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Confessions of an Interviewer: What It Takes To the Land the Job

Ariana Allen
Ahhh, the interview- racing hearts, sweaty palms, feelings of excitement and nervousness swirling around the butterflies in your stomach. You know that receiving an offer is dependent on doing well in this interview. As a college student or recent graduate, this is one skill you can’t take a class on.
I’ve been fortunate to not only have been interviewed for internships and jobs but also to conduct interviews. In my last job, I was put in charge of hiring, interviewing and training new employees. As the Founder of Educated Latina, I also interview writers and interns as well. I can totally relate to the anxiety around the entire job process. Who doesn’t? It’s like dating, it’s a process to find the right one. In this article, I’m going to walk you through some of those Do’s and Don’ts that I learned as an interviewer from my experience.

Phase 1- The Job Search

1) Use Your University’s Career Center
The Career Center at your school should be the first place you to go to when you are ready to apply for internships and jobs. They usually offer workshops on the job search process, job/internship postings, and one on one career counseling.
It’s the Career Specialist’s job is to foster relationships with employers and students to find a perfect match. They are like a personal career coach that helps you craft your resume, cover letter, and conducts mock interviews.
As an Undergrad, Grad or Alum, I highly recommend taking advantage of this free resource while you can. Remember, the 5 P’s: Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.
2) Do Your Research
Make a list of companies you’d like to work for and Google, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Social Media them. What have they been up to in the industry? Is there any press about projects, products, collaborations? What do the past and present employees say about working there? If this is a company you want to work at to start your career, do your research. What you discover will come in handy during the interview.
During your research, I recommend following the company’s social media accounts. Not all of them but perhaps one or two.  This is a great way to understand the brand of the company, the public voice of the company. What are they saying or aren’t saying? What causes do or don’t they support? How do they respond to criticism, complaints, and positive feedback? Do their voice and actions align with your values? Does their feed get you excited about working there?

Confessions of an Interviewer pt. I

I couldn’t believe how many people came into an interview and didn’t know anything about the company or position. It’s a huge turn-off! It shows a lack of interest, enthusiasm, passion or excitement about the company. In the same vein, don’t be overzealous in showing your knowledge because that can be a turn off too.

3) Clean Up Your Social Media Accounts

According to this article in Business News Daily,
“A study from CareerBuilder revealed that 70 percent of employers now use social media to screen job candidates before hiring them, up from 60 percent a year ago and 11 percent in 2006.
One-quarter of hiring managers expect candidates to have some sort of online presence, and nearly 60 percent are less likely to call someone in for interview if they can’t find them online.
“This shows the importance of cultivating a positive online persona,” Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, said in a statement. “Job seekers should make their professional profiles visible online and ensure any information that could negatively impact their job search is made private or removed.””
As an interviewer, I can tell you this definitely happens. I highly recommend asking your Career Specialist to help you with creating or updating your LinkedIn profile.

Phase 2- Submit Your Resume

Alright, so you have received help from the Career Center at school, did your research, followed them on social media, and you’ve thrown yourself in the running for a position within the company. Now you wait for an email or phone call with the next steps in the process- the interview.

Confessions of an Interviewer pt. II

It can be exciting for a company that hires a new employee, however, the process takes a lot of energy, time, and resources to recruit, interview, hire, onboard, and train. There is pressure to make sure that the new employee can not only accomplish their tasks but that they are also a good fit. Keep this mind when you are submitting your resume and do what you can to make their job as easy as possible.

Phase 3- The Interview

The wait is over! You were selected to interview with the company, congrats! There may be several ways the interview will be conducted depending on the type of company you applied to.
Prepare for the Interview
Interviews are nerve wracking because it can lead to either a job offer or a pass. Being prepared for the interview can help ease the butterflies.
I recommend:
  • Asking your Career Counselor to conduct a mock interview. They can help you craft your answers to standard interview questions.
  • Check Glassdoor.com. If the company is listed, there is a section where reviewers leave a review of the interview process including interview questions asked. This way you have a feel for what the process is like.
  • Learn about and incorporate the S.T.A.R response method for behavioral questions here.

Phone Interview

A phone interview is like a prescreening. They liked your resume and cover letter, now they want to get a feel for who you are. Here are my tips for phone interviews:
  1. Make sure your phone is fully charged.
  2. Be in a quiet place and don’t schedule any activities at least 15 minutes before. Remember, they are screening for your personality and enthusiasm, practice answering questions and when the phone rings,
  3. ANSWER THE PHONE!

If you pass this part of the interview process, you will be contacted with the next steps.

Confessions of an Interviewer Pt. III
A huge pet peeve of mine is when an interviewer does not answer the phone on the scheduled date and time.  If you don’t answer the phone, you missed out. Don’t expect a phone call or follow up. The interviewer is too busy and I can guarantee that they will pick another candidate from the hundred other people that applied.

In Person Interview

You passed the resume and phone interview process (if applicable), now they want to meet you in person. This is where they decide if they want to bring on the team.
Dress the part!
Whether your future workplace is a start up, corporate, or somewhere in between, make the effort to dress up. Trust me, you will be judged on what you wear. Make sure to make the right choice for how you want to represent yourself to your future employer.

FACT: “55% Of another’s perception of you is based on how you look.”

-Via wingsforsuccess.org

Check out, “4 Style Rules Every Educated Latina Must Follow, pt. 1 and part 2 written by Style Coach and Image Consultant, Veronica Gonzalez,  for detailed tips on interview and workplace style.
Bring Copies of Your Resume
Your interviewer is a very busy person. In addition to hiring and interviewing, they have their regular job with deadlines to meet. This may have been the day they didn’t have enough time to print off copies. Bringing your own copies makes their jobs easier and you look prepared.
Ask the interviewer Questions!
 This part gets overlooked and it’s unfortunate. Asking questions tackles several things:
  1. Helps you understand the position, the company, the culture, and your future colleagues.
  2. Shows your enthusiasm for the position and the company.
  3. Gives you an opportunity to show what you learned about the company through your research.
I’ve been asked some great questions during an interview, here are some examples:
  • What does it take to be successful in this position?
  • What do you do here?
  • How do you like working here?
  • What are the growth opportunities in this department/company?
Take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions. If you are unsure what to ask, check with your Career Specialist who can help you craft some interview questions.

Phase 4- After The Interview

Follow Up

I’ve conducted over 100 interviews and in that time I have received a handful of follow up Thank You notes or emails. It’s such a nice touch! I can’t guarantee that following up with a thank you will get you an offer but it helps you stand out from the others.

In Conclusion, remember…

You will be spending 8+ hours a day, commuting to the office, doing the tasks assigned and interacting with people. Is this a job you will like? A company whose culture and values match yours? People you will like to work with? Keep these questions in mind as you go through this process. Good luck Educated Latinas!
I hope this was helpful! I’d love to hear your tips and stories that worked for you on the job hunt.  Please share them below!

Author: Ariana Allen

Ariana Allen, Founder of Educated Latina, graduated with her B.A. in Women’s Studies from Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles in 2008.

A New York native and proud Dominiriqueña (Dominican/Puerto Rican), she currently lives in Inglewood with her awesome husband, Michael. When she isn’t working on EDL, Ariana is either watching her favorite TV shows or reading mysteries. She is passionate about traveling, cruising in particular, and is a self- proclaimed Francophile.

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