Tuesday, November 9, 2010


One of the most important responsibilities as a college student is finding amazing internships and employment opportunities. In order to land awesome career opportunities over the summer, during the semester, or after graduation, your specs must be, for lack of a better word, SEXY. Your potential employers will glance over your cover letter, see that you’re somewhat interesting, and decide to give you a chance to impress them through your resume. Your resume, then, is the chance to show the potential employers a small taste of who you are, what you can bring to the table, and why you’re the best meat on the market. Afterwards, if you’ve done a good job convincing them that you’re a ticking rainmaker just waiting to make bank, they’ll offer you a snippet of their busy schedule to impress them even more. The interview is the most crucial point of the whole excruciating process in which you have to convey your sexiness (and not physically, but you know what I mean).

So, in a nutshell, the purpose of the cover letter is to entice the employer enough to look at your resume. The purpose of the resume is to impress the employer enough to land you an interview. And the interview is the deal-breaker.

There are literally thousands and thousands of interview questions out there, and it’s impossible to coach you through them all and prepare you for everything. But, there is a very consistent pattern that serves as the backbone of almost all phone interview and face-to-face interviews. The tips below serve only as the tip of the iceberg—do your share of the research about interviews, and you will land some of the most sought-after jobs that even your parents couldn’t envision.

Phone Interviews
These are very tricky since you can’t impress the employers with your fashion sense or good looks. Phone Interviews are usually precursor to a second round of interviews, which are face-to-face. In essence, phone interview is a great way for a potential employer to distinguish between those who really want the job and those who don’t. So what are some important points to remember?

1.      Know your employer. Google the company profile, learn about their strengths and weaknesses, find out what kind of employee they’re looking for. You can also find interview questions that they will most likely ask you, and these are for the most part posted online by people who went through the process. If you’re doing a phone interview, print out a bunch of company profile information or just notes about the company. Either spread them out on a table to gain easy access to information quickly so that you’re prepared with lots of ammunition. Don’t sit in front of your computer—interviewers can actually hear you typing on your keyboard and will consider you lazy.

2.      Know yourself. Many people forget to do this, but have a copy of your cover letter and resume in front of you. This is because you’re seeing what your interviewer is seeing. If your interviewer is asking a question about your experience at a job that you’ve had, then having your resume as a reference in front of you will help you a lot. Almost every internship and job interview that I’ve done began with a “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” This is where you can make a quick elevator-speech about who you are. It’s almost guaranteed that your chance at this job will be decided based on this speech, so prepare and practice.

3.      Tell stories. Always have quick 60-120 second stories handy. For example, don’t tell them that you have leadership experiences and that you’re a great leader. Tell them a short story about how you took the initiative to lead a group of peers during hardship. Telling stories to answer questions is a fantastic way to show your personality, too. While answering questions via story-telling, be sure to include what happened, what you did, what the result was, and what you learned. You can definitely use stories in which you failed or made a mistake as long as you can turn it around by explaining how much you grew from the experience. If you’re doing a phone interview, have a bunch of these stories ready-to-go on paper so that you don’t have to try to memorize them all.

4.      Be yourself. I can’t stress this point enough because trying to wear a mask during an interview will show very easily. For instance, if you’re not extraverted, that’s okay! If you’re not a math whiz, that’s okay! If you’re nervous, that’s okay! These can actually help you on your interview. Tell them you’re actually an introvert, but you thrive when working assiduously on your own and when plowing through boring work that people hate. Tell them that your math skills are pretty embarrassing, but you’re a quick learner and if the job requires math skills, you’re willing to go the extra mile to accomplish goals while others will be content with mediocre work. Tell them you’re nervous because you’ve always dreamed of working for that company, and you’re just very excited to be so close to achieving your vision.

5.      Think positive, be positive. What you say does not matter as much as how you say it, which is to say that your attitude matters most. You can be prepared going into an interview, but your attitude is the first thing that employers see before you even open your mouth. So, SMILE. Show them you want to be there and you want the job. Did you know interviewers can actually hear smiles? It’s true. What you say will come across much more sincerely and positively if you smile when you’re on the phone.

6.      Act as if. This is one of my favorite quotes that I live by in all aspects of life. This quote doesn’t mean you should lie or be pretentious. Rather, act as if you already got the job and show some confidence! Act as if you are the CEO of the company and dress the part! And act as if you came prepared to the interview—this will most definitely shine.

7.      Ask questions. One of the worst mistakes that interviewees make is not asking questions at the end of the interview. If you don’t have any questions, make something up before the interview because lack of question almost always means lack of interest. Obviously, you shouldn’t ask about vacation days or salary, but otherwise, this is where you get to interview the interviewer. So, be curious and take interest. For example: How did you begin your career here? How do you like it? Are there good advancement opportunities? What can I expect in terms of learning about the overall corporation? Will I learn about other departments as well? How has this company responded to the economy in the past two years? And such and such….

8.      Take notes. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a phone interview or a face-to-face interview. Have a pen and paper ready to jot down notes. You can also write down questions that come to mind in the middle of the interview. Whatever the case, having a pen and paper shows that you’re always prepared and that you’re always ready to learn something new.

Of course, there are hundreds of more interview related hints, tips and tricks that I direly want to tell you. If you’re very serious about learning more about interviews or job applications in general, feel free to reach out to me or the KSA Board! Godspeed.

By: David J Kim

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