Students Sharpen Interview Skills in Chase Center Workshop
February 13, 2017
“Recruiters give our students high marks on resumes, cover letters, and other basics,” Chase Career Center Career advisor Rachel Snyder told Isenberg undergraduates in Chase’s Interview Ninja workshop. Feedback from recruiters, however, indicates that in interviews, Isenberg students need to better demonstrate how they are the best “fit” for a position, she remarked. And they need to embed those messages in a better understanding of the company and its industry.
That, emphasized Snyder, calls for research skills in mining strategic information about all three (i.e., company, industry, and job position) and integrating the results into persuasive interview conversations. “Remember,” she told the students, “this is marketing. Preparation and practice are critical.”
Chase, she continued, gives every Isenberg student the resources to succeed in their interviews. That includes online video tutorials and interactive mock interviews that allow them to practice and hone their skills.
Much of the 90-minute workshop focused on company and industry research skills and the strategic integration of research into student dialogs with interviewers. To that end, Snyder took students on a systematic tour of company and industry databases, including Vault Guide, IBISWorld, and Hoover’s Reports. (Those databases and many others are readily accessible through Chase and the UMass Libraries.) Seeking background information on behalf of a prospective Sales & Business Development Representative job with Oracle, she showed students how to extract and analyze company and industry trends, strategies, and opportunities.
In interviews, you want to be conversant with a company’s business strategies and performance, Snyder told the students. Cast the conversation, she said, in an understanding of the company’s business streams and industry competitors. It’s also advantageous, she added, to understand the company and industry’s keywords and jargon.
The job description itself, she continued, may call for job specifics and industry nuances in addition to position description. Understand those specifics and make a case why you are the best fit for the job, given your skills, experiences, and interests. During an interview, there is a time to pitch yourself, citing your skills, aspirations, and accomplishments. You will not be seen as bragging, Snyder emphasized. Just be sure to be conversational, not forced. In other words, practice, practice, practice.
The Changing World of Interviews
“In recent years, interviewers have become skilled in making behavioral inferences about candidates based on their accomplishments, experiences, and answers to evocative interview questions,” notes Chase Career Center Director Nic Wegman. “Through workshops, seminars, and advising, we are preparing Isenberg students to excel in these ‘behavioral’ interviews. Having students broaden their focus to include company and industry trends is part of this preparation. In that, we have trusted recruiters to thank. Their input and support in our continued progress and quality is invaluable to Chase and all Isenberg students.”
The Interview Ninja session was the first of seven Chase workshops in the spring semester’s Career Navigator Seminar Series. Future workshops will explore co-ops, advanced use of LinkedIn, professional branding, and other topics.