Thursday, September 17, 2009

Johns Hopkins SDS Interview Techniques and Etiquette Panel

This marks the second year the Johns Hopkins Second Decade Society has held their Interview Techniques and Etiquette Panel at the Homewood Campus.

Below are some reference materials so the attendees can follow up:

Being a big fan of Manager Tools pod casts here are few that a student about to enter the job market should listen to:

I would also recommend their new podcast series, CareerTools.

Breaking through the clutter:

Make your resume and cover letter stand out: I remember back in the late nineties waiting for my interview to begin at an investment bank in the WTC complex. Sitting in the HR department, I looked over and saw an inbox stacked with resumes, they were all folded and creased. They didn't lay flat and I'm sure were hard to photo copy as well as handle and read. I started from that point forward sending all my resumes and cover letters via USPS Priority envelopes. I took one more step and placed them inside a manila envelope with a label and the persons name on that as well. Thus when the priority envelope is thrown away you still have a great presentation of your resume.

High quality resume paper is heavy, you put that in a normal envelope and it will come out with permanent creases.

Most likely the HR department are your gate keepers, make life as easy as possible for them.

What are the pros and cons?

1. This candidate is so interested they went these extra steps to deliver

2. It could skip some of the normal work flows that resumes get processed through.

3. It guarantees that your resume and cover letter are delivered in a pristine format. No vagaries of whether your word doc formatted correctly.

4. Most people like opening up packages, you're information is now a professional looking package

5. It's expensive $4.95 per envelope, I think when I was using them it was ~$2

6. Maybe the employer gets upset because it didn't come through the proper delivery format. On their website, via bits and bytes. Sure that's a concern, but you cover yourself by submitting the requested information the standard way. I've done hiring via electronic job boards at jobs past and the incremental cost for a candidate to submit a resume is low thus you get a lot of resumes many of them not qualified.

People tend to take the pray and spray approach.

If I had a resume show up on my desk in a priority envelope and they let me know they also submitted via the normal channels and the resume was a fit. That would stand out. Maybe others would disagree, but from my perspective it stands out.

Research your interviewers:

1. Use Linkedin - Linkedin can provide an amazing amount of information about your interviewers to understand their backgrounds. What school, activities, etc... These are all useful data points to help seed your interview conversation. It can help make your interview more memorable and connected

Books to prepare for your interview:

Hiring the Best: Manager's Guide to Effective Interviewing and Recruiting: I found this book back when the first edition was out and it's been useful in my hiring ever since. It's covers great behavioral questions and it's from the hiring manager's perspective. If you want to be fully prepared for tough questions that will strain you preparation, read this book and prepare answers for all of the relevant questions.

Learn about what makes you tick:

1. Take a Myers-Briggs test online

2. Disc profile if you want to pay for it

Key point I'm making here is the better you know yourself the better you can represent yourself.

One last point:

Your about to be a Hopkins graduate, you've probably worked really hard. I know how driven most of the students were when I attended. You need to put the same level of effort into your job search.

You can read a thousand different books on finding a job - the difference between the people who succeed and those who don't are the ones that actually take action. There will always be the next book on X, many people just keep buying, reading, and shelving versus actioning.

Do a great job, be successful, join SDS, and present here in 10 years yourself.