Category Archives: Interviewing

JMU PR Symposium This Wednesday!

Attention all JMU students out there!

briefcaseDuring this fantastic and informative event, ten public relations professionals from all over Virginia will speak to you about how they got to where they are in the field of public relations with tips and advice to help you get that first job.  The organizations at which these pros currently work include…

Wolf Trap
Newspaper Association of America
JMU Office of Public Affairs
Communications Dept. of YMCA of Greater Richmond

The full day event includes two panels of discussion, provided lunch, and resume/interviewing tips session.  
Panel # 1- 9 a.m. to 10:15 a.m.
Panel #2- 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.
Lunch- 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Resume/Interviewing Tips- 1:45 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The event will be held in Taylor Hall 402 and 404 on the JMU campus. 

Come out and plan for your future in public relations!  If you would like to RSVP to the event, please email


‘Hello’ Phone Interviews

Phone interviews are becoming more prevalent. Especially in today’s economic recession, employers are cutting costphone1 by relying on phone interviews to do two things: 1. Identify and recruit candidates for employment, and 2. Screen candidates in order to narrow the pool of applicants to invite for in-person interviews.

I recently engaged in a phone interview with a potential employer. The below tips and tricks helped me conduct a successful phone interview.

  • Be prepared. Prepare for a phone interview the same way you would an in-person interview. Practice answering potential questions with behavioral, or experienced-based answers.
  • Interview location. Although you can conduct a phone interview in almost any location, make sure to clear the room. Turn off the TV, close your door, and tell friends and family not to enter till you give the OK. Have your resume in view, compile a list of skills and accomplishments to reference, and keep paper handy for note-taking.
  • During the interview. Do not chew gum, smoke, or engage in any activity that you would not do during an in-person interview. Smile, speak slowly and clearly, and take your time. Do not interrupt the interviewer and remember the goal is to make it to a face-to-face interview.

Follow these steps and you will be one step closer to an in-person interview!

Stand Out in the Croud by “Double-Hitting”

Want a way to get your name to stand out amongst the hundreds of other job seekers?

The concept is referred to as “Double-hitting,” which was first referred to in a New York Times article titled “A Cover Letter is Not Expendable.” Liz Wolgemuth from U.S News’ The Inside Job also reports on this concept.

First send your resume and cover letter through email, then send in a hard copy a few days later. This presents your name from getting lost among all the other applicants. The New York Times article also mentioned attaching a hand-written note to the hard copy you send in saying “Second submission; I’m very interested.” You could even take the hard copy personally in to the company and tell them you also submitted your resume and cover letter online.

This tactic has been known to double your chances of getting an interview because the company can see the job seeker’s persistence and extreme interest in the job. Don’t be afraid to use your creativity and make that extra effort while your applying for jobs!

Preparing for Tough Interview Questions

As an undergrad, I have been told over and over again to prepare for tough interview questions by practicing my responses. For example, I have experienced the dreaded: Tell me about a time when you have failed? Tell me about a time when you  didn’t get along with a teammate? and my personal favorite, What are your weaknesses?

These are not easy questions to answer of the top of your head. Before an interview think about how you would answer these questions and verbally practice doing so. Insert behavioral, or “real world,” experiences  into your answers. Simply saying you work well in teams is not as effective as describing a time when you worked on a team and how your performance made you a good team member.

I came across the below video on YouTube from Brian Krueger, President of Titled “Preparing for the Toughest Interview Questions,” Brain does a good job of concisely and effectively addressing how to answer tough interview questions.

Common Mistakes New Grads Make

I stumbled across an article written in 2007 by Anne Fisher about the 5 Mistakes New Grads Make. Although the optimism meninsuitsof the 2007 job market is the thing of a past, the advice for new grads is still relevant.

1. Keep parents’ involvement to a minimal- Your parents can help expand your network and make professional contacts for you, but make sure you are the one actively searching for and applying for jobs. You will come off as mature and professional if you keep your parents’ help behind the scenes.

2. Manage your social media profiles- Keep in mind posting information to the net makes your profile one Google search away from public knowledge. Make sure your profiles on social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook are appropriate and a good representation of your personal and professional lives. Potential employers do not want to see pictures of your scandalous Halloween costumes or your first keg stand.

3. Network, Network, Network- Let friends and family in your network know you are job hunting. Keep in mind everyone in your network has their own network of professionals they can talk you up to. College alumni associations are another networking resource.

4. Say “Thank you”- When someone goes out of their way to help you with your job search or refers you a potential employer, email or send them a hand-written note expressing your gratitude. New grads are underestimating the impact of a simple ‘thanks.’

5. Appropriate voice-mail greetings- Although a poem or rap directing your caller to leave a message brings a smile to your face, it is not an appropriate greeting for potential employers. Record a mature, respectable message detailing who they have reach and to leave a message.

Interviewing- Hindsight is 20/20


In today’s economy, it seems nearly impossible for a soon-to-be grad to successfully search, apply, and interview for a  job. Having gone on two interviews since September, I have exhibited several do’s and don’ts of interviewing. The following tips will help the interview process go as smoothly as possible:

Do your research. Most, if not all, organizations have company Web sites- this makes finding out about the company’s history, mission, and overall practices ridiculously easy. If the company does not have a Web site, directly request information from them. This shows your interest in the organization and may give you a leg up on the competition.

Do a trial run. Make sure to visit the interview location before the big day. It is interview suicide to show up late. The interviewer doesn’t care if you are “directionally challenged” and got lost on your way there. Try to arrive 10-15 minutes early.

Do bring copies of your resume. The interviewer should have a copy of your resume but make sure to bring extras. This is a must if you have changed your resume, they need the most up-to-date copy. Also, you never know who you’ll meet along the way- you could run into a potential employer on the elevator.

Do dress for success. Please, my peers, look the part. This means ironing or dry cleaning your clothes before the interview. Ladies and gentlemen, wear a suit and a non-offensive (not too brightly colored or patterned) shirt. Do not wear overbearing cologne or perfume, excessive makeup or jewelry. When it comes to professional dress KISS- keep it simple stupid.

Don’t smoke before the interview. This is a perfect time to utilize the non-smoking patch your mom gave you for your birthday. Never show up to an interview smelling like smoke. This may have a negative impact on the interview.

Don’t rely on your resume or application to do the selling. The interviewer has looked over your resume- that’s how you got the interview! Now is the time to expand on and introduce new information to your potential employers. Before the interview, remind yourself “I am the best person for this job”- now you have to show them why. You have to be able to sell yourself and what you have to offer the company.

Don’t lie. Do not lie during an interview. Be truthful to your potential employer. This is the only way to start a good, working relationship. Also, never talk negatively about a past employer or colleague- it is extremely unprofessional.

Don’t ever NOT ask questions. Have a question list prepared and write down or make a mental note of questions throughout the interview. Not asking questions shows a lack of interest in the organization. I was able to make a lasting impression during an interview by asking questions. The recruiter said I asked excellent questions that she had not been asked before. If you are still unsure of what questions to ask, consult the internet Gods, also known as Google. A Google search of “questions to ask during an interview” will result in a plethora of potential questions.

Follow these steps. Be prepared. And get excited for your potential job!