Don’t Sweat the Interview: A Guide for Successful Interviewing

Don’t Sweat the Interview: A Guide for Successful Interviewing

The University of Dallas’s OPCD was pleased to have Elliott Freise, a representative of Enterprise Holdings, speak at a recent Lunch and Learn event. As the Talent Acquisition Manager for Enterprise’s Dallas Group, Freise has accumulated a great deal of experience in the interviewing and recruiting process. She spoke to a group of UD students on interviewing successfully and shared common interview questions and ways to prepare. Freise presented five steps in the process: job hunting, resume crafting, applying, preparing through research and reflection, and finally, interviewing.

In respect to job hunting, Freise recommended reviewing job boards such as Indeed.com, CareerBuilder.com, Craigslist.com, and Glassdoor.com, “the Yelp of job hunting.” Reviewing company websites, peeking into company culture through social media, and finding sites and articles on BusinessWeek.com, Forbes.com, Collegegrad.com, and Experience.com are all good ideas, she said. Finally, she stressed the importance of networking: “There is no such thing as bad networking. Practice interpersonal interaction, so that you become a pro by the time of the interview. Do all that you can now!”

The next step is crafting the resume. Freise encouraged checking multiple times that all information is correct, and admitted that when she sees typos, a resume becomes useless. “A recruiter spends approximately seven seconds looking at it. Why? It only takes that long to discern whether they want to either meet you or not meet you.” However, while a resume can secure an interview, it does not secure a job.  It is necessary to put thought and care into it, but the heavy preparation should be set aside for the job interview.

As for applications, Freise advised filling them out carefully, because errors are easily made. “Double and triple check contact information. Fill in every box, even if lengthy, and don’t say ‘see resume’, because that reflects laziness.”

Freise made several suggestions on how to prepare for a successful job interview. “Know the company and know yourself,” she said. Freise shared her routinely first questions when conducting an interview. Her first is, “Tell me about yourself.” To answer well, she said it is best to “practice your elevator pitch of who, what, why. Have three to five sentences about your education, experience, and career goals, short-term and long-term. What are your skills, qualifications, values, and weaknesses? Practice! Do a mock interview or film yourself so you know your nervous tics, such as not knowing what to do with your hands.”

In order to make a good impression, Freise stressed the importance of being conscientious of both non-verbal and verbal communication, saying, “Presentation is everything. Smile and offer a firm handshake. Show them you are happy to be there.” Recruiters will gauge delivery and animation, presentation of ideas, interest in the position, and desire to improve and have goals.

Freise’ second question is always, “What do you know about the company?” To prepare, she suggested doing research on the company beforehand. This includes looking for things that are personally important such as shared values and the company’s vision statement and having goals in mind.

Freise mentioned several questions to count on being asked in a job interview, so it’s best to put some thought into how you’ll answer them. Friese says that your answers should highlight your work ethic, leadership skills, flexibility and your career goals. She added that it’s highly likely that you’ll be asked what are called behavior-based questions, which begin with: “Can you tell me about a time when…”

When asked for an example of adversity and what you learned from it, provide a positive result and improvement. Freise shared that she had heard “awesome stories of improvement in interviews.” Another common question is, “Do you have any questions?” Freise advised having three to five ready, ones that showcase a willingness for growth and interest, such as “How quickly can I advance?,” or “What challenges might someone encounter in this position?”

Freise had several thoughts on wrapping up the interview: “Be prepared with questions, make sure you completely understand the position, and ask for the next step in the interview process. Express interest, and say that you are looking forward to the next step.” She also said to inquire when you can expect to hear back from them, so that you know when it is appropriate to follow up. She recommended sending a thank you note by mail or email, either the same day or next day, and following up by phone if the company has not called by the time they said they were going to.

A personal deal-breaker to Freise, as an experienced interviewer, is the interviewee’s professionalism, and a lot is included in that: simple details such as punctuality, bringing a resume, no profanity, and steady eye contact. “Those things go a long way.”

A thank you to Elliott Freise for her time and willingness to offer advice to UD students at the OPCD’s Lunch and Learn!

To schedule a mock interview, set up an appointment with a career counselor, or any other questions, click here.

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