Say Thank You

There is one key step in the interview process many people seem to forget. They concentrate on the questions and what to wear then breathe a sigh of relief when it is over. But it is not over! After the interview there is the thank you note. This key piece of paper can help you get the dream job you want so much. It allows you the opportunity to thank the interviewer for the interview and let them know one more time why you would make the best person for the position. The thank you letter could be the tipping factor in the decision process for some.

So now that you know you should really, really write one here are some facts/tips to guide you.

  • Send the thank you letter within 24 to 48 hours of the interview. This will keep you fresh in the interviewer’s thoughts plus you want them to get it before they make a decision.
  • Your thank you can either be typed, written, or emailed. Choosing which one is a judgment call. If you want a formal letter go with typed, personal hand written, and email if you know the person prefers that type of contact.
    • If it is hand written remember to write legible. If the interviewer cannot read your writing the letter will loose its value as a tool to promote yourself.
  • Your thank you letter does not have to be on fancy paper or cards. You can buy nice thank you cards at Wal-mart or other similar stores at a low cost. Just make sure your cards are professional looking and do not feature the cute bunny rabbit motif.

Check out these links to find more tips on writing a thank you letter.

Do you have any other tips or suggestions about writing thank you notes?

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Interviews 101: Clothes

Clothes make the man (or woman). Have you ever heard that statement? In most cases this is not true-we are not who we are because of the clothes we wear, but in the interview it is the case. When meeting the employer for the first time our clothes convey an unspoken statement about ourselves. With the right clothes you can say a lot of positive things to your employer, but with the wrong clothes you can say goodbye to your dream job. Martin Yate, writer of “Knock ‘em Dead” a great book to guide you in the job search, sums it up perfectly. “When you dress like a professional, you are likely to be treated as one, and that’s a good head start to give yourself without saying a word” (Knock ‘em Dead, p120). Here are some simple rules to help you decide what to wear for the interview.

Rule 1: Be Conservative (everyone). While at heart you may be the most liberal minded person, you are trying to get a job-not speak out about your personal beliefs through you style of dress. When thinking conservative clothing, think about neutral colors like black, navy, gray, or white, though I would suggest avoiding the white leisure suit. No bright colors, so no hot pinks or teals or purples. You do not want the employer to focus so much on your suit that they are not even listening to you because you chose to wear that purple suit with the black wing tip shoes. Not a good choice.

Rule 2: For the Men When choosing your interview attire remember to keep a professional image in mind. This includes a suit (2 or 3 button), a nice tie, matching shoes (preferably in leather), and a solid or small patterned shirt. Always make sure that your suit fits and does not sag or is to tight. If you do not have a suit you can buy an reasonably priced one from any of the local department stores. Make sure your tie and shirt match your suit. No animal or art inspired ties. Remember to stay conservative.

Rule 3: For the Women Ladies your rules are very similar to the men’s but with a few additions. Women should try to go with skirted suits versus a pant suit. Skirts are the most conservative for women, but if you only have a pant suit do not panic, it is not the end of the world or your job prospect. The skirt of your suit should rest at or just above your knee. It is a nice length that allows you movement but does not show too much leg. Also check the length when you sit down. If it crawls to far up your legs go for another suit.

Rule 4: Jewelry (for everyone)

Again keep it conservative. Only women should wear earrings. Sorry guys leave them at home. For women the earrings should be small and not flashy. No other body piercing should be visible. Rings: only one per hand. And women if you wear a necklace keep it simple. If you have a question about a piece of jewelry better to err on the side of caution and not wear it.

There are a lot of other rules written and unwritten that you should consider when dressing for your interview. Click here for more information about Interview attire at the Virginia Tech’s Career Services. For more tips please go to the Career Center website or visit our office and peruse our reading material.

Do you have any interview clothing stories or tips?

Reference: Yate, Martin. Knock ‘em Dead. Avon, MA: Adams Media. 2006. (This book and others are located in the Career Center library).

Defining Your Brand

The interview process is much like the marketing pitch of a salesman. He is trying to make his product stand out among the competitors. So like the salesman, you need to make sure your product, You, stands out among the other applicants. In order to do this you must be aware of what you have to offer the employer, this is called Defining Your Brand. Discover what it is about you that will set you apart from the other applicants.

One way to define yourself is the level of your passion for the job. I always say a person who loves their job will do 10 times better than a person who just does their job well. By showing employers that you have a passion for the job, they will feel your excitement and want to work with you so much more.

A second way to define your brand is when you answer the question: Why should we hire you? As a potential employee you do not want to give a grocery list of your qualifications. This is boring and not very original. Answering this question correctly gives you the opportunity to standout to the employer. You can focus on the following things: your passion for the work, how you can benefit the company, and how the company or position is the right fit for you.

Monster.com has a great article about Defining Your Brand. Check it out and discover more ways to stand out against the crowd.

The Top 10 Ways to Bomb a Job Interview

10. You do not send a Thank You note after the interview.

A great way to emphasize your enthusiasm for the position and to subtly remind the interviewer of you otherwise they may forget. For tips on writing a thank you note click here.

9. You dress in causal clothes (flip flops, tennis shoes, jeans, etc.)

 

Remember this is a job interview not a day at the beach or a shopping excursion. Dress the part you want to be hired for. The interviewer needs to be able to picture you in their company.

8. You do not ask questions.

By asking questions about the position, office atmosphere, company culture and other details you are showing the interviewer that you are interested in them. They won’t hire someone who does not show enthusiasm for the position and company. Click here for our interview guide which includes sample questions you can ask the interviewer.

7. Your attention wanders during the interview (staring out the window or playing with your rings).

This is another way to show an interviewer your lack of enthusiasm if your attention wanders. Give the interviewer good strong eye contact when you are talking to them and when you are listening to what they say.

6. You show up late for the interview without calling and explaining your tardiness.

When preparing for an interview you should build enough time prior to the interview that you can make it on time. Think about possible delays you could have and leave time to compensate. And if something happens and you are going to be late call ahead and tell them!

5. You fidget so much you distract the interviewer with your acrobatics.

It is understandable if you are nervous during the interview, but try to control the impulse to fidget. You want the interviewer to concentrate on your words not your tapping foot or swirling chair.

4. You answer your cell phone/you bring your cell phone to interview.

Big No-No! Don’t even bring your phone to the interview. Remember the interview is all about the company not all about you. They call the shots and may become annoyed and unimpressed if you answer your phone or if it even rings during the interview.

3. You speak negatively about previous supervisors or employers.

If you speak badly about your previous employer what is stopping you from speaking badly about a new employer? This is a hint into your personality that the employer may not like. Give them a positive impression. If you did not like your previous employer simply state that you had different styles but both of you worked well together.

2. You ask about pay and other benefits before they offer you the position.

Another big no-no. You want to leave the interview with the impression that you want the job because you enjoy the work and company not because of the pay check.

1. You do not know what position you are interviewing for or anything about the company.

You may say this is a hard thing to do but I have seen a student before who did not know which position they were interviewing for and knew nothing of the company. Do your research and know every little detail about the position and the company plus by doing your research you can develop questions to ask the interviewer.

 

Interviews 101: Behavior

The interview is an important step in the job hiring process. You, the potential employee, have wowed them with your resume and now you just need to back up all that information and wow them in the interview. Those minutes (or hours) you sit before your potential boss or supervisor can make or break you. If the employer is not impressed during the interview then it is a guarantee that you will NOT receive the position.

The way you act during an interview can effect the impression the employer has about you. For example, if you tend to jump around in your chair the employer may become distracted by your gymnastics and not pay attention to your responses to their questions. Here are some tips for behavior in the interview no matter if it is for a part-time job, an internship or full-time position.

You have most likely heard the expression that first impressions are hard to change. This is especially true when meeting with a potential employer for the first interview. The initial reaction they have to you may greatly effect their recommendation for hire. When meeting the employer you need to greet them with a smile and an enthusiastic personality. A positive attitude will show the employer you are excited about being there and that you have confidence in yourself and your abilities. If you go in with a frown or lack luster personality the employer may get the wrong impression and think you are either not serious about the job or that working with you would not be a pleasant experience. Remember the employer is sizing you up to see not only if you can do the job, but if you will work well with others.

Another key behavior you need to be aware of is your body language. During the interview your body language is a key element in showing your confidence. Do not fidget with your hands, pen, hair, or anything else. This will betray you if you are nervous or the employer may think your mind is not on the interview. Another way of showing your complete attention in the interview is to look at the employer in the eye.

Not only do you have to be careful about what your body is saying silently, you need to be extra aware of what your mouth is saying. The words you use will help the employer paint a picture of the kind of person you are. Remember these tips: first, no cursing in the interview. It is very rude and unprofessional and you want the employer to see you as a professional. Second, try to avoid filler words like “um,” “you know,” and “like.” These words can be distracting for the employer and may make it hard to follow your speech. The last key tip for speaking in the interview is use correct grammar. Keep in mind you are not hanging out with your friends and talking casually. Using correct grammar will help you appear professional and educated; if you do not use the right words the employer can get the wrong impression about you. They need to be able to imagine you talking with clients or other workers.

There are a lot of other behaviors you should avoid during the interview. Share some of your own thoughts about interviewee behavior. What did you do that impressed the employer? Or did you do something so bad you bombed the whole thing?