1. PrepareThis is pretty simple advice. Probably something you already know you should do, but don't necessarily do it or give it the time it deserves. If you want the job, do your homework. Research the job (i.e., community support worker), the organization (#3 below), and list what you bring to the job (#4). That part is just gathering data. This is what you do before you practice answering questions. Writing out your qualifications is not the same as articulating them in an interview.
Onet is one online resource that allows you to search occupations to find out required skills, abilities, and knowledge, education/credentials, work activities, work context, related occupations, and salary and employment trends. Have a look.
You should also look up common interview questions. Here is a Forbes article on the Top 50 Most Common Interview Questions. The list is fairly generic. You can search for other lists. Consider making sure you are comfortable with Behavioral Interviewing questions. This type of question asks you to explain what you do or would do in specific situations. The interviewer is trying to learn about how you think and then respond in work situations. Here is a Top 10 Behavioral Interviewing Questions article for About Careers.
2. Know your audienceYour audience, that person who is interviewing you, is not in your head. They don't know what you know about you. Make sure when you describe experiences and your skills that you give them enough information to appreciate them. So often in classroom assignments and mock interviews student expect the teacher or the interviewer to connect the dots rather than making an argument. In a mock interview or a real one, your job is to make an argument connecting your experiences and skills to the job description or organization's mission so it is clear that you are a strong candidate for the job.
An example of forgetting your audience is sharing that you interned at The Next Step and then not explaining what The Next Step is (a domestic violence project that provides service to families experiencing domestic violence, trainings on domestic violence, and advocacy and prevention programs) or how your experience there helped you develop skills or knowledge that is transferable to the job that you are applying for. Connect the dots for the interviewer. Don't assume they will do it for you.
3. Understand the job and the organizationDo your homework to understand the job expectations, qualifications, and as much about the organization as possible. This will help you be clearer when arguing that you are a strongly qualified candidate. If you can reflect back some of their language or values or ask questions that show you took an interest in understanding the organization, you sound thoughtful and diligent. Also, you may have relevant experience that doesn't seem related to the job.
4. Make your pitch (as in sales pitch)Think of that first open-ended "Why are you interested in this job?" question as a prompt for you to make 1) a good first impression and 2) an argument as to why they should hire you. By argument, I mean your organizing your thoughts in order to persuade someone or to make your point clear. Do the work for your interviewer. If you are experienced in that field or that role, don't coast assuming that your experience will speak for itself. Explain why you are a strong candidate for the job. If you are new with less experience in the field or that role, your argument will explain how you are prepared in light of not having much formal experience.
5. Don't assume your degree means anything to anyone. Highlight what you want them to know.Our program is unique. Psychology & Community Studies does not explain itself. People think they know what psychology as a discipline is, but they have no idea what community studies is or what they are when you put them together. Frankly, even if you have a Psychology major or English major or Chemistry major, you still need to explain how your college experience prepared you for the specific job. I'm not saying just list relevant classes or your minor. Think though assignments, courses, general skills, experiences at conference, research experiences, service-learning experiences and more and then explain the most relevant pieces and how they prepare you for this particular job. Our degree is very malleable in description. Explain it to your advantage, which will depend on the specifics of the job. Make sure to make the most out of highlighting your senior project.
6. Have questions for the person who is interviewing you.When you have questions ready for your interviewer it makes you look prepared, thoughtful, and thorough. Granted, the content of your questions matter. So consider what your questions will communicate about you.
7. PRACTICE. Out loud. Alone or with a friend role playing with you.Not kidding here. I see students come to class with well organized notes and still end up with a choppy, discombobulated interview. Gathering information and thinking about it is necessary, but not sufficient. You need to practice saying the words. I prefer the pace-talk-out-loud-by-myself method (at home of course). You can also ask a friend to role play with you. Or ask Career Services (Jo-Ellen Scribner) or someone at your local Career Center if they will practice with you and give you feedback. Repetition is the point here. That way your are more likely to answer smoothly during the interview. It also can also help decrease your anxiety for the real interview.
8. Get feedback and use it.Along with practice, get feedback and utilize it. You want feedback from someone from whom you can accept constructive criticism. Don't choose your best friend if they are going to pump you up with praise and avoid telling you what you need to improve. This does not help. It is good to know what you are doing well in an interview, but it is even more important to know what you can do to strengthen your interviewing skills.
|Does this picture not scream stock-picture?|
9. PRACTICE more.Not kidding. If you want the job or admission into that grad program, do the work.
10. Understand that not getting a job is not necessarily a reflection on you. Though it may be. And you won't get to know.This is a tough one: if you don't get the job, you don't get to know why. You have to remember that applying for jobs is competitive, and you don't know who else applied. You might not have had enough experience or someone might have had more. Someone else make have had a proverbial toe-in-the-door (which is what you folks have after a good internship experience because your internship site knows you and has already trained you). And you may not have presented yourself as well as you could have. You don't get to know. Please do not take not getting a job or into grad school too hard. Apply again if you have the opportunity. After realizing I applied to teach at UMM twice, a friend was shocked that I applied the second time. She thought I should have gotten the message and have been upset about being "rejected". I figured I needed more experience teaching to look like a viable candidate (I did) and that if I applied a second time that I would already be familiar (which generally works in your favor provided you didn't make a bad impression the first time.)
Links to Resources:
Career Centers are all over Maine and their are similar resources all over the country. Generally their services are free. Use them! There are two in Washington County, ME (Machias and Calais).
Maine Career Center
Find Jo Ellen Scribner :)
University of Maine Career Services