Career Planning and Development gives interview advice

While getting a job interview is important, making sure to prepare for it is vital.

Students should practice interview questions beforehand, said Jennifer Smith, assistant director of Career Planning and Development.

“Practice using specific examples and drawing from your experiences,” she said. “(Employers) don’t just want to know that you’re hard-working and dependable — they want to know how, based off a real-life example or a story.”

Smith said she suggests using because it gives specialized questions for each job. She also said Career Planning and Development offers free mock interviews, which allow students to practice responses.

When going to the interview, students should bring multiple copies of their resume and a portfolio because they might have more than one interviewer, Smith said.

Bill Huddleston, professor of communication, said bringing these items can give the student a leg-up against the competition.

“If someone asks, ‘Why should I hire you?’ The student should say, ‘I have a resume or portfolio, and I would love to show it to you,’” he said. “It puts the interviewer in your court and makes them ask questions about areas you are strong in.”

Smith also said to take a pen and a notepad so any instructions given in the interview can be written down.

When dressing for the interview, appropriate attire depends on the field, but it is always best to dress conservatively, Smith said. She recommends women wear a suit jacket with a camisole or collared shirt, matching dress pants and short heels or flats to reduce the chances of stumbling.

If a student does not have interview attire, he or she can check out clothing from Career Planning and Development’s Career Closet, which is equipped with male and female clothing including suits, ties and shoes, Smith said.

Students can get a feel for what to wear by seeing what current employees wear to the job, Huddleston said.

“I would scout the place, see what people wear on a typical workday and dress one level above that,” he said.

Senior Eddie St. Hilaire said he learned about the importance of dressing for the interview from a guest speaker at an ROTC program.

“In my last interview, I got the job because I came in with business attire on, and everyone else was wearing T-shirts,” he said. “I think how you’re dressed is one of the most important parts of the interview.”

When going to interviews, students should arrive 10-15 minutes early, Smith said. Arriving any earlier will put pressure on the interviewer to hurry with tasks they might already be involved in.

Huddleston said since the student received an interview, the company already finds him or her qualified.

“They want to know if you’re who they want to work with,” he said. “They want to see if you fit with everyone else. Watch any of their nonverbal cues to see how they feel during the interview, and watch your own hand gestures and posture.”

Senior Connie Rodriguez said she advises students to be honest in their interviews.

“I always try to be myself, and I try to do the best I can,” she said. “Being honest and putting forth the skills you have will definitely help in any interview.”

Even if the student has practiced questions, slip-ups might occur, Smith said.

“Most interviewers realize we are humans and make mistakes,” she said. “It’s usually OK to ask them if you can go back and add something to a previous question. Sometimes they’ll ask you if you would like to say something else, and that’s a chance also to add to a response.”