Specifically, researching the director’s educational and professional backgrounds, as well as his contributions to the current company project, may be helpful in establishing rapport with him. Other examples of preparation for this meeting could include: 1) researching cultural background of regional director, 2) preparing a response to documents sent to attendees before the meeting, and 3) composing a plan that solves the problem at hand.
  • Poise: I have heard the following from multiple men and women: confidence is the most attractive feature in a partner. You don’t want to seem nervous or out-of-control during a first date, right? Likewise, you must hold your physical and mental composure when communicating in the workplace. As a young professional, a disposition with heavy doses of evident self-assurance enables you to demonstrate strong communication skills. Using the above example, when attending the meeting, remain mentally prepared for the potential encounter with the director so that you’re not caught off guard. During the encounter, follow proper professional etiquette and have the belief that you are the most important person in the room as you speak. This does not mean to display arrogance–rather demonstrate comfort with the situation and willingness to participate in challenging professional scenarios.
  • Versatility: Every opportunity to communicate in the workplace as a young professional is different. As such, you must be willing to adapt to each scenario and apply different communication strategies. The above mentioned meeting is ambiguous in that you’re not aware of the director’s expectations. If he or she wishes to see the quick-thinking of his recent hires, he or she may instruct you to lead the meeting. In this case, you must be flexible and adapt to the situation, understanding how you must use what you have prepared or how you may need to adjust prepared material. Flexibility when dealing with a communication opportunity allows you to successfully accomplish job objects while validating your credentials as a worthy employee.

Why should this matter to you?

The transition from academic to professional life poses various challenges with differing solutions. Figuring out how to communicate effectively enables a young professional to effectively launch a successful career. That is, as you start to move up the corporate ladder, differentiating your skills and results will propel you to new heights. If you’re able to display a robust competence in communicating with others through any medium and under any circumstance, your peers will have a more positive perspective of your abilities and reputation.

PPV relies on self-awareness and self-motivation. Assuming you don’t have Barack Obama’s orating skills or Kevin Spacey’s quick-thinking, you can always improve your communication effectiveness. PPV implores young professionals to exhaust preparation for potential communication opportunities to: 1) better display knowledge of the subject to others and 2) feel more comfortable and be poised. Preparation facilitates the idea of poise and versatility. After a particular communication opportunity, such as meeting with your regional director or giving an elevator speech to your manager, you must use the results and feedback from the encounter and use them when preparing for another opportunity. The repetition of this process catalyzes positive habits in your routine when communicating in the workplace.

December 7, 2016 at 1:55 pm Leave a comment

The Power of Empathy

By Brian Kim

The typical traits that attract recruiters during a student’s job search process are the drive for success, competitiveness, and individualism. However, these characteristics sometimes tend to stray us away from an essential human value– the importance of caring for others. In this highly automated business world reliant upon numbers and results, we can easily forget that business is about human interaction. All of us live and experience our own, individualized world, but we forget that others also have their own world of experiences. Respecting this idea is an essential task for all of us. Therefore, what can we do to keep our humanity alive while staying competitive?

Communication is a two-way street– actively listening and understanding someone is just as important as sending a good message. Showing that you are truly interested in another’s message is astounding. It shows that you care, and you’ll strengthen the bond between you and others.

Failure to connect. As a young high school student trying to start a computer class for the Korean elderly, I had a fear that our age and cultural gap would prevent effective communication. Unfortunately, my intuition was proven right during our organization’s first few months of operation. Frustration constantly built up between the student volunteers and adults as we struggled to teach intricate subjects that were nothing but gibberish for those in their 70s and 80s. To understand the issue, I dedicated a few hours to discuss the problems with the adults.

It turned out most of the adults came to our classes for fun. I was surprised to hear that they just “wanted to feel young again” in a classroom environment and “liked the idea of having a community to join every weekend.” We were simply missing the point of these weekly classes; we only cared about what we wanted to teach and had little interest in what our students came for.

kimPost-realization. We quickly switched gears after the feedback—we scrapped the boring materials that no one cared about and started one-on-one style lessons. The volunteers walked around to make casual conversation with the adults while answering any specific computer questions catered to each person. Business boomed, local newspapers loved us, and volunteers and elders started flocking in. Our organization stayed strong for the last six years because we listened to and cared for our customers.

Lessons. When you become the leader or manager of an organization, you most likely achieved that position with a clear goal in mind. This tenacity can make opening up to new ideas much more difficult. Like I mentioned earlier, business isn’t about sending a message—it’s an interaction between people. Leaders, employees, and clients should communicate to understand each other’s thoughts and priorities. Once ideas click together, everyone will be on the same page and succeed more easily.news

As college students, many of us have spent much of our lives comparing, competing, and judging others. We aren’t at fault here; the world is increasingly cutthroat and thinking about the future is a scary thought. However, we can still learn to be both successful and mindful of others as these two traits work in conjunction with each other.

We always rely on each other and prosper as a community. We should, of course, distinguish personal and business lives, but that doesn’t mean that we should lose empathy for others depending on the occasion. If you truly put in your work for others, success can follow soon enough. Let’s learn to thrive by listening, caring, and loving ourselves and everyone else around us.

November 11, 2016 at 10:51 am Leave a comment

5 Powerful Ways to Turn Introverts into Top Performers

By Joe Pantuso

Throughout my life, I’ve heard others talk about introverts in a negative manner, speaking as though something is wrong with them: Why does he need so much alone time? Why is she so quiet? What are you always thinking about when you stare off into the distance rather than talking to me? What’s wrong with you?

There’s a one in three chance you’re an introvert. I am an introvert.

Introverts play an important role in our world; however, because we live in an extrovert’s world—loud, confidence-led—you might not even know what it means to be an introvert. You might think you’re alone in an introverted existence. You might even think of introversion as a hindrance, which is just not true.

Introverts like to keep a low profile. We’re often quiet, but not all of us are shy. We may avoid anything that remotely approaches conflict. However, introverts possess positive qualities that make us valuable employees. We like to think through things before we take action. We’re analytical by nature, and we listen to understand. We actually do enjoy social interaction and attention, but in a way that is different from extroverts. Extroverts draw energy from large social gatherings, while introverts prefer smaller settings.

Being an introvert has advantages. For example, in classroom discussions, I am engaged but slow to contribute. I hesitate because I want people to think that I have thought through my responses before speaking. As a result, when I do participate, my contributions are typically both accurate and valuable.

According to Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, up to 50 percent of all employees are introverts. Susan has started a movement called The Quiet Revolution, which celebrates and empowers introverts to embrace their quiet power. As a business leader, you ought to enable the full potential of all your employees. Leaders must ensure introverts that they have opportunities to become top performers and that they won’t be ignored in favor of their louder, more extroverted counterparts.

quietSusan Cain’s Quiet Leadership Institute helps companies and organizations empower their introverted employees by training both introverts and extroverts to communicate in a way that enhances everyone’s ability to work together. This research inspired me to create the Q.U.I.E.T. guidelines to address the needs of introverted employees.

Qualify interruptions. Reducing unnecessary interruptions will help introverted employees consistently perform at higher levels. Distractions overwhelm introverts, who are sensitive to interruptions. In the workplace, interruptions are frequent. Workers may take up to 25 minutes to get back on track when interrupted. Try to avoid interrupting your employees’ workflows unless absolutely necessary and encourage your people to avoid interrupting one another.

As an introvert, I understand the correlation between distractions and performance. I lose focus and patience when interrupted. Disruptions cause me to become irritated and aggravated, and, as a result, I become less efficient.

Utilize quiet space. According to research, 90 percent of workers say they need quiet, private places to do their work; however, more than 40 percent of workers report that they don’t have them in their workplaces. Employees, especially introverted ones, struggle to focus when the environment is noisy or coworkers are loud and rowdy. Help improve performance by providing quiet work areas where introverts can easily focus without distractions.

Today, open-plan offices are common in business. The open-office model promotes large open spaces, shared work areas, and few private offices. Despite their popularity, open-plan offices create huge problems by making work difficult for introverts. The environment damages workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction. This trend is negatively impacting the workplace.

Implement environment controls. Introverted employees are sensitive to their surroundings, and, therefore, must be able to control their environment. Noise, light, and the temperature are external factors that may affect introverts. When possible, allow introverts to change or modify their environment. Examples include light dimmers or desk lamps and thermostats or windows that open.

Establish a safe place. Establish a psychologically safe place to work for introverts. Open-office environments are not ideal for introverts because these environments tend to make them feel like the center of attention. Introverts may think that their coworkers are scrutinizing them. This scrutiny makes them anxious and uncomfortable and reduces their ability to focus and be productive. One must provide work places where others cannot constantly observe and scrutinize introverts.

I understand the value of a safe and private place to work. When I perceive others judging me, I feel self-conscious. This perception is a distraction that creates anxiety, reducing my performance and limiting my productivity.

Tolerate independence. Introverted employees work differently than extroverted ones and often need solitude during the workday. Give them permission to be alone. Solitude helps them to think more thoroughly and focus more intently on their work while mentally preparing for social interactions with customers, vendors, and coworkers. Allow introverts alone time without fear of penalty so they can function effectively.

Society expects everyone to speak up, compare experiences, and to socialize. These interactions can be difficult for introverts, who would rather spend their time alone. There is no shame in preferring solitude to socializing. We can only truly be ourselves when we’re behaving our natural way.

October 30, 2016 at 8:14 am Leave a comment

LinkedIn: Reaching Out and Taking Names

By Cassidy Rowe

I have a confession to make. I underestimated the power of LinkedIn.

Sure, I had a profile replete with detailed work experiences, extracurricular activities, skills, and a professional photo. My connections included friends, work colleagues, and acquaintances. LinkedIn even ranked my profile strength as “AllStar,” but I wasn’t truly utilizing all that LinkedIn has to offer.Rowe

LinkedIn is a wonderful resource for connecting with others in a desired industry, for learning more about someone’s experience at an internship you’re interested in, or for getting more connected with a favorite company. However, it can be easy to forget that LinkedIn is a feedback loop. It is not simply a space to showcase your resume; it is a platform on which to grow your professional network and maximize your career opportunities. In this blog, I am going to walk you through some steps that will help you do just that.

Lose the fear. If you’re like me, the idea of reaching out to total strangers can seem uncomfortable–daunting even. But isn’t that what LinkedIn is for? To connect business professionals and widen your professional circles? You must lose the misconception that your invitations to connect are unwanted or unwarranted. That being said, I advocate for strategic connections, not the mass adding of strangers just to up your number of connections. So take a deep breath and click.

Personalize your invitations. I have denied my fair share of invitations to connect from strangers because they didn’t add a personalized note to supplement their invite. With over 400 million users, you are bound to send and receive many invitations, which is why you must make yourself stand out. Add one or two sentences to personalize your invitation to connect when you do not know the requested individual. Doing so reflects well on you, and it increases your likelihood of forming a more substantial connection with that person.

Follow companies of interest. I want to work in the sport business industry. I followed companies I am interested in working for, which led to my finding a neat feature LinkedIn has: ‘People Also Viewed.” You can find this feature on the right-hand side of your screen when viewing a particular company’s profile. I’ve discovered several more companies that I have added to my list of internship possibilities through this feature. Additionally, companies often post interesting articles and job opportunities on their profiles. I cannot stress how incredible it is to connect with a preferred company on this levelwithout even talking to an employee.

Engage with groups. Another great aspect of LinkedIn is its ability to connect professionals through nonprofessional hobbies and interests. Have an affinity for paddle boarding? Join groups that discuss paddle boarding. Search through groups to find professionals that share similar interests. This helps you connect on a personal level and build a foundation on something more than work related items.

LinkedIn is an incredible platform. It is designed to help you succeed in your search for a dream job. All you have to do is reach out and take names.

November 25, 2015 at 1:47 pm 11 comments

Enhancing Tomorrow’s Interview: Four Simple Ps

By Emma Williams

We’re all familiar with the anxiety that creeps over us the night before an interview.  Whether the interview is for a summer internship or a full-time job, the encounter can be a nerve-wracking experience – one that you don’t want to mess up.

I know when I walked into my first mock-interview with Kenan-Flagler I wasn’t properly prepared.  I couldn’t even give my interviewer a brief summary of who the overall company was and its purpose.  I was embarrassed and the interviewer could clearly tell that I hadn’t done my homework.  Since my awkward experience, I’ve made sure to plan for any upcoming interviews.

William Baker in Writing and Speaking for Business (2015) establishes both how to effectively prepare for and act during an interview.  Though he sections his advice into ten main points, I have compiled his suggestions into four simple Ps that will help ensure that you’re ready for the big day.

Prepared

Do your research. You want to walk into your interview with confidence, knowing exactly who the company is and what they do.  You should know your company and who its competitors are to answer any questions that an interviewer may ask.  I follow companies on social media accounts, such as Twitter, so that I’m up-to-date on any recent news.  You should try to figure out the company’s culture by talking to past interns and current employees.  While doing so, identify the role of the company’s intern(s) and his or her duties.  If possible, find out who your interviewer is and even look him or her up on LinkedIn beforehand.Emma

Before stepping into the room, determine what you can bring to the company and what sets you apart from others.  Companies want to see why you are different and why you would be a strong addition to their team.  I try to have a list of positive characteristics, skills, or experiences that I can bring to job to help better the company.  Be sure to bring a copy of your updated resume, as well as a pen and padfolio.  Know how to respond to opening questions, such as “Tell me about yourself” and “Walk me through your resume.”  Write down questions for your interviewer that you can refer to at the end – the written questions will show that you’ve thought thoroughly about the company or job and have done some preparation.

Also, remember to expect the unexpected, such as difficult questions that are unique to the company. For example, a question that a company has asked in their interviews is “If you were stuck in a blender, how would you get out?” This question doesn’t necessarily have a correct answer and isn’t realistic at all.  The company only wants to know how you think on your feet and how you react under pressure.  Remember to take a deep breath and think about how you want to respond to these unexpected questions.  The last thing you want to do is fill your interview time with nervous “ums” and “likes.”

Punctual

Arrive on time.  Nothing is worse than walking into an interview late, flustered, and embarrassed – trust me, I’ve been late to an interview before and it’s difficult to erase someone’s first impression of you.  To avoid future tardiness, I now record the date and time that my interview is scheduled, where it will be held, and perhaps even the person who is interviewing me.  I believe applicants should arrive at their location at least 15 minutes before their interview starts.  I always make sure to have directions to the location (knowing how long it will take me to get there) to guarantee that I know how to get there and where I can park.  Before walking into your interview, make sure to turn off your cellular device.  You don’t want any distractions, such as alarms or phone calls that could disrupt your conversation.

Professional

Dress appropriately.  Before arriving, figure out what is acceptable to wear to your interview.  When in doubt, you should be over-dressed instead of under-dressed.  Most interviewers expect applicants to come in business professional attire.  For women, professional appearance means a blouse, a pair of pants or a skirt, a blazer, and heels.  For men, professional appearance requires a suit and tie.  Men should remember to shave their face, and women should wear minimal jewelry.  Both men and women should be aware of the amount of aftershave or perfume they wear, so as to not overpower the room with their scent.

Remember to speak clearly and confidently and to give your interviewer a firm handshake, while maintaining strong eye contact.  Be aware of your body language and know how your hand placement and facial expressions could be perceived.  If you don’t make eye contact during your meeting with your interviewer, he or she won’t think that you’re interested in the conversation.  I believe that an applicant should always smile while he or she speaks, unless the topic is serious.  Try to place one hand over the other and keep still – fidgeting and clenching signify that you’re nervous or anxious, rather than relaxed and confident.  After looking over videos of myself presenting in class, I’ve noticed how distracting my fidgeting is, and I’ve made an effort to keep still while speaking – less fidgeting has enabled me as well as my viewers to focus on what I’m actually saying.  Additionally, ask your interviewer for his or her contact information, such as an email, so that you can follow-up with a brief thank you note.  From experience I’ve noticed that interviewers appreciate the time taken to reach out to them for taking the time to meet with you, and they want to see that you’re actually interested in pursuing the position.

Passionate

Show that you want the position, and be yourself.  The interviewer and you are both trying to figure out whether or not you will be a good fit at this company.  Strengthen your chances of getting hired by being YOU and selling yourself as the perfect candidate.  Remember to be honest and engaged during the entire interview.   Express your interest in the industry and, more specifically, the company.  Tailor your responses to appeal to the interviewer and demonstrate how your abilities, experiences, and passion for this job will outshine other applicants.  In my experience interviewing, I have found that telling your story of how you became interested in business, a specific industry, and especially the company you’re interviewing for, will definitely help the interviewer get to know you even more and give him or her reason to remember you.

At the end of the interview make sure that you have a strong close.  You want to display how much you want the job, how much you’ve appreciated the time that your interviewer spent by meeting you that day, and how much you hope to have the opportunity to bring your abilities to the company. Also, give another confident handshake as you leave the meeting.  Don’t forget to send your interviewer an email afterwards!

By considering these four Ps (prepared, punctual, professional, and passionate), you’ll be ready for any interview that’s coming your way. Now go get ready to impress your next interviewer!

 

November 23, 2015 at 7:40 am 8 comments

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