Employer Advice Spotlight: Sometimes Overlooked Interview Items

By Joshua Pringle

Joshua Pringle is the Director of Marketing at CO2Meter, a leader in Carbon Dioxide metering, sensing, and detection.  CO2Meter designs, manufactures and distributes industry leading devices to consumers and companies in diverse business segments.  Mr. Pringle has put together a series of articles providing advice, from a company’s perspective, on interviewing.  The series will be added throughout the spring semester. 

78dc1fd7-7a8f-4b20-b084-8789c91af08dMost of what you read or hear about interviewing is about preparation, questions and speaking to your skills.  These items are 80-90% of the interviews success.  But the other 10-20% is often overlooked mostly because they are considered “soft skills” that most people are either not aware of or that make them uncomfortable.  Think of “cold calling”.  Most people think “telemarketer” and are repulsed by the idea of cold calling.  But those in business know it is a skill that is essential to the success of almost every organization.

Here are a few of the overlooked items that are important to your interviewing success.

1)      Take a look on the internet and study your interviewer(s).  LinkedIn is a great tool for this.  Best case scenario – you have a common connection that can recommend you.  Worst case scenario – you know the interviewers work history and where they went to college.  Knowing that they went to ERAU or MIT will make for an easier icebreaker than “wow, it’s hot out there.”

2)      Call or email the day before to confirm your appointment, the time, and location.  Confirming says to the interviewer that you are thorough and interested.  It also ensures that you are at the correct location on time.

3)      Be on time.

4)      Think about getting business cards for yourself.  Check out Vista Print.  Good cards will cost you $25-$30 and your University may have printing services too.  A card says you have planned and are serious.  It also ensures that you can exchange contact information with your interviewer.

5)      Get your interviewer’s card so you have all their contact information.  There is actually business etiquette to exchanging business cards.  Review it.

6)      Make eye contact.  Interviewers are turned off by people who don’t make eye contact.

7)      Bring a copy of your resume and any relevant work examples (see the Seven P’s).

8)      Ask the great questions you’ve prepared in advance.

9)      Please take a few minutes and ensure that you have a great business handshake.  Practice on friends and family.  “The Cold Fish” or “Grandmotherly” handshake is a kiss of death for your interview.

10)   Smile.  Research done in 2012 by professors at the University of Kansas has proven that smiling releases your AND others’ tension.

Most importantly you must write either a hand-written thank you note or an email within 24 hours of the interview.  This is an absolute.  No questions asked.  I can guarantee you that a spectacular interview gets knocked down several notches if the interviewer doesn’t receive a thank you note.

Your thank you is your opportunity to show gratitude for the interview opportunity, for you to rectify any issues the interviewer saw in your candidacy, and for you to reinforce your qualifications.  Not sending the thank you note screams unprofessional, rude, and a bad fit.

I actually suggest two thank you’s.  The first is electronic sent within 12 hours of your interview, a quick thank you that informs your interviewer you are sending a hand-written note.  The second is the hand-written note that is your main follow up tool.

Conventional wisdom is that hand-written notes are out of date and old news.  Business professionals know that hand-written notes leave lasting impressions of professionalism, class, and respect.  I have cemented dozens of business relationships simply by sending a hand-written thank you note.

Be prepared.  Have great questions to ask.  Be ready to address your skills.  Also, consider some of these areas that are often overlooked.  As a reminder, be classy and respected, not old news.

How to Prevent Post-Expo Blues

by Lauren Burmester

thCAYZTAFINow that the Industry/Career Expo has come and gone, what’s next?  You spent weeks preparing by creating a strong resume, working on your interviewing skills, researching companies, etc., and in a matter of hours, it is all over.  The excitement of speaking with company representatives and the prospect of working for one of these companies is starting to fade, but it doesn’t have to.  Use the following steps to prevent post-Expo blues and keep moving in the right direction.

Keep the momentum going.  Stay focused and motivated on your career goals.  Even if you handed your resume to a company representative at the Expo, you should still apply for jobs that are posted on the company’s website.  You may have only discussed one particular position while at the Expo; however, there are probably multiple positions on the website that you should pursue.  Keep up with current events for the companies in which you are interested.  This not only helps you stay excited about the companies, but when the time comes to interview, you are well prepared which shows the employer you are truly interested in working for them.

Extend your appreciation. Send a “thank you” email to the representatives you spoke with to show your appreciation and reiterate a key skill or accomplishment that further communicates your interest in their company.  If you have a physical address, send a hand-written letter instead of an email.  With today’s use of technology, most thank you letters are sent via email, so a hand-written letter is even that much more appreciated and memorable.  Something as simple as a letter can make you stand out from the rest of the candidates in a positive way.  Review a sample thank you letter on our website.  Make sure to customize your thank you letter for each representative.

Follow-up or check-in.  If you interviewed with a company at Expo, it is okay to follow-up or check-in with the employer if they gave you a timeline that has passed.  Remember there is a fine line between checking in and harassing an employer.  If an employer stated that they would be in touch with you in a week, it is acceptable to reach out to them if it has been over two weeks since you heard from them to check on your application or candidacy.  You want to show interest but not seem desperate.  If you do not hear back from the employer, avoid continually trying to contact them or start calling around the company to other employees.  It is important to remain patient.

Move on and stay positive.  If it has been several weeks since you heard from the recruiter or they are not returning your phone calls, it is time to move on and start looking for other opportunities.  There could be a number of reasons why you did not get the job: the job opening was cancelled or put on hold, they decided to hire from within, they decided to go with a candidate who had more experience, etc.  Remember it’s business, not personal.  Use this as a learning opportunity and think about what you can work on or do differently next time.  Continue to improve your resume and interview skills by attending Career Services focused presentations and industry conferences.  Continue to network using both social media outlets such as LinkedIn or Facebook and in-person opportunities.  While in school take advantage of the resources and services provided by your campus.  Most importantly stay positive and don’t give up!

Lauren Burmester is new to the Career Services Office as a Program Manager.  She has been an employee with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University since 2006 working in Advising and Admissions.  She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Studies with concentrations in Aviation Safety, Space Studies, and Business Administration, as well as a Master of Science degree in Aeronautics with a specialization in Safety Systems at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, graduating with distinction.  Lauren’s passion for the Aviation and Aerospace industry is instrumental in assisting students achieve their personal and professional goals.

The Value of a Thank You

by Kristy Amburgey

If you attended the Industry/Career Expo or had an interview with one of the exhibiting companies, did you send them a thank you note?  If not, I challenge you to immediately send an email to the connection you made or your interviewer, thanking them for their time.  If you did not attend the Expo, I challenge you to follow up on a recent interaction, networking connection, or interview with a note of appreciation.

I may be insisting on an old-fashioned action, but sending a thank you note or email is still an effective way to further your standing with a potential employer.  A thank you can convey your excitement and desire for a position, help you stand out from other candidates, reiterate a key skill or accomplishment or even remind the employer about your abilities one more time.   At the same time, a thank you note can further build your relationship with a person who may have provided you information, support, advice or guidance in your career development.

Some rather savvy job and internship seekers handed their interviewers thank you cards after their interviews the day after the Expo.  One of those savvy seekers mentioned that he could see the appreciation on his interviewer’s face, and he felt that that the thank you card made a difference in being invited for another interview, this time on-location.

Do you still question the value of a thank you?  My challenge to you still stands.  Use the power of a thank you to your advantage, responsibly of course, and send a well-crafted note to your interviewer or any employer who may have provided you valuable information.

Note: You can review a sample thank you on our website.

Kristy Amburgey is the Associate Director of Career Services – Daytona Beach campus and currently manages marketing and employer relations for the department.  She has been with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for approximately 10 years and with Career Services for nine years.

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