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Career Corner

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

Keyword: interviews

Especially in today's world as technology rapidly advances, employers are conducting digital interviews instead of meeting with applicants in person.  Although this can be more convenient with no travel required, a two-dimensional interview makes it much harder for the applicants to connect with the interviewer since they are not in the same room.  But as digital interviews become increasingly popular among employers, it's essential that you learn how to make this type of interview work for you!

In order to successfully prepare for a digital interview, the first thing to consider is the quality of your camera.  It is important to ensure that your camera provides the professional image required before, not during, an interview.  To do so, simply practice using the camera with a friend to make sure everything will run smoothly during the real thing.  The setup of the camera is also important.  Eye contact is key during a digital interview, so be sure that the camera is at eye level so you can look directly at the camera, not just at the screen.

The background is another important element to the digital interview because you do not want anything to distract interviewers from the main focal point: you.  Backgrounds should be bland and neutral, and the easiest way to have a professional background is to purchase a large poster board.  The other option is to reserve an Interview Room by contacting the Career Center at 301-447-5202 or  Most digital interview software like Skype require a username, so be sure to have a professional username and picture so you can make a great first impression with employers – even before they see you in the interview. 

Although you are talking to the interviewer on a screen, it is important that you talk to them, not at them.  By talking to them as you would if you were having this interview face-to-face, it will be easier for the interviewer to connect with you.  You should always maintain good eye contact with the interviewer.  By avoiding eye contact you appear to lack self-confidence, and it actually distracts the interviewer from focusing on what you are saying.  Don't forget that you are on the air throughout the entire interview and that everything you do will be perceived either positively or negatively by the interviewer.

A final thing to remember is to always wait five minutes before shutting down your equipment.  Although this type of interview can be stressful and you're glad that it is over, don't rush away from the camera.  Wait until the interviewer's computer is shut down, take the time to reflect on how the interview went, and congratulate yourself on completing a digital interview!

As we finish up our series on the top five most common interview questions, the fifth and final question is: What experiences have prepared you to succeed in this position?  Employers are looking for candidates who can take what they have learned from all of their previous experiences and make a positive contribution to the company or organization.  Since this question requires a carefully planned answer, keep reading to learn how you can prepare a great answer to this question so you can really impress the interviewer!

When faced with this question, it is very important to relate your experiences to the requirements of the position you are applying for.  These experiences can range from anything like work and research to student and volunteer activities.  No matter what kind of experience it is, the key is to be able to explain how those experiences have prepared you for this new position.  This is your biggest opportunity to summarize all your experiences from a learning perspective.  Employers are looking to see what value you will bring to this position, so be sure to comment on how you have benefitted all the companies and organizations for which you have previously worked.

Don't be afraid to share specific examples which apply to your desired position.  Examples are the easiest way for employers to see how you have handled a situation in the past and how you will handle a similar situation on the job in the future.  One helpful way to successfully share an example is the STAR Technique.  To organize an answer that incorporates an example, ask yourself the following four questions: What was the SITUATION? What TASK(S) did you identify that had to be completed? What ACTION did you take? What was the RESULT of your actions?  By answering these four questions, you present your example in an appealing way to the interviewer because it shows that you took the time to prepare a detailed response to this question. 

If you have any questions concerning any of this information, please do not hesitate to contact the Career Center at 301-447-5202, 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!  To learn how to answer more of these common interview questions, check out the Career Corner Blog on the Career Center's website.

The approach of various job and internship fairs brings with it the inevitable interview.  Interviews can be nerve wracking, but the important thing to remember is that like in everything else, preparation is essential in order to present yourself in the best possible way.  Throughout this spring semester, I will be covering the five most basic interview questions, and this article covers the “tell me about yourself” question.

Although this question may seem simple and straightforward, the way in which you answer this question is very important since it will most likely be the first question you are asked during any interview.  Although it is tempting to present your whole life story, your response to this particular question should really only be between one or two minutes.  Keep your answer short to ensure that you are retaining your interviewer’s attention.  If you answer this question for more than two minutes, you run the risk of either boring the interviewer or losing their attention, and clearly neither of those are good options.  Although you may be nervous, it is important to remember to talk to the interviewer, not at them, meaning that you should always gauge the interviewer’s reaction to what you’re saying and remember that an interview should feel like a conversation.

This question presents the opportunity to verbally express the highlights of your resume, like your general goals, skills and background.  It is also important to focus on the particular skills and experiences that you will apply to that specific position within the organization.  To help prepare for any interview, you should mentally organize a response to this question.  Since first impressions are key and this question will be the first time that you will actually be able to talk about your resume with the interviewer, it is important that you have a coherent and organized response prepared.  Even though it should not sound like you have this answer memorized word-for-word, you should practice your two minute response until you feel comfortable with your answer. 

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

Contrary to popular belief, not all interviews or business transactions take place in an office. Many times employers will ask to interview you in a dining setting to see how you handle yourself in a different environment. Regardless of your professional field, there will always be events where you must prove that you know how to present yourself and your company in a professional manner. But don't worry - the Etiquette Dinner is one way to learn how to conduct yourself in this setting!

This semester's Etiquette Dinner will be hosted by Michael True, the Director of the Internship Etiquette DinnerCenter at Messiah College. He has been working in this field for 22 years now, and this will be his third year hosting this great event at the Mount. In the spring of 2010, Mr. True released a website called, which is a website that helps students develop professional skills during their internship or co-op experience. Forbes magazine picked this website as one of the "top 100 websites for your career" for the second year in a row!

The Mount is obviously very excited to welcome back Michael True to host this great event, but what exactly will you learn? Michael True can teach you essential skills you will need in a professional dining setting, such as holding your plate and drink in one hand while shaking hands with the other professionals present at the event. It is also an important reminder to always have your nametag on the right side of your chest. When you shake hands with someone, their eyes are automatically directed to your nametag and they will associate your name with your face as you shake their hand.

Michael True will offer some other helpful tips that are important to know. For example, when rising from your seat, you should never drape your napkin over the back of your chair. Always fold the napkin and place it next to your plate before rising from your seat. It is also important to note that interviewers typically pay for the meal. With that being said, remember to bring cash just in case and always wait to see if the interviewer is ordering dessert before you order - it's just polite!

These small yet significant details can really affect your reputation as a professional mature adult in the business world, so be sure to be aware of them as you take your next step into the future. To hear other important tips from Michael True, sign up to attend the Etiquette Dinner at the Career Center. But hurry - there is limited spacing available!

The Career Center also thanks Enactus and Edward Jones for making this great opportunity available to students. We hope to see you all there!

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