Interview prep boosts student job acquisition (Part 1)


photo of adam dangerfield. online editor, mesa legend
Adam Dangerfield
Mesa Legend

In the quest to land that perfect job there are three major things to consider.  First, research what skill sets a job might require. Once a good fit is found, as much research as possible is required. Check out their website, Google them and find out what products or services they offer and find out what the core competencies for the desired position are.  This will come in handy during the interview. Interviewers love someone who knows the company’s history.  Second, one must go over their resume with a fine-tooth comb, update it and format it in a way that fits with the desired job.  Let’s not forget having at least three – if possible – great professional references, and make sure they know they’re being used as references.  Third, be fully prepared for job interviews with prospective employers.

“To not dress professionally or appropriately for the interview; to not be polite or confident during the interview; and to appear/act nervous, unsure or provide either incomplete responses, or not direct responses (that address all areas of the questions)” are the three most common mistakes that job seekers make in interviews, according to Laurie Black with Career Services at MCC’s Southern and Dobson campus.  Anticipating what the questions might be and knowing how to answer them is a huge part of the battle. There are two basic interview styles that most employers use. Some use either/or, and some use both.  Traditional interviewing is the technique in which the interviewer asks the classic questions like,  “Tell us about yourself,” or “What is your biggest weakness?” as well as “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

Although these kind of questions have been around for a very long time, many job seekers, especially those who are just entering the job market, can get tripped up on them and blow the interview.   The good news is that these questions are pretty standardized and it’s easy to prepare for them by writing down answers to them and rehearsing the answers with someone before the real interview.

Behavioral Interviewing is a technique increasingly used by employers, and will have questions that focus on what one has done in certain situations in the past, as opposed to what one would do in a hypothetical situation.  The idea being that past behavior is a good indicator of future performance and many employers feel this technique will yield far more accurate indications of a candidate’s abilities.

“You can tell when you’re in a behavioral interview when you hear certain key phrases like, ‘Give me a specific example of a time when…’ or “Describe your experience with… or How did you deal with…?’ ” said Mylene Barizo, vice president of Human Resources Recruiting, Enterprise Rent-A-Car (Washington and Alaska).  It is really easy for a candidate to stumble on these questions, or at least not give the kind of answer for which the interviewer was looking.  There is a method for answering these type of questions called the S.T.A.R system. “It is the most efficient way to answer interview questions when you are in the behavioral modal.” Says Barizo.  The S.T.A.R. acronym is explained below:

S = Situation: The situation you were in.

T = Task: The task you were required to do.

A = Action: The action that you took.

R = Results: The result or outcome from that action.

MCC offers several resources to those seeking entry into the workforce. They offer mock interviews and other career-related services, which can be found at Career Services which has locations at both Southern & Dobson and Red Mountain campuses .

Be on the lookout for the conclusion of this story in our next posting. (Week of February 16th) 

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These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.

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