Tell me about yourself…

Sounds like the perfect interview question, right? Open ended? You can talk about your life, your dog, your favorite color and who makes the best pizza in Columbus, right?

Wrong.

This is one of the hardest and most common interview questions. With some simple preparation, you can avoid this feeling after the interview:

Think about this question as a movie trailer. It’s a 2-3 minute preview of what’s to come in the interview. It gets the recruiter excited to “watch the movie” a.k.a. sit through the rest of the interview with their metaphorical popcorn on the edge of their seat.

Here are some tips to make your trailer successful:

1. Think chronologically. Start from the “beginning” (which is usually the end of high school) and work your way up to today. Recruiters want a brief timeline of your significant experiences over the last few years that leads up to why you’re sitting in a chair across from them.

2. Give an overview of your background, don’t tell them your life story. Think big picture – an overview of the greatness that is you. You will walk them through your resume, highlighting things that are unique or significant but if you find yourself telling them what you’ve had for breakfast today, you’ve gone too far.

3. Tell them why you chose OSU. Recruiters love hearing about your decision-making process for choosing this university and your major. Pro tip: Don’t say discounted football tickets as your one and only reason. Trust me.

4. Connect your activities and experience to relevant skills. Don’t just say “I played soccer.” Instead, discuss how playing soccer for 4 years gave you a strong sense of teamwork and work ethic, and how being captain of the team your senior year gave you superior leadership and motivational skills. Mention things that you’re proud of and skills you possess that you know the recruiter is looking for.

5. Be confident and genuine. Your introduction should not be scripted or forced. For all you sports fans, it should be a “highlight reel” of what you’ve done or are doing that shows you in the best light. And it should be natural and fluid.

6. PRACTICE. For some people, the only way to balance having appropriate content with perfect execution is to practice saying it out loud a few times. Then you’ll see what stands out and what sounds fake or forced.

Remember, if you need help making your movie trailer sound like a Hollywood blockbuster, stop in the Office of Career Management and set up an appointment with a career consultant. We’re here to help!

 

What does it mean to have “clammy” hands?

The first thing I do when coming out to our lobby to get a student for their QUIC interview is offer my hand up for a handshake. “Hi, I’m Audra!”

In business, a handshake can say so many things about you. The handshake needs to be firm (not death-grip firm, but firm) and with confidence and purpose.

One thing that need not be included in your handshake?? Clammy hands.

Clammy hands, also known as sweaty palms, are a common occurrence with interviewees. Their nerves get the best of them, and those nerves can manifest through hand perspiration. But don’t worry – it happens to the best of us!!!

An easy tip? Shortly before your scheduled interview time, simply (but thoroughly) wipe the backs and front of your hands on your pants. It is better to have your nervous perspiration on your own pants than on the recruiter’s hands. For obvious reasons.

Telling Your Story

“When I was hiking in the Appalachian mountains, I came across a wild bear. I wrestled him to the ground and saved my family. This experience taught me how to perform well under pressure.”

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^^^ WHAT?????

Simply put, people who interview well are great story tellers.  Essentially, we are telling our story when we are interviewing for a new job. Yet, most of us don’t see it this way when we are preparing for the big interview.  We think about the questions we’ll need to answer and then come up with answers to plug-in when we are asked these questions.  When we look at the questions separately and the answers we develop for these questions as separate from all the other interview questions we will be asked, we fail to prepare a theme.  In this separation we forget to set up, share and then drive home the themes as to why we are the best candidate to hire.

The best advice I have ever received about building a theme for my story was from a public speaking course I took.  The advice was, first, tell them what you’re going to tell them, then tell them about it, then wrap up by telling them what you told them. The key is the clear progress of theme for your story.  This clarity can lead to success in educating a recruiter as to why you are the candidate for the job.

Here’s how to put this idea to work with building your story for interview success.  First, think of three reasons you are great fit for the job.  For example, you are applying for a sales position and your three reasons are that you are resilient, enjoy building new relationships, and you are organized.  These three reasons are the themes for your story.  So when the recruiters says “Tell me about yourself,” make sure you tell them you are resilient, organized and enjoy meeting new people.  Then throughout the interview look for opportunities to discuss each of these ideas on who you are through a story about your experiences.  If you are asked why they should hire you, tell them you have three reasons and then share these three characteristics with a brief example to back each up.  Finally, when the interview is wrapping up remind them you are organized, enjoy building new connections, and are resilient. There you have it – you told them what you were going to tell them, you told them, and then you told them what you told them.  It would be impossible for the recruiter to walk away from your interview and not know you are resilient, organized and outgoing.  They will know your story as to why you are great fit for the sales position.

When preparing for your next interview, think big picture and develop a theme for the answers you are putting together for those typical interview questions. We all love stories and stories are how we explain who we are to others.  If you story has a set of themes, your story has a consistent and clear quality that will help people remember you for all the right reasons.  Good luck with your story – it is yours to write.

What’s your competitive advantage?

I find myself saying the same thing over and over again during the feedback portion of QUIC interviews:

“Well, dear student, all of this information is great. But what sets YOU apart from every other business student in this College? In Ohio? In the country? In the WORLD?!?!?”

Ok, I might not get that dramatic. But I do challenge students to GO BEYOND the typical interview fare and look within themselves to find what makes them great. What in the world are you the best at? What is a quality you have that the next guy/gal in line doesn’t have? What are the qualities that people constantly tell you you possess (even if you don’t always recognize it)?

The truth is, these qualities don’t have to be profound, earth-shattering, or life-changing. You don’t have to rescue babies from runaway trains to possess great time-management and critical thinking skills. But the whole point of an interview is to differentiate yourself from your competition. For example, everyone can claim they are hardworking, but how are YOU hardworking? Do you work 40 hours per week, play intramural soccer, maintain a healthy (and safe) social life, all while maintaining a 3.8 GPA with only 3 cups of coffee per day? My word, you ARE a superhero!

Everyone, and I do mean everyone, can come up with at least three strengths that are unique, valuable, and relatable to your chosen career field. If you are struggling to come up with these qualities, stop in the Office of Career Management and set up an appointment with a career consultant. We can help you find your competitive advantage. Even if we have to drag it out of you.

Job Search Momentum – How to Keep It Moving

By Mark Wilson, Director of Employer Relations & Technology

If we are really honest with ourselves, we’ve all been scared on some level about the job search.  Sometimes this fear can bring about a really bad case of job search procrastination.  By procrastinating, we can avoid facing our job search fears by not reaching out to people to build a network, by not applying to opportunities and by not practicing our interviewing skills.  By avoiding the work of the job search we don’t have to face our fear of rejection.  As a result, the search for employment can stall and even fizzle out.

The best way to avoid letting procrastination drag you down is to keep moving forward with your search. Once you have your momentum going forward it is easier to keep going than to have to start over.  As we all know, it is a real drag on our energy and confidence when we lose our momentum and feel like we are starting from scratch. Even worse, feeling like we had circumstances on our side and then we dropped the ball letting the momentum die.

Ten ideas on how to keep the momentum in your job search alive:

  1. Set up a meeting for coffee with someone you admire and get their advice
  2. Explore your school’s alumni network and find alumni to get advice from
  3. If you’re in school, make an appointment with your career services office
  4. Find a book on job search strategy and make it a goal to read one chapter you find interesting
  5. Find a local career fair to attend in the next two months and put it on your calendar
  6. Make sure you have the “uniform” you need for interviews and meetings
  7. Polish your shoes – especially guys, we are lazy about this but it is part of your first impression
  8. Have someone review your resume one more time
  9. Learn about informational interviews and set one up
  10. Write thank you notes to people who have recently helped you or even people who helped you five years ago

The real secret to momentum is doing little things on a consistent basis.  If you keep moving you will build momentum for your job search which will in turn boost your energy and confidence.  People with these two things are much more attractive to employers. Keep doing the little things for your job search and over time you will have accomplished the big thing – finding a job.