Alumni Share Advice on Preparing for an Interview

We’ve recently asked alumni to share their career advice on a variety of topics via LinkedIn. We weren’t surprised to learn Pacific University alumni provide great advice. This month we’re sharing advice from alumni who covered interview tips.

Kerry Lohr ’71 is a self-employed instructor of Tai Chi and a writer and editor. She reminds us to “Listen to what you're being asked. If you don't understand a question, ask for clarification, don't try to bluff your way through and be honest.”

Honesty was a prevalent theme with several mentions from alumni including Dalton Douglas MHA ’11 who is a healthcare informatics consultant. Dalton said, “Please be honest. The truth will always come out. Also, ask the interviewers questions also. It's equally about them as it is about you.”

Another common theme was research. Daniel O’Malley ‘06, who happens to be one of our colleagues here at Pacific University said, “Do your research on the organization(s) you're trying to get into, regardless of the position. Really consider 'why this organization', and practice articulating that. If it doesn't add strength to answers for some the questions you may be asked, it might inform your own questions for them. The more tailored and thoughtful your questions, (or answers), the more you will stand out as a serious and studious candidate.”

Jason Biggs ’04 who is a project manager at OverNite Software Inc, advised not talking too much. At first glance this might seem counterintuitive, but Jason explains this well. “Pay attention to the balance of the conversation, i.e. don't talk all the time and don't be monosyllabic in responses. Usually, the best interviews are roughly 50% talk time between interviewer and interviewee - highly technical positions may be different because of the nature of the questions.”

TJ Blair ‘03, a CPA and Senior Accountant at OIA Global adds to this with a reminder that interviews are an important way to make a connection with your potential employer and colleagues. “I have found that the interviewer is looking equally as hard at the candidates' personality as he is at credentials. If you have gotten to the point of being invited to the interview, then you more than likely have the credentials necessary for the open position. The interviewer wants to know whether or not you will be a good fit for the company, both professionally and socially. Therefore, I would recommend being yourself and trying to make a positive connection with the interviewer. Try to make them feel like they are talking to a co-worker rather than a candidate.”

Ryan Rishling ’05, a careers specialist at College of Southern Nevada, gave some great reminders about the basics, “For the love of God look at the website. You can learn a lot about a company, its culture and how easy you can move upward by looking at the information they leave for you. Finally, throwing clothes in the dryer is not ironing. Spend the five bucks to get your clothes pressed.”

This is just a sampling of the excellent advice our alumni share via LinkedIn. To add your two cents to this conversation or to start a new one, join the Pacific University group on LinkedIn. If you’re not yet on LinkedIn and would like some help setting up an account, check out the LinkedIn Grad Guide for a video tutorial.

Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014