Employer Advice Spotlight: Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

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.

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?

Do you remember the old computer game and TV show that taught geography through a fun, traveling secret agent persona? The agents would travel the globe learning about their destinations and travel routes in order to capture Carmen. The problem was that this series was produced in the late 1980s and early 1990s before MapQuest and Google Maps. The agents would have no problem catching Carmen today. And think of playing this game if you had Google glasses!

So let me put this gently – in today’s world with iPhones, Google Maps, Wi-Fi access all over and a million apps to help you get to where you are going…DON’T BE LATE FOR AN INTERVIEW!

Nothing says “throw my resume in the wastebasket” to an interviewer quicker than you being late. Being late to the interview for any reason demonstrates what you are going to be like as an employee: late, irresponsible, demanding, and generally a terrible employee. Showing up late for your interview or anything else is just disrespectful. I don’t know about you, but I’d be sure I was actually early for an interview.

Here are a few tips for being on time to your interview.

1) Don’t just map the location out on Google Maps or another app. That is not enough. What if the GPS is wrong? What if the company recently moved? What if there is an accident and the road you want to take is closed? If the company is local, drive the route the day before to know exactly where to be.
2) Leave 30 minutes earlier than you think you should. It is far better to sit in the parking lot reviewing your notes and qualifications than it is to be rushed because you’re late.
3) When you are late, you rush and make mistakes making the situation worse. Imagine being 15 minutes late for your interview and running into the building to save time? Now you are late and sweaty. Not a good start.
4) “Early IS on time”. Think about it for a second. It also means that, “on time = late and late = forgotten”.
5) No matter how early you are, do not go into the building/office more than 10 minutes early. You seem too eager.
6) Bring some cold water for your trip and turn on the AC. When most people are nervous, they perspire. Use at least these two tricks to help reduce your anxiety.
7) Get gas the day before. Having to get gas will put you behind schedule. And nobody wants to smell like gas when they walk into a room.

If something happens and even with all your pre-planning you are going to be late, call well before your interview time to give the interviewer notice. Leave a clear, concise message.

Part of the world outside the university setting is timeliness. You are expected to be places and do things on time, if not in advance. Show that you are prepared for that leap by being at your scheduled location prior to the time you were given. I promise you the interviewer will be putting a “bonus point” in your column while others are getting dinged.

And by the way…I don’t think the agents ever found Carmen. Maybe you will see her on your way to your interview if you aren’t running too late!

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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.

10 Common Mistakes to Avoid in an Interview

By Lauren Burmester

interview mistakesPreparation is essential to ensuring a successful interview.  Common mistakes made in an interview can be avoided by being prepared ahead of time. Below is a list of the top 10 common mistakes made in an interview and how to avoid them.

1. Unprepared for the Interview

Not doing your homework and not preparing adequately for the interview beforehand gives the impression that you are a disinterested and unprofessional candidate.

Be prepared to talk about your experience, education, skills, etc. listed on your resume and how they tie into the company and position in which you are applying.  Research the company so you can adequately talk about why you are interested in the company and how you fit in the company culture.

2. Inappropriate Dress for Interview

The most common mistake made by individuals is to show up dressed inappropriately to your interview. The first thing an employer will notice about you is the way you dress.  Showing up to an interview not dressed appropriately can give the impression that you are unprofessional or not taking the opportunity seriously.

You can find tips on how to dress professionally for an interview at: http://careers.erau.edu/land-offer/interviewing/prepare/index.html.

3. Tardiness

Being late to your interview will create a bad and lasting first impression to the employer.  You will have to work even harder during the interview to make up for the initial bad impression.

Research the location you will be interviewing at ahead of time.  If you are unsure of the area, make a practice run beforehand.  Make sure you know the directions, travel times, and transportation options so you can arrive on time.

4. Inability to Articulate Interview Answers

Being unable to clearly articulate your responses to the questions gives the impression that you are not prepared for the interview and may have poor communication skills.

Avoid this mistake by preparing and practicing your answers to typical interview questions beforehand.  Record yourself answering the questions so you can hear how you sound, if you use inflection in your voice or if you sound too rehearsed.  You can also practice with a friend, family member, or roommate and have them give you constructive feedback in preparation. 

5. Failing to Ask Good Questions

Failing to ask good questions can be as detrimental as asking no questions in an interview.  Having no questions at all indicates that you are not interested or have not taken the time to think about the opportunity.  Asking bad questions or simple questions that could have been easily answered by looking at the position description gives the impression that you are not fully interested in the position and did not prepare.

In preparation for the interview, think of questions that you want to ask so you can arrive with questions already in mind.  Ask questions about specific details of the position to show the interviewer you have a genuine interest in the position and the company.

6. Talking Too Much

Talking too much and telling the interviewer more than they need or want to know can make them lose interest quickly.  Make sure your answers are concise and relevant to the question.  The best way to ensure this is to practice answering interview questions before hand.

Practice with a friend or roommate.  Think about or write down your skills, education, and experience that tie into the job.  The information will then be fresh in your mind, and you will be well prepared.  You can also set-up a mock interview with a trusted adviser.

7. Being Over-Anxious

The simple fact is that interviews are stressful.  Nervous or over anxious behavior can be distracting to the interviewer.  Nervous or anxious mannerisms can distract the interviewer from what you are articulating.

Practicing and being well prepared for your interview can help take away some of the nervous feelings.

8. Being Negative

It is important to keep a positive tone throughout the interview.  Do not create a negative impression by complaining about previous jobs or former co-workers and managers.  When asked tricky or negative questions, make sure to be optimistic and do not get defensive.  Interviewers understand no one is perfect.  It is okay to talk about challenging or failed situations, but remember to remain positive and enthusiastic about what you learned from the experience.

9. Appearing Distracted

Avoid fidgeting with objects or anything while listening to or talking with the interviewer.  Clicking your pen, tapping your foot, playing with hair or clothing can all be distracting and irritating to the interviewer.   You want them to focus on what you are saying rather than what you are doing.  Using wild gestures or unnatural body language can be disconcerting and leave a bad impression.

10. Leaving on the Wrong Note

Closing the interview on a positive note is as important as opening positively.  You want to leave the interview making a good impression on the interviewer.  Leaving the interview with confidence and thanking the interviewer will ensure that you are remembered as a good candidate.   Don’t forget to follow-up after the interview by mail or e-mail reiterating your interest in the job and the company.

Review tips and advice on how to prepare for an interview so you can ace the interview and make a terrific impression on the interviewer by visiting the Career Services Office website at:  http://careers.erau.edu/land-offer/interviewing/index.html

Lauren Burmester is the Aviation Program Manager in Career Services.  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.

Informational Interviewing for Fact-finding and Networking

By: Sandi Ohman

t1larg_info_interview_tsHave you met someone and thought, “Wow, their job seems very interesting.  I wonder how they got there and what they do in their position.”  If so, then an informational interview is a good way to find out about a career path, position, or company.

Informational interviews are facilitated by the person looking for a career, and the person being interviewed is the person in that career path or specific position.  The interviewer will ask the interviewee questions about his or her job, specific education, experience level and skills needed, challenges and interesting aspects of the position, companies to consider and any other questions about this industry/career path/position.  The end of the interview is a good time to ask the professional being interviewed to review a resume for areas of strength and weakness and what should be focused on to be competitive.

Informational interviewing is also an excellent networking tool.  Professionals are not usually as open to forwarding a resume on to a recruiter or hiring manager unless they have some knowledge of the person.  By beginning a networking relationship with industry professionals through informational interviews, they get to know the person’s interest and skills a little better and feel more comfortable recommending, to HR or a hiring manager, a resume for a position in their company.

Questions to get started:

How should you request an informational interview?  Reaching out to the person directly or being introduced by a mutual third party are two good ways.

If you don’t know someone in the industry, how can you find someone to interview?  Consider reaching out through groups in LinkedIn, such as ERAU Career Services group, ERAU Alumni group, or other professional groups in which you are a member.  Visit eaglesNEST to connect with an industry representative or identify a position you are interested in pursuing.  If you are a Daytona Beach or Prescott student or recent graduate, you can work with your Career Services program manager to see if she has any connections related to your industry/career path.  Finally, don’t overlook professors or administrators at your campus.  They are excellent people to start building your professional network with, to interview if they have worked in the industry and to see if they have recommendations for people with which to conduct informational interviews (and contacts too).

For more information on this topic, visit the Career Services Office website for Informational Interviewing.

Sandi Ohman is the Senior Program Manager in the Career Services Office at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  She has been with the university for over 9 years and has advised students in most all degree areas while in Career Services.  Sandi brings additional experience having worked in the finance industry for over 6 years in her previous career.  She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida, and her Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Central Florida.

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