Volume 92, Issue 81

Wednesday, March 3, 1999


Keep cool in the summer

Impressing the suits for that all important test

Impressing the suits for that all important test

By Ciara Rickard
Gazette Staff

Imagine yourself a couple of months from now – it is May, spring is in full swing, exams and essays are just a sad, distant memory and it is time to have fun. The bad news? It is also time to get a job.

Once you have overcome the first hurdle – getting an interview – it is time to prepare for the hard part, the interview itself. Students may inexperienced in this area, which can lead to problems.

It is important to be prepared, says Sandy Dengler, career counsellor for the Student Development Centre. "You should research the employer and research the position so that you know what the position requires and what the employer is looking for.

"There are many ways to do that – through print materials, looking stuff up on the internet, talking to people who are currently in like positions," she adds.

Josephine Racioppo, recruitment officer for the Career Foundation, human resource specialists based in Toronto agrees, noting most employers like applicants who have researched the company. She says background checks are important and easy to do.

Appearance is also important. "Employers look for people who are well groomed, well dressed," Racioppo says. "Look happy to be there, speak clearly, use good grammar and don't use slang. Be energetic and maintain eye contact." She adds it is important not to chew gum during the interview.

Racioppo says interviews have become based more on behaviour questions. The skills and background come through in the resume and part of the interview, but more importantly, employers are looking for someone with the right attitude and personality profile.

"Probably one of the most important things I can tell you is do not put down your last employer or work," Racioppo says. "No one wants to hire someone who's aggressive or confrontational."

Try not to rehearse your answers, Racioppo says. Employers are trying to find out about you and your background, so there are no right answers. When people come across as having all the right answers, she says, it almost sounds rehearsed, which tends to make interviewers suspicious.

"I think applicants tend to inflate themselves a little on the resume, but through the interview you can figure out what they're hiding," Racioppo says. "It's not to your advantage to be dishonest because it's a sure ticket to get your application in the trash can."

Dengler notes most students have limited experience, so employers are going to hire based on general skills rather than specialist skills.

"When they ask if you have good decision making skills, don't just say 'yes.' Explain, give examples," Dengler says. "It doesn't just have to be work related – a skill, is a skill, is a skill."

Employers are getting more creative in terms of how they interview, Dengler says. The days of "tell me about yourself" are long since gone and employers are digging deeper to find out who they're taking on.

"If you've done your research, you'll show the employer you've done your homework and you're keen," she says. "You don't need to be in control, but keep it interactive."

It's important to keep in mind that it's not only the verbal answers you give which will impress but also body language, says Karen Scully, office manager and permanent consultant for Hunt Personnel/Temporarily Yours.

"Shake hands," she stresses. "A firm handshake shows you're confident. Have stock answers for questions like 'what's the worst thing about you?' and be prepared to answer it and use it to your advantage."

If you really want to impress the employer after the interview, then follow up with a note to thank the interviewer for their time and the opportunity to interview for such a great company, Scully says. An interviewee's name will then stand out over many others.

To Contact The Focus Department:

Copyright The Gazette 1999