The Five Most Difficult Interview Questions And How To Answer Them

21 07 2015

By Grace Wardin


If you are interviewing with different businesspeople, chances are that they will ask you different questions based on the business or personalities of the staff members.

Some employers, especially those who focus on hiring creative and unique employees, may ask you uncommon or unusual questions, such as “Describe the color yellow to someone who is blind.” For those types of organizations you need to be prepared for anything.

But there are some questions that many, if not most, employers ask. Here’s how to answer those common questions:

  1.  “Tell me about yourself.”

Ah, yes. This question is often asked right off the bat and must be expected by all interviewees. Have a rehearsed (but not overly simulated) response. Keep your answer to a minute or two at most. Cover four topics: early years, education, work history, and recent career experience. Focus on the last point the most. Oh, and keep it clean! Don’t include what you do on the weekends if your main hobby is binge drinking.

  1. “Tell me about a time when a solution didn’t work.”

Employers want to know if you’ve learned from your mistakes. Answering a question that has a negative aspect to it is difficult, so have a few examples in mind of a time when your work could have been improved. Explain what you did to fix the situation (if anything), and why. Explain what you would do differently in the future. Also, be sure to have the opposite of this question in mind too, such as situations where you delivered superb work to a previous employer and why you were proud of it.

  1. “Why did you leave your previous employer, or why are you leaving your present job?”

Employers understand that the economy has caused some employers to downsize, so don’t be ashamed if this was the case with your last job. If you were fired for performance issues, it’s best to merely say you “parted ways” and re-focus the discussion on how your skill set matches the position you are applying for. If you currently have a job, focus on why you’re seeking greater opportunity, challenges and responsibility.

  1. “What can you tell me about this company?”

Do your homework and research the background and mission/vision statements of the company you’re interviewing for. This question usually catches people off guard since many don’t think to look up the overall goals of the company. People typically just know the job description inside and out, which is excellent, but not the only knowledge they need going into the interview. Know the names of the president and CEO, along with achievements and milestones of the company. Employers want to know that you’re interested in more than just the job.

  1. “Why should I hire you?”

Finish strong! This question is almost always asked in interviews, and many are unprepared to answer it, causing their answer to be vague and predictable. Before the interview, closely review the job description and qualifications to identify the skills and knowledge that are critical to the position. Illustrate why you are the most qualified candidate for this job by identifying experiences from your past that demonstrate those skills and knowledge.

Stressing The Little Things

7 07 2015

By Stephen Knoll

Stephen Knoll-150When preparing for a job interview, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to nail down your interviewing skills. Shoring up your resume and practicing your answers ahead of time are great strategies and will certainly help you, but there are smaller things that need to be taken care of as well.

Interpersonal communication is a bigger factor than many interviewees realize. It is important to remember that almost everything you do in an interview is being reviewed and judged by the interviewer. “Non-verbal cues definitely play into my impression of a candidate’s overall communication skills,” says Karl Hughes, director of technology at Packback, which specializes in e-textbook rentals. Handshakes, eye contact, verbal responses, facial expressions, body language, manners, etiquette — all of these little things are pieces of yourself that you need to be aware of when interviewing.

Body language is very important, since no one wants to hire a person who is visibly disinterested. That means no slouching or other lazy positions. However, having a perfect, upright posture isn’t always necessary either; it depends on the situation and type of interview. The best advice is to take a relaxed, but attentive posture. You can lean against a desk, or rest your forearms against a table and face your interviewer. Leaning forward makes you appear more eager and interested. Depending on the interviewing environment, you need to strike a balance between appearing relaxed and attentive while not seeming too rigid.

The same rules apply for your facial expressions. If an interviewer provides you with a situation or tough question and you look distressed or look down, your negative response reflects poorly on you. It’s never wise to look down or away from an interviewer because eye contact is so important. Even if you don’t know how to answer right away, it’s important to appear confident, and maintaining eye contact is an easy way to do that.

Beyond facial expressions, it’s also good to note how expressive you are with hands. Many people ‘talk with their hands’ and there’s nothing wrong with that so long as it’s not over-the-top. While over-exaggerated or flailing motions are unlikely to help in an interview, mild or subtle hand motions won’t hurt. Just make sure to research who you’re interviewing with and where you’re interviewing, especially for international jobs, since different cultures have different standards on hand gestures.

Besides non-verbal cues, it is equally important how you interact with others during the interview process. Whether it is the receptionist or the CEO, basic manners will go a long way. Sometimes these small interactions in the waiting room can be used as mini tests by employers to see how you treat others as well as interact with them. No one likes a rude person and employers are less likely to hire someone others view as being rude or abrasive.

“Any new hire has to come into our team and be able to communicate with the rest of our engineers as well as our non-technical people, so I pay attention to the person’s ability to look me in the eye, be honest when they don’t know the answer to a question, and seem like they’re listening,” Hughes says. These small interactions may seem insignificant in whether or not you will be hired, but it’s important to remember that everything you do is always being judged by others, especially when applying for a job.

The Value of Nonprofit Internships

23 06 2015

By Rebekah Ehlert

RebekahEhlert-150Finding an internship, easy. Just click a button to submit your resume onto Titan Jobs. In a week you get called by a nonprofit organization that wants you to intern. You’re so excited to have a real internship that you immediately accept their offer. And then later you realize you just accepted an unpaid internship. How are you going to pay your bills?

While money is great, unpaid internships can offer great experiences. Nonprofit organizations are less structured, simply because they can’t afford lots of employees. This could look scary for someone without innovation, but this is what separates “the men from the boys.”

To the successful intern, this means you can leave your own mark on the nonprofit group. You have the freedom to create a new program, do work the way you want to do it and stand out from the crowd compared to previous interns. The other employees basically treat you as an equal, which gives you full-time career freedoms.

The second best thing about nonprofit internships is the networking opportunities. You are constantly raising support and meeting with sponsors and volunteers to make your event happen. This is where you can make your impression. Who knows what connections can land you a full-time career?

And finally, the best thing about nonprofits is that many are known internationally. Special Olympics and World Relief are just a couple of the major nonprofits with internships in the Oshkosh area. Because you have experience with an international organization, you can easily share and form connections with employers. International companies carry a well-known name and common ground.

So rock that freedom, embrace the connections and showcase your experience with an internationally trusted nonprofit organization.

Internship Coordinator Barb Benish Helps Oshkosh Girl Scout Troop Achieve Gold Award

18 06 2015
From left: Cera Cadena, Destiny Stoeckert, Theresa Richard, Benish, Laura Benish, Delaney Diamond and Kendall Prehn

From left: Cera Cadena, Destiny Stoeckert, Theresa Richard, Barb Benish, Laura Benish, Delaney Diamond and Kendall Prehn

Receiving the Gold Award in Girl Scouts is a rare achievement that few Girl Scouts reach. Not only did one girl in an Oshkosh troop receive the Gold Award, but all six achieved the massive accomplishment. This is a big deal, especially when considering the fact that less than 5 percent of Girl Scouts earn the award nationally.

Journalism Internship Coordinator Barb Benish is the leader of Ambassador Girl Scout Troop 2092. Since the start of the troop when the girls were only in elementary school, Benish has helped the girls achieve their goals every step of the way. She also received the Girl Scout Volunteer Excellence Award for her dedication and service to Girl Scouts at their May 9 ceremony.

In order for scouts to receive the Gold Award, they must complete a seven-step project that makes a difference in the community. After choosing and researching an issue, Benish helped the girls create a plan.

The various projects took months and sometimes more than a year to complete. The girls chose projects that interested them, such as creating a prom dress closet that offers free dresses to Oshkosh and area teens for homecoming and prom, to encouraging children to exercise through a 6-week summer dance program, to creating 500 toys for cats at the Oshkosh Area Humane Society so they are happy and occupied until they are adopted. The three other projects focused on revitalizing sites at Terrell’s Island, the Wild Ones WILD Center and the Waukau Creek Nature Preserve.

The six girls worked a total of 523 hours finishing their projects, but family and friends put in an additional 570 hours to see those projects to fruition, for a total of 1,094 hours.

Along the way, Benish helped them find projects and provided encouragement and general support. The girls said that she is like a second mother to them. She did all this while teaching at UW Oshkosh and organizing the yearly NEWSPA event held on campus.

Even though the troop will disband next year, they will always carry the experiences they shared and the friendships they created. It just goes to show all the amazing things our professors do in and out of the classroom. Congratulations to Barb Benish and the girls of Troop 2092!

5 Ways to Embrace An Internship With Little Guidance

9 06 2015

By Scott Belille


*Sniff* Do you smell that? Why, that’s the smell of freedom! Yes, at many mass communications internships, your employers expect you to work independently. They’re busy and may only have enough time to tell you what the main message is that you must deliver. Therefore how to represent that message becomes your decision.

A communications internship where the employer tells you to make the calls can be rewarding if you embrace it. Here are five ways to make the most out of an internship with little guidance.

1. Follow the competitors. Watch or read content that similar organizations are pumping out. Just because a subject already received media attention doesn’t mean it is exhausted. Your competitor’s piece may have missed an alternative viewpoint or posed more questions than answers. That’s your chance to outperform them.

2. Ask your sources for story ideas. If you’re clicking with your source during an interview there is nothing wrong with asking for future story ideas at the end. You could receive tips you may otherwise never come across, and the individual could be a source for that next story or direct you to the right person.

3. Don’t skip the topics that scare you.When you’re in control, it’s tempting to discover a big idea only to tell yourself, “That topic is too hard for an intern” or, “I don’t have the time to interview that many sources.” Remember, it’s not about if you will benefit from the story, it’s about if your audience will. A good way to handle this is to mention the story idea to your supervisor. If they see no value in it, you’re off the hook. But if he or she loves the idea and assigns it to you, then you’re ready to learn something new and maybe break a big story to your audience.

4. Set your own deadlines. Some organizations are so deadline-driven that you can feel the stress radiating from the cubicles, while others are so relaxed that it is hard to keep writing at a steady pace. If your deadline is flexible or nonexistent, then establish one so your project doesn’t overstay its welcome. Whether the reward for finishing is going home early or a breathing a healthy sigh of relief that that story is finally put to rest, you will feel better if you give yourself a cut-off date for typing and tinkering.

5. Warn your supervisor if you anticipate having many questions. When the office geology enthusiast assigns you to write a riveting piece about dolomite rocks, deep down he or she expects you to have questions aplenty. Don’t fret. Say: “This topic is unfamiliar to me. Would you have time available today when I could ask you questions that pop up as I research this topic?” He or she should be happier to help you if one-on-one time is set aside to discuss it, and you won’t be returning every three minutes saying, “Sorry, one more question…”

Keep these five tips in mind and you will get the most out of the freedom this sort of internship provides.

How a Class Project Taught Me the Ease and Necessity of Networking

3 06 2015

By: Brenna McDermot (@letterstowomen)

IMG_1498 - Version 2

While Realtors live by location, location, location, it seems like journalists live by networking, networking, networking. In my journalism classes, professors presented this buzzword as one of the most important aspects of my career. Initially, I was skeptical. Wouldn’t my stellar grade point average, extracurricular experiences, and grammar knowledge get me wherever I wanted to go? Plus, networking just seemed like a lot of work. It wasn’t until I took New and Emerging Media that I realized the power and ease of networking.

One of the projects in New and Emerging Media required me to choose a local, small business, interview the person who runs the business’ social media accounts, and evaluate the business’ social media presence. I chose Salon la Rousse and talked to owner Tamara Adelmeyer. When I asked about the salon’s almost complete lack of social media, Adelmeyer said she knew social media is important, but she didn’t have the time to devote to it.

Before our meeting I had researched how to improve a small business’ social media, and I thought about how social media could exhibit Adelmeyer’s masterful work and hair knowledge. Because Adelmeyer liked my ideas and my understanding of her business, I suggested that I work for her during the summer to accomplish the public relations tactics that I presented to her—she agreed.

Now, I have a job for the summer that I will truly enjoy. After this experience I realized that every job I have ever gotten has been because I talked to someone, not because I applied for it. Actually, 80 percent of jobs are gotten through networking.

Networking is essential and straightforward:

  • Make a genuine connection with people. Find something you have in common and mention something you admire about them.
  • Put in the effort to understand them and their business.
  • Position yourself in a way that will benefit them.
  • Always have your portfolio with you and updated.
  • Just ask if you want to work with someone. The worst someone can say is no, but you still gained a contact.

Andrea Larson Receives Chancellor’s Award for Excellence

1 06 2015

By: Carissa Brzezinski (@CJBrzezinski)

The UW Oshkosh Department of Journalism would like to congratulate Andrea Larson for being awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence. Larson is one of 17 seniors from UW Oshkosh who were recognized with this honor. Recipients exemplify high academic and leadership abilities with an evident commitment to serving their school and community.

These qualities are apparent in Larson, who was both a member and leader in multiple groups on campus including the Advertising Club, Julie K. Henderson Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), University Speakers Series, the Athletic Department and the University Studies Program. In addition to her multiple commitments at school, Larson was an intern locally at the Littlest Tumor Foundation, and GenArt in Los Angeles.

Besides an active presence on campus, students were required to submit letters of recommendation as part of the award application process. Two letters were required from faculty members and one from a person of the applicant’s choosing. Larson received letters from Dr. Sara Hansen and Dr. Julie Henderson and additional letters from Mike Lueder and Kati Hinds.

“Each person made a large impact on my academic career and college experience,” Larson said.

“Dr. Henderson and Dr. Hansen taught me so much about my chosen career path—advertising and public relations,” Larson said. “They both gave me the opportunity to transfer knowledge taught in class into real-world experience. Both are extremely knowledgeable and willing to guide their students in the right direction.”

She had kind words about Lueder and Hinds as well.

“Both inspired me to get involved and gain leadership experience,” Larson said. “They helped me see what I was capable of accomplishing and encouraged me to challenge myself.”

Larson graduated in May. When asked what she would miss most about the journalism department, she said: “I have not seen a department more friendly, funny, helpful and inspiring than the journalism department. All the professors and faculty are so caring; every student means a lot to them, and the support they provide is incredible.”

Larson added: “Get involved and take the opportunities that are offered to you. Employers are looking for versatility in their job candidates. The more you are involved and try to gain experience, the more you will stand out. Network and establish relationships with your professors and alumni. They want to see you succeed, and others are more willing to help you than you may think.”

Congratulations, Andrea. We wish you the best in your future.


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