Career Center prepares students for interviews
by MAGGIE MUSGRAVE
This article originally appeared in The Tiger on February 17, 2006 | PRINT

This past week Clemson University hosted the largest Career fair in the University's history. Various companies set up recruiting and information tables, eventually taking over the second floor of Hendrix Center and spilling over onto the first floor. The Michelin Career Center also surrendered all free space to the visiting companies.

This year more companies visited than any year in the past, and they were drawn to Clemson because of the reputation of Clemson Alumni and students, said Julie Newman, director of career development, special projects and grants. Newman said the employers commented on the caliber of the Clemson students. According to Newman, they were impressed by students and had many positive interactions.

Newman said there are many different factors that go in to finding a job and the Career Fair is a good starting point for the job search. Employers use the fair as a pre-screening tool for job recruiting. By meeting and talking with perspective student employees, employers can observe whether the student has the appropriate skills needed to fit in their specific business culture.

Immediately following the career fair employers held on campus interviews. Other companies will return later in the spring to continue the interview process.

Newman said an interview is about an interaction between two people; if the interaction is not comfortable then it is likely that the job will not be comfortable either. Newman said the best tip she can give is to not focus on impressing the interviewer, because the interviewer is equally as worried about impressing you.

An interview consists of a combination of listening and communication skills, said Newman. The key is to adequately answer the questions in the allotted 30 minute interview span. Be prepared and have examples because examples make your answers more personal, said Newman.

To prepare for an interview Newman said, "Research is paramount." Perspective students and employees should research the history of the company or school they are interviewing for.

Newman said to not rely solely on information from the Web site for company research. "You want to wow the employer, so look through trade journals and news articles for information on the company that will make your interview unique," she said.

Many things can be easily overlooked when going into an interview. Eye contact is important; you should maintain eye contact for 70 percent of the interview, said Newman. Newman said to be enthusiastic, lean forward and ask many questions.

"My biggest fear is that they are not going to take me seriously," said Krissy Thompson, senior French and international trade major.

Another concern for students is anticipating the questions the interviewer will ask.

William J. Crosby, a junior marketing major said the one question asked at every interview is to describe your weakness. Crosby said that the goal is to describe your weakness in a positive light, but the question is not meant to be confessional - it is a way to show humility during the interview.

Newman said that students will sometimes hear questions such as, "What would you have written on your tombstone?" Crosby said the strangest question he has ever heard was, "If you had a breakfast restaurant, what kind of food would you serve?" According to Newman, employers ask these types of questions to see how well perspective employees can think on their feet.

To help appease the stress and anticipation of the interview process, the Michelin Career Center is available for advice and training to all Clemson students. The career center offers mock-interview opportunities to plan out what to say in an interview. The entire mock-interview process mirrors an actual interview: students send in their resumes and then arrange an interview with a career center counselor.

Students like Lindsay Tymon, a senior health science major who said she worries about explaining everything she wants to say in concise manner, could benefit from a mock-interview.

The newest addition to the career center is the Interview Stream. The Interview Stream system, which came to the Michelin center late last semester, is a kiosk set up in one of the center's rooms.

At the Interview Stream kiosk, a student selects the questions they wish to be asked during an interview. The student then enters the room, is asked the selected questions while being video taped, and when finished receives a copy of the recording over e-mail.

Newman said that students are able to observe their mannerisms and reactions to the interview questions, and see where improvement is needed. Newman thinks the Interview Stream brings new possibilities for the future of the career center, but so far only a handful of students have taken advantage of it.

Along with the Michelin career Center, there are other outlets to help prepare students for interviews. Newman recommends two popular books that have proven to be successful in helping students master the interview experience.

Ron Fry's "101 Great Answers to the Toughest Interview Questions," gives readers examples of interview questions, explains why the interviewer asks such questions and what type of answers they re looking for.

Richard Nelson Bolles' book "What Color is Your Parachute," is one of the best selling job-hunting books in the world. It is practical and easy to follow, and it has helped many people find their niche, said Newman.

To follow up an interview, Newman recommended writing a Thank You note because it lets the company know you are interested. "Never be afraid to tell them you want the job, employers love to hear this," she said. A Thank You note can make all the difference, she said.

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