Tips for Interviews and Portfolios

30 04 2014

By Nicole Kiefert (@nicole_kiefert)

Graduating can be exciting, but the thought of entering the real world can be terrifying. What do you do with your free time without homework? How do you find a job? How do you become an adult? Luckily, UW Oshkosh helps to prepare students for post-graduation real world situations.

With services to help you find and apply for jobs, places to get your resume and portfolios critiqued, and mock interviews to prepare you for potential job interviews, UWO wants you to succeed.

I talked to Ben Bissett, one of the students who participated in the mock interviews in the Student Success Center on April 17. He sat down with two employers, one from Milwaukee and one from Oshkosh, and went through the interviewing process as if it were real. Although the mock interviews may not be for a real job, they are still a beneficial experience and the proper amount of preparation should be put into the process. Bissett said he prepared for the interview, doing research, updating his resume, LinkedIn profile and portfolio.

Even if the mock interview does not result in getting you a job, it gives you a great experience before you graduate and interview in a real situation.

“It was great to get experience,” Bissett said. “I’m graduating in May, so meeting with two people who are actually involved with the hiring for their companies is a great experience.”

Here are some tips for portfolios and the interviewing process.

Portfolio

If you are applying for a job that requires some creativity, such as public relations, editorial, advertising and social media, it is good to bring a portfolio to interviews. Not only does a portfolio expand your resume, it gives your potential employer proof of your creative abilities.

Your portfolio should contain your resume, a list of three to six references, letters of recommendation, any academic awards won and, of course, your work. You should have about 15-25 pages in your portfolio, and make sure to keep it updated. The best or most recent work should be at the front for the employer to see right away.

Interviewing

Make sure you do your research. The interviewer could ask what you like about the company, what drew you there, or why you want to work there. Be prepared to answer anything the person might ask, and remember that they know the answers so you can’t make one up.

Plan to sell yourself to the employer. The person does not know all the amazing things you have accomplished, so now is your time to tuck away the modesty and do a little bragging. Pick three to five main selling points about your skills, training, personality, or experiences, and be ready to talk them up. Be ready to answer questions about your strengths and weaknesses, and always state how you are overcoming your weaknesses.

Dress professionally. No one is going to hire someone dressed in sweatpants or stained shirts. Wear solid, dark, neutral colors like black, dark grey, navy or brown. Men should wear a suit and women should wear a pant or skirt suit. Shirts should be conservative colors, fits, and necklines.There should be minimal jewelry for both genders, and shoes should be polished and match your belt.

Be on time. Showing up right at 9 a.m. might be OK for class, but employers are not going to want someone who barely strolls in on time. They are looking for someone who is prompt and dependable.

Even if you had to wake up at the crack of dawn for your interview and you are feeling kind of groggy, show enthusiasm. If you are upbeat, confident and courteous, you will have a better chance than if you are falling asleep in your chair asking where the nearest coffee shop is located.

You should send a thank-you note to the employer the day after your interview, expressing your appreciation to him or her for taking the time to meet with you.

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