Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Company Culture is Something Not to Overlook During your Interview Process

By Edward Cruz, Director, Career Education

Earlier this month, my colleague discussed the ACC’s of interviewing (Adaptability, Communication and Critical Thinking Skills). I believe the points made are valuable, and you should read his blog to get more information. However, I wanted to take a moment to provide some additional thoughts to consider as you begin your search and go through the interview process.

In addition to the ACCs of interviewing, when searching for your position you also need to strongly consider company culture. At times, determining an organization’s culture can be difficult until you are further along in the search process. Let’s say you applied for a position that seems like a good fit and you went through the first round screening interview. A week or two passes and you receive the call you have been waiting for. You were moved onto round two! Congratulations! You made it! They STILL like you. That means the ACCs worked!

Now that you are preparing yourself for the office interview, you can expect to meet with one to two people or an entire department; it just depends on the organization’s interviewing method (tip: it could also reflect their culture so pay attention). Before you arrive for your interview you should take some time out to prepare your questions and do your homework on the organization. At the end of your interview, you will have an opportunity to ask questions of the interviewer. This is your chance, go for it! Learn about their culture by asking specific questions similar to these:

1.    Can you define your culture in 3 - 5 words?
2.    Can you explain how conflicts are handled within the team/office?
3.    How are accomplishments recognized by the department/organization?
4.    What is the leadership style of supervisors/managers at the organization?

Another thing you would what to key in on during your time at the organization is its values, both spoken and unspoken. Meaning, is what they are saying matching with what they are doing? Are these spoken values being reflected in your interactions with all levels of staff? Questions to consider when evaluating the organization’s values are:

1.    Are the values clearly stated or visible? Do not be afraid to ask them what their values are.
2.    How are staff interacting with each other?
3.    Are there undertones to the questions being asked by the interviewers or in the way they are responding to your questions?
4.    At the conclusion of the process, think about what the experience was like and how were you treated and made to feel.

In many instances, culture is often times overlooked. With this misstep you can find yourself in an environment that does not gel with your values and causes a great deal of dissonance. Do your homework ahead of time, be observant, and do not discredit your gut feelings during the entire interview process. In many cases, culture is not considered until well after the candidate accepted the position and has spent some time in the new role/organization. With this blog entry, you now you have some food for thought and can prepare yourself to make a well informed decision not only by the offered salary or job title, but something that may mean more to you in the long run and that’s the CULTURE. Good luck on finding your fit!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Upcoming Interview? Think ACC

By Richard Combs, Assistant Director, Business Consultant

“Knowledge is a commodity and is free. The world and employers do not care about what you know.  They care about what you can do with what you know. ”
- Tony Wagner
In a typical interview process, it is common for an organization to receive hundreds of applicants, phone screen 10-20 individuals, and hold face-to-face interviews with upwards of 5 candidates.  On-campus interviewing can provide even greater numbers as companies will often interview 10+ candidates per interviewer.  With these numbers, how does one stand out from the crowd?  Be memorable.

So what can you do to distinguish yourself in an interview?

Here are 3 key skills (ACC) that you should demonstrate in your story to help you be memorable:

1. ADAPTABILITY – ability to “roll with the punches” and adapt to change

The world of work is changing.  Many of the jobs most desired now did not even exist 5 years ago.  The ability to adapt is critical for all employees as it demonstrates flexibility and brings added value to the employer.

2. COMMUNICATION SKILLS – ability to organize and articulate thoughts effectively, good listening skills

Despite all the changes in technology, communication skills are still highly valued.  In addition to written and verbal communication skills, the ability to listen is important.  

3. CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS – ability to use logic and reasoning to identify strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems

Your story during the interview must demonstrate your critical thinking skills.  How do you accomplish this?  Reflect on your experiences and demonstrate how you improved a situation.  People are hired to solve problems.  Your job is to make your boss’s job easier.  In order to do this, you fix problems.  

Remember that an interview is a two way street.  The employer is interviewing you, but you are also interviewing the employer.  Also to become more skillful at interviewing it takes practice, practice, and more practice.  Take advantage of the opportunity to participate in mock interviews at the Toppel Career Center and sign up for the EPIC program once you return to campus in the fall.