College success tips

Sadie Ward graduated with a double majors in BA Theatre Studies and BFA Arts Adminstration. In addition to being the Human Resources Cooridnator at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, she also works as a freelance theatre designer.

I work a midsized non-profit that has a Human Resources Department of two. Working in a small Human Resources Department has given me the opportunity to work with a variety of hiring manager for a variety full-time, part-time, and internship positions. These are some interview tips, that can help you prepare for an interview regardless of the position.

General tips
Some small adjustments can make you stand out from other applicants.
• Research the company before your interview. You want to show you are interested in the company, and can sustain and engaging and informed conversation regarding the company.
• Have questions prepared. If offered, this is your opportunity to ask questions too! This is as much of a decision for you as it is for the hiring manager and company. You may thank yourself if you discover a fact about the company that you find unsavory.
o Is this a new positions, or a back fill positions?
o Can you tell me more about the structure of the department?
o What do you view as the challenges for someone in this position?
o Can you tell me about the culture of this organization?
• Practice tough interview questions. It’s obvious when a question catches someone off guard. There are some standard questions you can prepare for, even if they are asked slightly differently.
o Can you tell me about a professional failure and how you came back from it?
o Can you tell me about a conflict from a co-worker and how you resolved it.
o Have you ever had to work under a policy that you didn’t agree with?
o Why are you looking for a change in employment?
• Don’t be on time, be early. It is never a good practice to show up late to an interview. If you are late for a legitimate unexpected reason, apologize and explain. If you have a true emergency and the company doesn’t understand, you probably don’t want to work for them any ways. However, always remember, if you are interviewing around 11:00am, you are probably interviewing right before someone’s lunch. You don’t want to make a hungry hiring manager late to lunch.
• Don’t be nervous. Remember that the person you are interviewing with also had to interview for the position they have. We have all been in interviews, there is no reason to be nervous. Nothing is more uncomfortable than struggling through an interview with an extremely nervous candidate.
• Don’t interview for a position you wouldn’t actually accept. There is nothing more frustrating going through an entire interview process, and having a candidate decline because they ‘applied on a whim.’ Don’t waste people’s time, time is valuable.

Not all interviews are the same. There are different types of interviews that require different preparation.

• Phone Interviews
Phone interviews can make an interview process more time efficient and save gas money.
o Make sure you are in an area with good phone reception, and your phone is well charged.
o Don’t interview in a public area, find a nice quite room by yourself.
o Interview in front of a mirror to maintain eye contact with yourself. This affects the inflection of your voice to be more conversational, rather than staring at the floor.
• Skype Interview tips
Technology can be your friend in long distance interview situations, but it can also be your foe when ill prepared.
o Have a professionally appropriate Skype user name.
o Tell your roommate you have an interview scheduled, you don’t want them to unknowingly walk around in the background and distract from your interview.
o If this is the first time you are setting up a Skype Interview, do a practice conversation with a friend.
o Don’t trust wifi – have a back up wire connection, just in case.
• In Person Interview tips
You always want to make a good first impression.
o It’s alright to ask for the structure of your interview before it happens so you know what to expect.
o Your interview starts when you step foot on company property, be nice to everyone you meet.
o Dress one level above the position you are interviewing for.
o Always bring extra copies of your resume, just in case someone is rushing from another meeting to make it to your interview and forgot your materials on their desk.
o If you are interviewing at a company that has multiple locations, make sure you have the correct address and make sure you know where you are parking ahead of time.
o Have the contact information of your company contact easily accessible in your phone, just in case (noticing the theme).
• Panel Interviews
If you know ahead of time that you are interviewing multiple people, you will want to prepare differently.
o Maintain eye contact with everyone, even if only one person is asking questions.
o Send thank you notes to everyone involved.

And always remember that regardless of the type of interview you have set up, you are dealing with humans on the other side of your interview. Like it or not, even the person conducting the interview can make mistakes, because that is what humans do. If your Human Resources contact, or hiring manager makes an honest mistake, graciously let it pass. Sometimes when the person conducting the interview makes a reasonable mistake and see that the applicant rolls with, it can be insightful in how that person adapts or handles mistakes in the work place.

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