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Career Corner

Current Career Topics for Mount St. Mary's University Students

Date: Feb 2014

No matter what company or organization you apply to, there will undoubtedly be some kind of competition among applicants for the job. That is why during any interview, employers will most likely ask you the following questions: "Why are you interested in this organization?" or "Why are you interested in this job?" By preparing an answer to this question before the interview, you will stand out among the other candidates, so keep reading to learn how to perfect an answer to this question!

There is a very simple rule to follow when answering this question in an interview: ALWAYS have an answer to this question! Whether you are applying for an entry level position or a position at your dream job, you should always have a well prepared response to convince the employer to hire you. Employers receive numerous applications every day for various positions within their company or organization, so they are looking for the applicants that went above and beyond in their preparation for the interview. They are looking for individuals who really want to work at their company and who show a sincere interest in helping the company or organization fulfill their purpose.

So when you are answering this question, be sure to share an informed interest and passion in their mission. But in order to do so, you will have to complete some research before the interview. Some helpful things to look for are the organization's mission, products, size, reputation and history. Most of these elements can be found on the organization's website, and be sure to research if the company has been in the news recently. However, it is not enough to show the interviewer that you have completed some research before the interview. You should also include in your answer an explanation of how you can make a contribution to the company's goals. Talk about their needs and how you can fulfill those needs. Be confident in your skills that you will be able to benefit the company or organization.

If you have any questions concerning any of this information, please do not hesitate to contact the Career Center at 301-447-5202, Career-Center@msmary.edu or simply stop by the Career Center to make an appointment. The Career Center offers interviewing tips and mock interview sessions to help students be as prepared as possible for the interviewing process, so be sure to take advantage of this great resource. And to learn how to answer more of these common interview questions, check out the Career Corner Blog on the Career Center's website.

            As we continue our series on the top five most common interview questions, the second question is one that you will undoubtedly be asked in ANY interview: “Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses.”  Although this question may seem straightforward, it is important to prepare a well-thought out answer to this question, and here are some tips to provide an answer that will make you stand out as a candidate to the interviewer. 

            When answering this question, you should always start with your strengths to give a positive first impression.  But when you do list your strengths, it is important to relate your skills to the position that you are currently applying for.  Provide specific examples of how you have used your strengths in a school, work, or even a social setting.  Examples provide evidence that you really do have the Strengths_weaknessesexperience necessary to succeed in the position you are applying for, so you should always have a variety of examples prepared to back up your claims.  Some personal characteristics that interviewers usually look for are: loyalty, a strong work ethic, and good interpersonal and communication skills.  Typically for this answer, you should really only give your top 3 or 4 strengths so that you do not completely overwhelm the interviewer, but make sure that your strengths will make you stand out from the crowd!

             The much harder part of this question involves sharing your weaknesses with the employer.  As humans, we all have faults and weaknesses, but the trick is to present those weaknesses in the most positive light possible during an interview.  You should give 1-2 weaknesses that do not directly disqualify you from receiving the position.  By asking this question, employers are looking to see if you are self-aware and are taking steps to better yourself.  So when concluding this part of the question, it is important to put a positive spin on your weaknesses by mentioning that you are working to overcome them. 

             If you have any questions concerning any of this information, please do not hesitate to contact the Career Center at 301-447-5202, Career-Center@msmary.edu or simply stop by the Career Center to make an appointment.  The Career Center offers interviewing tips and mock-interview sessions to help students be as prepared as possible for the interviewing process, so be sure to take advantage of this great resource!

            As most of you may know, LinkedIn has become the world’s largest professional network, which is why everyone should take advantage of this great networking tool.  The important thing to remember is that it is never too early or too late to create a profile on LinkedIn, but the sooner you do, the better!  If you are unsure of where to begin, keep reading for some great tips on how to get started on LinkedIn – the right way!

            As the name of this social media network suggests, LinkedIn is NOT Facebook.  One of the most common mistakes that young professionals make is that they treat LinkedIn and Facebook as the same thing.  Facebook exists so you can keep in touch with friends and family.  LinkedIn, on the LinkedInother hand, exists so that you can connect with people who will actually help you advance in your professional career.  When connecting with people on LinkedIn, always be sure to ask yourself why exactly you are connecting with them before you accept or invite them to connect with you.

            Another common mistake young professionals can make involves their profile picture.  This picture is the first thing potential employers will see when they look up your profile so it is very important that you make a good first impression – even before you meet them!  In your profile picture, you should be wearing professional dress with a professional background.  Young professionals should also be aware that they should include all previous work and volunteer experiences in their LinkedIn profile.  You never know what experiences employers are looking for, so it is important to make your profile as versatile as possible.

            It is no surprise that LinkedIn is one of the first social media sites employers will use to research potential candidates for a position in their company because LinkedIn allows your previous and current employers to “endorse” you directly on the site, meaning that they can recommend you for various skills and even write you a reference letter.  Once you create your profile, you can also upload any projects you have completed throughout your education and work experience.  This allows potential employers to see that you really do have the experience necessary to benefit their company or organization. 

            If you would like more information or if you have any questions, stop by the LinkedIn Information Session and Workshop hosted by ’94 Alum and Senior Recruiter at Paypal Kevin Dunn on Tuesday, February 4 in the O’Hara Dining Hall from 5 to 7 P.M.  Pizza will be served and come dressed for a FREE professional photo for your networking profile.  Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to start or improve your LinkedIn profile!

 
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