Penn State Career Services offers job interview insight

By Molly Sheerer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- With summer plans in the works and students looking for full-time job opportunities, Penn State Career Services offers helpful hints and knowledgeable insight for students on the look out for internship opportunities or securing a future career.

Director of Career Services Jeff Garis believes that students should first feel confident if they have been called back for an interview.
 
“Companies don’t interview everyone,” Garis said. “Students are screened by their resumes; it’s definitely a positive sign if students are called for an interview.”
 
Penn State Career Services’ site includes several good tips for interviews along with resume and cover letter help. Garis  offers details about what students should expect in an interview, along with ways to go about their job search.
 
Garis says interviewers ask three kinds of questions: content, form and behavioral.
 
“There aren’t as many content questions as you would assume, but these are the ‘right versus wrong’ questions,” Garis said. “They test what you know about your field. Form questions are the most commonly asked; they are seen as predictors of job success and include questions that tap into a student’s motivation and communication skills. Lastly, behavioral questions are becoming increasingly popular. These questions ask a student to recall a situation where he or she exhibited leadership skills.”
 
Students should think about these question types before an interview to be prepared. Garis suggests students think about their core experiences, their leadership roles and any situations that have involved conflict resolution skills, communication skills or leadership initiative.
 
Garis says the form question has a component students need to be aware of as well -- strengths and weaknesses.
 
“This question is almost always asked,” Garis said. “When answering, students should start with listing their weakness. Students should give one genuine weakness, acknowledge how they’re working to improve upon it and move onto their greatest strength, finishing with a positive trait.”
 
It won’t just be the interviewer asking questions though. Garis says students should always have a question prepared when asked if they have any questions for the possible employer. Garis suggests that students do their research beforehand and when asking the question, reference something on the employer’s website and ask the interviewer to tell them more about that.
 
Garis encourages students to establish relationships with their individual college’s specialized career office as well as with Penn State’s Career Services. Both offices can help with internship and full-time job searches.
 
While Garis doesn’t fully support the notion of “it’s not what you know, but who you know,” he does know how important networking is.
 
“You have to know something, but networking helps demonstrate what you know,” Garis said. “Students have to learn how to market themselves to make the most of networking.”
 
In regards to interview attire, Garis believes it’s not a time to make a social statement. While most offices will expect a candidate to be in conservative business attire, some offices have a different culture and atmosphere. Garis says it’s all right, if students are in doubt, to check in advance what the expected attire is. For more information, the Career Services site has a page devoted to interview prep including attire.
 
Students who are looking for help in their internship or job search process are invited to stop in Career Services. Walk-ins are welcome and they offer scheduled appointments with career counselors. For more information, visit Penn State Career Services.
 
Last Updated February 07, 2013