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Interviewing: General Advice

How to answer the “strengths” question

  • Tell us about your strengths.
  • What would you say are your three greatest strengths?
  • What is your greatest strength?

More than likely, you are going to be asked a question like the examples above during an interview. Surprisingly, this can be a difficult question for many students to answer. “Should I only talk about technical strengths that relate to the position?” “Are certain strengths better to mention than others?” Although strengths-based questions can seem tricky, with a little reflection and preparation these questions can be a great opportunity to make a positive impression on employers. As a mnemonic, there are three basic components to developing a good strengths answer: Reflect, Select, and Support. 

Reflect

What are you good at? Think back to previous jobs, projects, or organizations where you feel you really thrived in your role. What was it about those situations that you enjoyed doing? Maybe you found … 

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Is it OK to lie in an interview to say the "right" thing?

Let me just say it, no matter how you cut it, lying in an interview is not a good idea and could destroy your chances of landing the job.  You are there to sell yourself, not the perfect version of yourself (and nobody’s perfect!)  A little embellishment might be good in terms of expressing interest for a particular job or industry–vs- the ‘I’ll take anything I can get’ approach, which won’t go over well either (never act desperate to get a job, even though you may be feeling that way!).  Maybe you are interviewing with your top 5 companies, but obviously one is probably your ultimate favorite. It’s OK to express a lot of interest in the others as well and be as enthusiastic with the 1st as you are with the 5th. In time, you will learn which one is a better fit for you.

Here are the … 

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Put the "I" in Your Interviews

So many of us are conditioned to understand and appreciate the importance of teamwork. Teamwork, of course, is unavoidable in most work environments, and we all want to talk about how good we work collectively. Nobody wants to sounds arrogant by bragging about their accomplishments. But, there is one situation in particular where talking about yourself is socially acceptable – and that is a job interview.

Of course an employer wants to hear that you have made successful contributions to teams. But they also want to know the “I” and not just the “we”. Unless you’ll be bringing your entire team to your new job, an interviewer wants to know what your specific successes and capabilities are.

Think about the STAR method for behavioral-based questions. As a refresher, STAR is an acronym for situation, task, action, and result. You use this method to respond to questions that start something like … 

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The “Not-So-Secret” Secret to Job Search Success; Pt. II: Effectively Communicating Research to an Employer

Just in case you missed part one of this blog, we looked at an interesting paradox. Most students say they are well aware that they need to research a company/position before a job interview, yet ECS’s number one complaint from recruiters during on-campus interviews is that “students did not seem to know enough about the company or the job.”

I really do believe that most engineering students are attempting to research companies before interviews, but I think there might be two possible explanations for why this research isn’t getting through to the employer: (a) students may not know how to research effectively or, more importantly, (b) students may not know how to clearly communicate this research to the employer.  We focused on part (a) in my last blog post, so this week let’s talk about conveying that information during an interview.

Remember that the main goal of your … 

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Use Informational Interviewing to Develop Job Prospects

The holidays are fast approaching.  Hooray! Time to rest, relax, and take a break from school work and the job search. Right?? Well, almost.

Actually, winter break is the perfect time to practice networking and conduct informational interviews.  Remember your dad’s coworker’s wife who works for Honda? Oh yeah – maybe you should talk to her.

What is an informational interview?

It is a one-on-one conversational with someone who has a job you might like, who is employed by a specific company that you’re interested in learning about, or who works within an industry you might want to enter.  The purpose of this is to gather advice and information. Let’s make this clear: you are not interviewing for a job/asking for a job.  You are having this conversation strictly to learn, and hopefully, build a relationship and your network.  If you do this right, you … 

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