Reflecting on Residency

The D’Amore-McKim Graduate Career Center just hosted the annual residency reflection event.  Second year students who recently completed their June – December corporate residencies were all back on campus to share their experiences.

This event gives second year students an opportunity to learn what their colleagues were doing on residency.  For first year students, it provides valuable interview preparation as they will soon be interviewing for many of these same positions.  Faculty and staff also attended to learn more about the students’ residency experiences.

Our employers provide rich learning experiences for our students and the students make significant contributions in their six months on the job.  The personal and professional growth of the students was in full display at the residency reflection event.  The value of experiential education was on full display.

Congratulations to the Class of 2017 for their outstanding work on residency and thanks to the employers who provided such valuable experiences for them.

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Tips for a Successful Interview

Great news, from the mountain of applicants for the position, they found your resume and the recruiter has called you for an interview.  Bad news, you are a bundle of nerves about the interview.  How can you survive this process and land the job you want?  Whether you are new to the job market or a seasoned professional, you need to prepare to be successful on your interview.

Keep Your Perspective

  • Allow yourself to feel good about being selected for the interview.  Clearly they saw something in your resume and cover letter that makes them want to invest time to get to know more about you.  This is great news and should give you confidence.
  • Remember, the interviewer wants you to succeed.  The recruiters are anxious to find qualified candidates they can send to the hiring manager.  If the interview goes well, you’ve made their job easier. Hiring managers want someone who can do the job and that they will enjoy working with over time.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

  • The more prepared you are for the interview, the easier it will be to manage your anxiety.
  • Review the job description carefully.  Have examples of work you have done that demonstrates your ability to perform in this new job.  If it is something you have never done before, share an example of how quickly you learned new aspects of your current job.
  • Research the company and the people you will be meeting ahead of time.  Have specific thoughtful questions prepared that you can ask your interviewer.  Demonstrate that you have done your homework.
  • Get a good night’s sleep the night before.  Don’t go to the interview on an empty stomach and stay hydrated.
  • Spend time with a friend or family member prior to the interview.  Tell them why you would be the best person for the job.  Before you can convince the interviewer, you need to convince yourself.  Go in feeling confident.
  • Identify sample interview questions and think about your answers in advance.  Don’t memorize them but feel confident about how you want to answer typical questions.
  • Have examples prepared for behavioral questions.  Be prepared to summarize the situation, identify the actions you took and the results of those actions.  You can find sample behavioral questions online for reference.
  • Picture yourself confidently presenting your job-related skills and answering the questions clearly and effectively.
  • Be sure you know where you are going and allow plenty of time to get there.

Focus

  • Arrive a few minutes early.  Use the waiting time to collect your thoughts and gather your confidence.  If you get sweaty palms, use the rest room to wash your hands.
  • Treat everyone you come in contact with at the company as if they have the authority to hire you.  You never know who will be asked for input.
  • Greet the interviewer with a smile and enthusiastic greeting.  Let them know you are happy to be there and are excited about the opportunity.
  • Maintain eye contact and listen carefully.
  • Take quiet deep breaths through your nose and exhale slowly through your nose to stay calms and focused.
  • If necessary, admit that you are feeling nervous.  Sometimes it helps relieve stress to verbalize it and the interviewer may have empathy.  Frame it as “Despite all my preparation, I still feel nervous because I’m so very interested in this opportunity.”
  • Ask if you can take notes, sometimes it helps relieve stress to be doing something.  Capture just high level points.
  • Stay in the moment – this is the best place for you to be at this time.  Don’t worry about anything else and don’t worry about next steps.  Stay focused on the interview.
  • Be a confident YOU.  Don’t try to be someone you are not.

Follow Up

  • Thank the interviewer for their time.  Reinforce your strong interest in the opportunity and ask about next steps.
  • Send a handwritten thank you note within 24 hours.  If the process is moving quickly send an email thank you as well.

 

Testing Your Interview Skills

While it is important to do your research on the company as you prepare for your interviews, it is also critical that you prepare yourself.  There is nothing like practice sitting across the desk from someone you have never met before, answering their questions and selling yourself for the job to truly prepare you for success in your interviews.

At the D’Amore-McKim Graduate Career Center we utilize mock interviews to give students this valuable live experience and feedback.  Students arrive in the Career Center at the appointed time in their business suits and are called into the interview room by one of our guest mock interviewers.  We utilize experience business professionals to conduct our mock interviews so students experience the wide range of interview styles while gaining experience in selling themselves to a stranger.  An interview with a staff member would just not be the same since we see them every day.

Mock interviewers ask a series of informational and behavioral questions to assess the students’ readiness for success in their interviews.  Our guest interviewers provide feedback to the students to help them improve their interviews.  We also record the sessions so students can view their interview and the feedback to help them address specific issues identified for improvement.

We also utilize guest interviewers to conduct telephone mock interviews with students.  While students initially consider phone interviews much easier, they quickly realize how much of communication is not verbal.  Without seeing the interviewers’ body language and facial expressions it is much harder to gauge how they are reacting to your responses.  Again, the interviewers provide valuable feedback to the students.

With the benefit of in-person and telephone mock interviews and feedback, our students are better prepared to successfully interview for the positions they desire and to land the job.  At any stage of your career, practicing your interview skills prior to a critical interview can significantly increase your likelihood of success.

Connect the Dots with a Customized Cover Letter

A customized cover letter is the only tool available for the hiring manager reviewing applicants to specifically link the requirements in the job description to the experience in the resume.  Overlooking the cover letter in the job search process is a risky move since it is your best sales tool.  If the job is worth applying to, it is worth writing a customized cover letter.

At Northeastern’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business MBA Career Center, we work closely with our students to help them learn to write effective, customized cover letters.  An effective cover letter identifies your transferable skills and addresses how you will meet the needs of the employer.  Don’t assume that they can connect the dots between their needs and your experience.  Clearly show them what you bring to the table for this position.

Students prepare practice cover letters and receive feedback from their advisors.  They also prepare cover letters for their mock interviews and receive additional feedback from their mock interviewers.  A generic or template cover letter will not effectively address the specific needs of the employer and should never be used.  Highlighting the key requirements in the job description and the relevant skills on your resume can visually identify the areas of focus for your customized cover letter.

For the hiring manager, the cover letter also acts as a writing sample.  Be sure you have no grammatical or spelling errors.  Be sure you have the name of the company and the position listed correctly.  Demonstrate your professional communication skills by delivering a targeted, customized, professional cover letter.

A cover letter will not likely land you the job but it can definitely get you an interview which is the goal.  Get the interview so you have an opportunity to sell yourself.