Students headed into job interviews should view them for what they are: conversations, said Marva Gumbs, executive director of GW’s Career Center.
Just as most students going out into the business world for the first time may think, there are no right or wrong answers in an interview, Gumbs said. But practice giving clear answers is important.
Consultants at the Career Center help students prepare professional resum?s and cover letters and offer practice sessions for interviews.
Gumbs said students should get practice by having a mock interview with an individual consultant before trying the real thing.
“They spend one hour with the student and video tape the mock interview,” she said. “Then they replay the questions and answers to go over what the student could improve on.”
There is more to getting a job than just having the proper technical skills and qualifications, Gumbs said. Career Center staff members review all visual cues an interviewer might pick up on with the student, such as nervousness, voice tone, eye contact and handshakes. Consultants advise students on how to dress and what make-up is suitable for a job interview.
“It is important to understand what these things can do or not do for you in an interview,” she said.
Gumbs said students in interviews should try to tailor their answers to personal experiences.
“You should use all of your experiences when you answer questions,” she said. “Don’t answer in a vacuum, use your individual experiences and traits to show that you can fit into their environment.”
If a student makes a mistake or says something he did not want to say, it is better to recognize it and then move on than to pretend it did not happen, Gumbs said.
Most employers are polite and friendly to interviewees because they want to hire people and they want to look like their company is a good place to work, she said.
The Career Center tries to prepare students for all kinds of questions that could be asked, not just the standard ones, Gumbs said.
Professor Saundra Rose Maley, who teaches English part time at GW, asks students to write mock cover letters and resum?s to learn how to present themselves properly in a professional environment. It also helps them see where they may be lacking and need to “fill in” some blanks in their experience, she said.
“Since I work with mostly freshmen, a resum? early on allows students to see where they need to beef up their qualifications,” Maley said.
Maley said most students have little experience writing professional letters and need to learn the proper format and appropriate tone for cover letters to employers before the set out for a job.
She tells her students going in for interviews to be respectful and courteous.
“Many employers are seeking these qualities because the old-fashioned niceties are quickly disappearing,” she said.
Freshman Natalie Yeakle said she was unsure what to expect going into her first job interviews at Hallmark and Pizza Hut.
“I was asked what I could bring to the company and why I would be a good worker, also how flexible I could be with my schedule,” Yeakle said. “I was a bit nervous, but I tried to act relaxed.”
Yeakle said it was important to be friendly and happy because if students who seem uptight will not look confident for the job.
Senior Jeanne Fischetti, who was interviewed for an Americorps position she will start in August, said student should show up to interviews prepared to talk.
“Before you go, do some good research on the company so that when they ask if you have any questions for them, you do,” she said.