by Kristen Ulery
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment dropped from 10 percent to 9.7 percent nationally this past month, scoring a small victory for the struggling U.S. economy. With so few jobs available for graduates, Goshen College’s Career Services is trying to prepare students for the bleak job market.
Super Tuesday, a mock interview event where students talk with professionals and are given feedback on their presentation, was held this past Tuesday in the College Church’s Fellowship Hall. Students arrived in professional dress, carrying their completed resumes and ready to be interviewed.
Anita Yoder, Director of Career Services, listed some important things to be aware of when interviews begin.
“Firm handshake, correct posture, eye contact, smile, and high energy level,” she suggested.
Yoder also shared that an interview begins when the first contact is made. This means that phone calls should begin with an introduction, use professional language, and leave contact information. E-mails must be well-written and prompt (a response should not be later than 24-48 hours) and a professional e-mail account must be created. After an interview, make sure to follow-up with a personal e-mail or a handwritten thank-you. Finally, take every opportunity to network; it’s how most people find jobs. A popular networking site for professionals is LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com), which allows users to reconnect with old colleagues or classmates, locate job or business opportunities and share industry advice.
Tim Blaum, senior communication major, stated, “I hope that my interviewer can give me tips for what I did well and what I can improve to make a ‘real’ interview more successful.”
When interviewing Elena Histand, senior math education major, Bob Duell, the previous superintendent of Goshen Community Schools, opened with the statement, “Tell me a little bit about yourself.”
Histand mentioned that her mom works as an educator, a point Duell appreciated. Duell later stated that “you want the interviewer to drop the pencil and stare at you.” Duell was looking for information that would set Histand apart from everyone else.
Duell presented Histand with a series of questions that would provide insight into her classroom philosophies about relationships, engaging instructional strategies and assessment.
Duell later commented that throughout Histand’s interview, her desire to form relationships with students was evident.
“More than the material, it’s knowing the students,” Histand said during the interview.
The interview ended with Duell asking what questions Histand had for her.
Histand asked questions that illustrated she had researched Goshen Community Schools.
Duell’s advice for this portion of the interview is, “Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions. You’re also interviewing the school.”
The interview ended with a firm handshake and cordial good-byes.
“Being able to have a practice interview that mimics a real interview,” Histand states, “was helpful in lending me some confidence as I look towards that step in the process. I’ve been looking at a variety of job banks on the Internet, and I have a few school districts that I am keeping closer tabs on. In general, I’m just a little more attuned to listening for job openings than I might be otherwise.”
After the Super Tuesday, a majority of students felt better prepared for upcoming job interviews.
Career Services created a “Reality Check List” for upcoming graduates. Peruse the list and check off the completed tasks for the greatest amount of success in a job search.
1) I have a resume that effectively describes my current skills, abilities and value.
2) I know how to write a cover letter and tailor it for a specific position.
3) I have completed a practice interview and have appropriate interviewing attire.
4.) I know what skills employers seek and can articulate my strongest skills and abilities.
5) I have a professional voicemail and email address.
6) I understand the importance of networking in achieving my career goals.
7) I know how to research industries, companies, and job opportunities.
8) I understand the average job search can take several months.