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Interviewing and Networking

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InterviewStream is an innovative learning tool that you can use to enhance your job interviewing skills and develop an edge over the competition.  You will be able to simulate job interviews by responding to pre-recorded interview questions and practice both verbal and non-verbal communication skills.  The site also includes an interviewing webinar and expert tips.  Once you have created an account online, you can practice your interview skills from any web-accessible device with a webcam.  You can select from hundreds of sample interview questions and review your performance online individually or with a Tulane Career Advisor.  This system is available to Tulane students and alumni.

To access the system:

 

Interviewing

Surveys from the National Association of Colleges and Employers show that employers seek candidates with the following skills:

  • Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization
  • Ability to make decisions and solve problems
  • Ability to obtain and process information
  • Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work
  • Ability to analyze quantitative data
  • Ability to create and/or edit written reports
  • Ability to sell or influence others


Before the Interview

Interview preparation begins long before you meet a company representative. In many ways, you have been preparing all your life by developing communication skills. The ability to communicate, to sell, and to market yourself are critical to getting the job offer, the primary purpose of a job interview.

Remember to come into our office for a mock interview! We can help you develop appropriate questions to ask, and define your answers to probable interview questions. We can also help polish your presentation, and practice interview steps to simply ease your nerves about your important day.

Know What You're Selling

Remember, in a job search, you are the only product. "You" are what you are selling. It is important that you:

  • Know yourself, your likes and dislikes.
  • Know your own unique skills and abilities.
  • Know your goals and objectives.
  • Know your direction in life, for the short term.


You will be unable to answer questions about these areas if you haven't taken time to know yourself. It doesn't matter what your degree or major is, these job questions will still need to be answered. People who appear undecided seldom get good offers.

Researching an Employer

Simply signing up to interview with an employer will not lead to a successful interview. To be successful you must learn as much as you can beforehand about the employer and the opportunities being offered. You may want to research the following topics to become more familiar with the company:

  • Company age, ownership, and locations.
  • Organizational structure; i.e. parent company and/or subsidiaries.
  • Sales/Financial picture of organization
  • Product lines or services, major competitors, and the organizations place among them.
  • Career opportunities and paths available.

The common method of researching a company today is visiting the company website. Make sure to use the Internet!

When employers interview on campus, most will hold an information session prior to the interview date. Attendance at these sessions is strongly advised and occasionally required by the employer if you plan to be interviewed. Some companies hold information sessions even if they do not plan to conduct on-campus interviews.

These sessions, required or not, are an invaluable resource to research specific employers. To see upcoming information sessions, view the upcoming calendar in your Wavelink account.


During the Interview


Typical Questions You May Be Asked

Expect questions that require thought on your part. Questions that start with how, what, or why such as:

  • How do you feel about...?
  • What do you think about...?
  • Why did you choose to...?
  • Tell me more about...?


And, of course, everyone's favorite opener, "Tell me a little about yourself."

Remember to look closely at your résumé. Listen to your own answers. The employer has the right to question you about anything you have said or written. You must be able to defend, justify or explain anything you say or write, so DON'T LIE. You may want to practice your answers, however. Any preparation is good preparation!

What Do I Need to Know About an Employer?

Typically, at the end of the interview, the employer will ask you "Do you have any questions for me?" The interview is still very much in progress and the questions you ask will reflect a great deal on your professionalism. It is always a good idea to prepare specific questions in advance.


After the Interview


LEARN FROM YOUR INTERVIEW!

Immediately take the time to evaluate your own performance. Did you present yourself well? What would you do differently if you had another chance? What questions did you have difficulty answering? Write these down, and prepare answers for when it comes up again.

Remember to write a short thank you letter to the interviewer within 2-3 days of the interview. Do so even if you have decided that you are no longer interested in the company. If any additional information is required of you, include it with the letter.

Click here to visit our Resource Library and download more information for interviewing, such as Interviewing Skills and Practice Interview Questions.


 

Networking


Many people use the classified ads as their sole job search technique. Unfortunately, statistics show that only 10-20% of jobs are ever published— that means that 80-90% of jobs remain hidden in the job market. For this reason, networking remains the number one job search strategy.

Networking Defined:

A network is an interconnected group of supporters who serve as resources for your job search and ultimately for your career. Some great network contacts might include people you meet at business and social meetings. These individuals can provide you with career information and advice. Students often hesitate to network because they feel awkward asking for help, but it should be an integral part of any job search. Though you might feel nervous when approaching a potential contact, networking is a skill that develops with practice, so don’t give up. Most people love to talk about themselves and about their jobs, and are willing to give realistic — and free — advice.


Nine Keys to Networking

  1. Be Prepared

    First, define what information you need and what you are trying to accomplish by networking. Remember, your purpose in networking is to get to know people who can provide information regarding careers and leads. Some of the many benefits of networking include increased visibility within your field, propelling your professional development, finding suitable mentors, increasing your chances of promotion and perhaps finding your next job. Second, know yourself—your education, experience and skills. Practice a concise, one-minute presentation of yourself so that people will know the kinds of areas in which you are interested. Your networking meeting should include the following elements: introduction, self-overview, Q&A, obtaining referrals and closing.

  2. Be Targeted

    Identify your network. For some, “I don’t have a network. I don’t know anyone,” may be your first reaction. You can start by listing everyone you know who are potential prospects: family members, friends, faculty, neighbors, classmates, alumni, bosses, co-workers and community associates. Attend meetings of organizations in your field of interest and get involved. You never know where you are going to meet someone who could lead you to your next job.

  3. Be Professional

    Ask your networking prospects for advice—not for a job. Your networking meetings should be a source of career information, advice and contacts. Start off the encounter with a firm handshake, eye contact and a warm smile. Focus on asking for one thing at a time. Your contacts expect you to represent yourself with your best foot forward.

  4. Be LinkedIn

    Use social media to enhance your online presence. An effective LinkedIn profile and professional photo is an essential aspect of your job search. It should even be updated and kept current as you progress along your career path. LinkedIn reaches far beyond a simple job board and is a powerful networking tool.

  5. Be Patient

    Heena Noorani, research analyst with New York-based Thomson Financial, recommends avoiding the feeling of discouragement if networking does not provide immediate results or instant answers. She advises, “Be prepared for a slow down after you get started. Stay politely persistent with your leads and build momentum. Networking is like gardening: You do not plant the seed, then quickly harvest. Networking requires cultivation that takes time and effort for the process to payoff.”

  6. Be Focused on Quality—Not Quantity

    In a large group setting, circulate and meet people, but don’t try to talk to everyone. It’s better to have a few meaningful conversations than 50 hasty introductions. Don’t cling to people you already know; you’re unlikely to build new contacts that way. If you are at a reception, be sure to wear a nametag and collect or exchange business cards so you can later contact the people you meet.

  7. Be Referral-Centered

    The person you are networking with may not have a job opening, but he or she may know someone who is hiring. The key is to exchange information and then expand your network by obtaining additional referrals each time you meet someone new. Be sure to mention the person who referred you.

  8. Be Proactive

    Stay organized and track your networking meetings. Keep a list of your contacts and update it frequently with the names of any leads given to you. Send a thank-you note or e-mail if appropriate. Ask if you can follow-up the conversation with a phone call, or even better, with a more in-depth meeting in the near future.

  9. Be Dedicated to Networking

    Most importantly, networking should be ongoing. You will want to stay in touch with contacts over the long haul—not just when you need something. Make networking part of your long-term career plan.

Questions to Ask During Networking

  • What do you like most (least) about your work?
  • Can you describe a typical workday or week?
  • What type of education and experience do you need to remain successful in this field?
  • What are the future career opportunities in this field?
  • What are the challenges in balancing work and personal life?
  • Why do people enter/leave this field or company?
  • Which companies have the best track record for promoting minorities?
  • What advice would you give to someone trying to break into this field?
  • With whom would you recommend I speak? When I call, may I use your name?


Do's and Don'ts of Networking:

  • Do keep one hand free from your briefcase or purse so you can shake hands when necessary.
  • Do bring copies of your résumé.


  • Don’t tell them your life story; you are dealing with busy people, so get right to the point.
  • Don’t be shy or afraid to ask for what you need.
  • Don’t pass up opportunities to network.

Examples of Successful Networking



Phone Dialogue:

When speaking to a prospective network contact, make sure to be polite, professional and as eloquent as possible. But don't panic! This is much simpler than you might think. Read over the sample phone dialogue to get a feel for proper conversation etiquette, and for examples of what to expect.

Networking Letter:

It is important to use proper grammar and diction when writing a letter to a prospective contact. A poorly written letter sends the wrong first message. Read over the sample letter for ideas about how to write a meeting proposal to a possible contact.

Thank You Notes:

Remember to send a thank you note! Networking is a process which only works if developed over time. Send a thank you note to make sure that future correspondence with your new contact will be warmly welcomed.

Click here to visit our Resource Library and download more information for networking, such as Writing a Sample Outreach Letter and Informational Interviewing.


 

Tulane University Career Center, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5107 csc@tulane.edu