Sealing the deal: Interviewing skills key to landing good job

Monday, December 18, 2006
The Army recruiters were one of the first to set up their information table for the Career Fair that will be held at the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau. (Diane L. Wilson)

With new jobs opening in the area, potential employees are shining their shoes, updating their resumes and hoping to stand out from the crowd.

Those who come to an interview knowing something about the company they're applying to will make a lasting impression. Learning as much as possible bout the company is as simple as logging on to the Internet. Most companies have web sites.

"Knowledge of the company is critical," said Dr. Gary Johnson, Dean of the Harrison School of Business at Southeast Missouri State University. "Employers want to believe that you want to work for them specifically. The only way you can do that is if you have done some homework and know what the business is about. It's a turnoff to employers if a candidate doesn't convey a knowledge of what the company is about."

Researching a business is not as critical for people applying for jobs requiring less skill and training, but it does help, says Jerry Arnold, a staffing specialist with Workforce Employment Solutions in Cape Girardeau. It isn't something he would base a hiring decision on, Arnold said, but it does show initiative. Public libraries and state agencies have computers available to the public so candidates who don't have home computers can research a company.

Barb Wachter, employment administrator at Proctor and Gamble says employees should not be discouraged from asking questions about the company or worry about looking unprepared.

"The more they know the better, but there are no specific things they have to know," Wachter said. "The interview is a good opportunity for them to ask questions. We know they are interested and want to find out about us."

Applicants at all levels should have a good resume.

"They should look at everything they have done," Wachter said. "Think about different situations they were in."

Especially for recent college graduates a resume gives a prospective employer an idea of what that employee can become. A grade point average, a description of extracurricular activities, evidence of work experience or an internship and a list of references let an employer know what she can expect from an applicant.

"Some employers look to see if you have earned some of your college expenses," said Johnson. "If you can show on your resume or in an interview that you worked to defray some of the costs, not depending on loans, that sounds good to employers.

"Employers are looking at time and commitment, trying to find evidence in your past and college experience. They want your time and commitment."

An applicant should come to an interview "poised, confident but humble," Johnson said. Good eye contact and an engaging smile go a long way toward demonstrating that an applicant has a good attitude and good people skills.

"The worst thing in a job is a nay-sayer," Johnson said.

Appearance counts.

Not all jobs require a suit, but all jobs do require cleanliness and an appearance that shows a sense of personal pride, Wachter and Arnold said. For some jobs jeans are appropriate at an interview, but they should be washed and in good repair.

"You have only one chance to make first impression," said Arnold.

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