More Advice on How to Ace that Interview!

Graduation can mean interviewing mistakes

Graduation can mean interviewing mistakes

It seems to me that there is a lot of advice out there telling you how to shape your resume, how to interview, how to handle your money, how to find a job, how to, how to, how to…  There is also an awful lot of information on what the organization to which you are applying for work is looking for from you. Hmmm.

Last week in the Wall Street Journal, there was an article written by a graduating senior on how to prepare yourself for an interview, “Job Tips for Astute College Seniors” written by David L. Pierce from the University of Arkansas’ Sam M. Walton College of Business.  Here is an excerpt from that article, which was printed on March 17th:

To my fellow generation of entitled adult adolescents who expect a $75,000 salary if they’re going to get up before 10 a.m., here’s some advice, which you won’t hear from your college career center:  

  • Don’t wear a black suit to an interview. Spend some money and buy the best one or two suits you can afford. Look for a gray or navy suit.
  • Practice social situations that make you nervous. (Here Mr. Pierce suggests you go to a bar and try to pick up a girl (or a guy) to practice hearing the word, “No!”
  • Get your e-mail off of .edu and onto gmail…it’s more professional
  • If you receive a business card from interviewers, make a note on the back on who this person is and what he or she does in the firm
  • If you are networking in a company and you don’t know the contact info for the person you’re hoping to network with, search for the e-mail settings for that company or try a phone call (you can use that little gadget on which you search the web or send a text to actually make a phone call!)
  • Re-set your Facebook and LinkedIn pages to be more professional. Insert a presentable photo.
  • Assume that you will be Googled or Binged. Clean them up!
  • Write a thank you note after the interview. E-mail or actually use a pen and the U.S. mail!

With all due respect, while good information, there’s really nothing new or revolutionary in Mr. Pierce’s presentation.  Later that week, a company CEO wrote a response to Mr. Pierce’s article and here’s what he had to say:

  • A thoughtful employer is looking for significant traits that complement the company’s workforce.
  • A person seeking a job would be advised to learn about the business world and the particular niche that the company to which you are applying occupies.
  • The candidate must be able to articulate the reasons why and how he would make a contribution to the success of the firm without appearing boastful or arrogant. This discussion will occur only when the candidate has some preparation and information about the company.
  • Clean up Facebook and LinkedIn and seriously prepare for an interview by thinking about how you can contribute to a company’s success.

Again, with all due respect here, there’s nothing new or revolutionary in this response either.

So what am I saying?  Our firm, Campus To Corporate, LLC provides excellent, proven coaching from both the candidate’s viewpoint and the organization’s expectations.  The bottom line is that finding a job is a lot of work.  It seems that today’s lists of candidates are not necessarily up to the task of doing the work required, not out of an unwillingness, but it goes back to ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ and if that’s the case, one’s ‘preparation’ is never going to be of the sort that gets them looked at or recognized. 

Let’s use a sports analogy or two: Major League baseball players spend an average of six weeks in Spring Training sharpening their skills.  Professional football players – as well as most other professional sports teams put in the same amount of work: training camp followed by in-season work up to 5 days a week of practice followed by game day.

It’s a lot of work. Jim Cramer of “Mad Money” advocates that investors do not buy and sell.  Rather, they ‘should buy and do their homework.’  Who wants to hear about doing homework?  Especially, people who are approaching graduation!  But this is the only way anything good will be accomplished.  How many times have you heard someone who’s preparing to make a presentation or give a speech say, “I’ll wing it?” Aggghhhhh!!??  As a public speaker, winging it, that is, going on up to the lectern having not prepared anything is temptingly close to professional suicide.  Imagine going in for surgery performed by a doctor who was going to ‘wing it!?’  Would you want that person working on you?  I know I sure wouldn’t.

So what am I saying?  That today’s generation of job seekers is lazy?  That they don’t want to put in the time it takes to land an interview followed by landing a job?  Maybe.  Perhaps misguided is a better term.  So many come out of school and just wait until they hear back from the companies they have contacted.  Some years ago I attended the Commencement Exercises of one of the premier graphics arts schools in the United States.  If I heard one time how great each graduate was and how fortunate companies will be to hire one of you, I heard it a hundred times.  I watched a couple of graduates literally sit at home and wait until they came-a-callin’. After a few months of not hearing anything, they took jobs that they felt were beneath their skills level and – they would never say this out loud- beneath their talent levels.  A few months later, they were employed but not making the millions they expected.  Then they started complaining that they were deep in debt and were wondering if they even needed to go to college in the first place. It never occurred t them that they might want to pick up a part-time job to start paying off their debt. Noooo.

I think it’s epidemic.  There are jobs out there.  But it takes work and effort.  We’ll tell you that and we’ll support you and we’ll coach you to keep at it.

Everyone knows that graduation ceremonies are called Commencement Exercises.  And everyone knows that commencement means “Beginning.”  So, here’s a call to arms, of a sort, Commence your job search.  It’s out there.  But only if you start and keep at it.


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