It's time to apply (yourself and for a job)

It’s job-hunting season for students in search of internships, part-time gigs and first jobs after graduation. What’s New @UofSC sat down with Mark Anthony, associate director for career development and experiential education, to get some tips on a successful search.

How should students begin preparing for a job search?
Stop by or make an appointment to visit the UofSC Career Center. Our career development coaches are available to help you explore options and learn the skills and strategies to find the best opportunities for your future.

What are some resources students can use to apply for jobs?
Handshake is the best starting point, but it requires you to activate your account and complete a profile. From that point, you can view Career Center tools and resources, schedule an appointment with your career coach, search for internship and job opportunities that are posted by employers locally and nationally and schedule on-campus interviews.

Can students get help with resumes?
We recommend bringing a print copy of your resume to our drop-in hours. Stop by the Career Center in Thomas Cooper Library from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and the College of Engineering & Computing satellite office to have your resumed looked over. Business student have access to the Office of Career Management in the Darla Moore School of Business as well. One of the team members will review the draft and, if necessary, provide suggested changes to improve the wording and style of the resume.

Once students have been offered an interview, what’s next?
Approach the interview as you would a test: Do your homework. The main topic of the interview is you — your education, experience, knowledge, skills, interests and goals. You will be expected to know about the organization with which you are interviewing — their mission, products and services, customers and clients and industry trends.  

How can students prepare for interviews?
InterviewStream is an online tool that allows a student to practice responding to interview questions using their computer or tablet. You can select a pre-set interview based on your major, or you can create your own interview from a database of 8,000 potential interview questions. Once you select your interview option, the questions will come up on your screen, and you can use your webcam and microphone to record your responses. There is a rubric for evaluating yourself afterwards, or you can download your interview and share it with a trusted and knowledgeable professional to evaluate your answers. The Career Center also offers opportunities to participate in a face-to-face mock interview with a staff member or an employer and receive feedback directly about your interview performance. These can be scheduled through Handshake.

Should students plan on bringing anything to the interview?
On the day of your interview, some items you may want to have with you include additional copies of your resume, a list of references and an unofficial transcript. Having a nice professional-looking padfolio helps to carry these documents. In some professions, a portfolio may be helpful to show examples of previous work that you have done. Do not bring your cell phone or, if you do, turn it off before you walk into the interview.

What should a student plan on wearing to an interview? Is it really necessary to have a dimple in your tie?
A business suit is commonly accepted, even if the job for which you are applying will not require you to wear a suit. Details like the dimple in the tie, a watch, minimal jewelry and a shine on the shoes get noticed.

Any other advice for preparing for interviews?
Practice, practice, practice. You’ll feel more confident when you get to the interview if you have prepared. Arrive 10-15 minutes before your scheduled interview. This gives you time to step into the restroom, take a look in the mirror and take a few deep breaths. Most of all, smile. This is your opportunity to talk about your favorite subject — you.  

Any advice on how to answer questions?
The most common style of interview used today is behavioral interviewing. This is an open-ended question that is aimed at finding out about your past performance, because your past performance is the best indicator of your future performance. These types of questions usually start with “Tell me about a time when …” or “Give me an example of how you …” What the employer is looking for in your response is called the STAR technique:

  • Situation: Identify a situation that aligns with the question;

  • Task: Identify your objective to handle the situation;

  • Action: Identify the steps you took to meet your objective;

  • Results: Did you accomplish your objective? Did you fail? It’s okay to talk about your failures, as long as you talk about what you learned or what you would do differently the next time.

There are also negatively aimed questions that come up in an interview. A typical question that comes up is “What are your weaknesses?” or “What challenges you?” Because they are common, you should expect this type of a question and have a response, but an answer that does not rule you out of consideration. For example, you wouldn’t want to tell an employer that you don’t like to start your work day before 10 a.m. when the job requires you to be at work by 8 a.m. Find something that used to be a weakness, but you have or are in the process of overcoming.

What sort of questions should students ask?
Many students think the interview is all about answering questions, but it is just as important for a student to ask questions during the interview.  While the employer is trying to decide if you are right for the job, you need to determine if this organization and position is right for you. If they offered you the job today, what do you need to know to make your decision? The main thing that you probably want to know is salary, but that is the one question you should never ask during the interview.

What should a student do after the interview?
A thank you note to the interviewer is important. This can be done electronically, although taking the time to write or type a brief, professional thank you is preferred. You can use this thank you note as one more chance to “sell” yourself. You may want to remind the interviewer about an important part of your interview, or you could use this as an opportunity to emphasize some point that you may have forgotten to mention during your interview.  

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