Be Professional. Be Prepared. Be Experienced: Interview Tips to Help You Land Your Next Job and October 2012 Seminar

businessgirlsmiling-resized-600In a struggling economy, many people are applying to multiple jobs which means multiple interview possibilities. Whether you just recently graduated college, you’re looking to change jobs, or you’ve been out of work for a while – we want to help you land that next job opportunity – so when it comes down to preparation you need to practice, because practice ultimately makes perfect. Remember to sell yourself and sell your skills to prove you’ll be the best candidate for the position. Take the necessary steps before going into an interview so you can feel confident about what you can bring to the table and offer to the company.

Although interviewing never seems to get easier, use these tips to help you interview effectively, efficiently and confidently…

  • Practice: Practice your responses to the typical job interview questions and answers most employers ask. Think of actual examples you can use to describe your skills. Providing evidence of your successes is a great way to promote your candidacy. Also have a list of your own” target=”_blank”>questions to ask the employer ready.
  • Research: Prepare a response so you are ready for the question What do you know about this company? Know the interviewer’s name and use it during the job interview. If you’re not sure of the name, call and ask prior to the interview. Try to relate what you know about the company when answering questions.
  • Get Ready: Make sure your interview attire is neat, tidy and appropriate for the type of firm you are interviewing with. Bring a nice portfolio with samples of your work and extra copies of your resume. Make sure to include a pen and paper for note taking.
  • Be On Time: Be on time for the interview. On time means five to ten minutes early. If need be, take some time to drive to the interview location ahead of time so you know exactly where you are going and how long it will take to get there. Here’s more on preparing for an interview.
  • Stay Calm: During the job interview try to relax and stay as calm possible. Take a moment to regroup. Maintain eye contact with the interviewer. Listen to the entire question before you answer and pay attention – you will be embarrassed if you forget the question!
  • Show What You Know: Try to relate what you know about the company when answering questions. When discussing your career accomplishments match them to what the company is looking for. Here’s how to make a match between your expertise and the company’s requirements.
  • Follow Up: Always follow-up with a thank you note reiterating your interest in the position and thanking them for meeting with you. If you interview with multiple people send each one a personal thank you note. Send your thank you note (email is fine) within 24 hours of your interview.
If you need to dust off an old resume/cover letter and are in dire need of some help to make it modern and up-to-date, here are some pointers from Russ Cook, who’s held numerous positions in the human resources industry at companies such as Comcast, 3M and GPU Nuclear.
  • Resume: Be sure to include contact information in the header (including your e-mail) and a section that summarizes your skills in bullet points. List present or last job positions first and then follow chronologically. Remember to use action words to start each bullet point that highlights what you’ve accomplished in each job position held. Also, include education and certifications earned that may be applicable. Keeping your resume to 2 pages is your best bet since most companies only review the first page. It’s okay to reduce oldest positions to a short statement highlighting your main accomplishments in order to make your work history fit.
  • Cover letter/E-mail: It is stressed that your grammar and spelling are perfect before sending your cover letter, resume and e-mail to the individual job. Have a few friends or family members check for mistakes before sending it out. Do not forget to address the person who posted the job, describe in a brief paragraph how you meet the qualifications and skills listed in position, using “key words” in the description that will draw the recruiter’s attention (there are free Internet tools like Wordle that will pick out key words for you!) and offer an e-mail address and phone for contact to obtain further information.
  • Social Media: Take advantage of the free job portals that are available to you. Reach out to potential employers by using LinkedIn where you can build a portfolio (even an online portfolio builder:, upload your resume and network with previous, current and potential employers. You can even ask old co-workers, managers and bosses to recommend you and it will be posted on your LinkedIn profile page.
Recent college graduates, don’t be discouraged – you have PLENTY of information that you can include in your resume. With these tips you will be able to use your resume to convince employers that your academic success is transferable to the workplace.
  • Goal Objective: It’s important for recent grads to provide a targeted objective statement. The objective can be stated in a formal objective section or referenced in a qualifications summary. Whichever approach you choose, avoid flowery or generalized objectives that are too commonly used by new graduates. This should be placed at the top of your resume after your header.
  • Emphasize Accademic Credentials: If your related work history is minimal, place your education before work experience. List academic honors such as dean’s list, distinctions such as summa cum laude, scholarships and other awards. As a general guideline, list your GPA if it’s at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. If your GPA leaves something to be desired, use your major GPA if it’s higher than your overall GPA. Consider adding a list of related courses in your education section so hiring managers can see that you have a strong academic foundation.
  • Highlight Educational Experiences: When reviewing your resume, hiring managers want to understand what type of worker you would be if they hired you. So describe educational experiences such as internships, practicums, class projects and even volunteer activities as if they were paid work experiences. A good internship can help you land the perfect entry-level job that you’ve been looking for. If you lack work experience related to your goal, include your internships and practicums in your experience section. Give examples of actual assignments, challenges you faced, your contribution, and the results and benefits to the employer.
Best of luck in your job search, we hope these tips and advice will make your process a little bit easier!

For additional help and information, attend our Job Search Seminar with SCORE, on October 24th at 6:30pm at our Wall Office. To register, click the image below. We hope to see you there!

Register Now!

As an extra bonus, if you comment on this article with a question, feedback or another job search tip by 11:59pm on 10/31/12, First Financial will automatically enter your name to win a FREE session with Rob Imperato, CEC-Certified Professional Life Empowerment Coach at Self Empowerment Coaching, LLC. Rob can be reached at 732.730.2234 or

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER. Must be 18 years or older to participate. Contestants will have until 11:59pm on October 31st to submit a question, feedback or job search tip. Winner will be randomly selected and will be notified by the Marketing Department on or about November 1st, 2012. Click here to view contest terms and conditions.

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