Easy ways to score an interview at the career fair

By Kimberly Ortiz

As the fall career fair approaches, many are anticipating their interviews with top employers. While there are several ways to tackle an interview, either by phone, in person, or even via Skype, it is up to the job applicant to make sure that everything goes well.


Kevin Doran ’78 speaks to a room full of students at the Cranberry Cavalry’s Interview Etiquette event on Oct. 23. He is the vice president of human resources and communications for PQ Corporation.

According to Kevin Fallon, director of Career Services, a successful interview is broken down into three parts: pre-interview research, the interview itself and a sending thank you letter.

“The single most important tip for a successful interview, regardless of how the interview is conducted, relates to your pre-interview preparation,” Fallon said.

The first step is to research. Fallon advises that in order to get the job, applicants must understand and study the position they are being interviewed for, as well as know the specificities of the company they are attempting to join.

“Use the company website, LinkedIn, Google and industry websites in order to familiarize yourself with the company,” said Lauren Nicolosi, career adviser for the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Interviewees should allow their knowledge to shine in their responses. It is essential that future employees be prepared to answer with confidence the following question, which is a given in nearly every interview: “So, tell me, why do you want to be a (title or position) with (name of organization)?”

It is also important to know the company’s competition and market. It can be helpful to talk to previous Rider graduates who may currently hold a position in the same industry.

When it is time for the actual interview, the information studied in the pre-interview process comes into play.

Dressing professionally is vital because appearance shapes first impressions. Avoid displaying piercings, wear simple jewelry and cover tattoos. If unsure about dress codes, see the “Dress for Success Guide” on Rider’s Career Services website, suggested Nicolosi.

According to Fallon, during the interview, one should sit up straight, bring several copies of a résumé in a portfolio, and most importantly, turn off the cell phone completely.

While no one is ever sure which specific questions will be asked during an interview, practicing will help to ensure that rambling answers are avoided and the main point is addressed. Answer the question, and stop. Let the interviewer proceed with the interview.

“Interviewing, for many, is their first exercise in selling,” Fallon said. “You are selling yourself to a prospective employer.”

Once the interview is complete, send an individual thank-you email as soon as possible to each person involved in the interview process. Make each letter unique by mentioning something that happened during the interview. Keep it short, sweet and to the point. Thank the company and interviewer for their time. In order to really stand out, try a handwritten card and sending it express mail.

Phone and Skype interviews are fairly similar. On Skype, dress as if interviewing in person. On the phone, stay away from interviewing via cell phone. If the signal is lost, the interviewee or interviewer may be cut off. Therefore, try using a land-line such as a work number. A quiet environment will help make the phone interview a success. The speaking tips mentioned earlier also qualify for both phone and Skype interviews.

Although there are many other factors, such as technical skills and whether the candidate will fit in with the company, Fallon believes that if an interviewee follows the steps, they are more likely to get hired.

“Employers are seeking new hires that are hungry and eager to come on board and learn, grow, and contribute to the success of the organization,” Fallon said. “One of the ways they look for that kind of hire is by assessing the potential hire’s preparation for each stage of interview.”

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