By Angelina Klouthis
If you have ever put time and effort into a job application, résumé, or cover letter, you know that the moment is very exciting when you hear you have been selected for an interview. This is a chance to show why you are a great candidate. We sat down with Andy Osheroff from the University of Southern Maine Career and Employment Hub to learn some top tips to help you prepare for the interview.
1. What should a job seeker do before the interview?
Research before an interview is critical. One helpful way to think about the research is to break it down into three primary areas: the organization, the department, and the role. First, you will want to have a fundamental understanding of what the mission and vision are for the organization you are applying to, as well as some of their important initiatives. Then, you will want to learn more about the department you are applying to – some of the work that they are focusing on, as well as who the employees are in the department. Knowing about your interviewers, for instance, can go a long way toward connecting with them. Finally, you will want to do research into the role you are applying for. Knowing what essential skills the department is looking for in an employee, and being able to brush up on those ahead of time, can help you stand out.
2. What advice would you give someone with a foreign degree or limited experience when job searching in the U.S.?
While degrees from abroad can not easily be accredited in the U.S., the knowledge that you gained and any experience that you have will always be valuable to employers. We often talk to our students and alumni about transferable skills, and this is particularly important for professionals from abroad. For instance, the degree you hold may not be directly transferable here, but your ability to study, retain knowledge, work with others, and think critically is important. When crafting your resumé and cover letter, as well as answering questions in an interview, it is critical to emphasize these transferable skills.
3. When is the right time to ask questions about the salary range or accommodations?
More and more employers are starting to post the salary range and benefits they are offering along with the position, which is great news for job seekers. If that is not the case, we encourage job seekers to do research ahead of time. Often information can be found about the salary range for a type of role in a specific state and region. For actual conversations about salary and negotiating salary, we typically recommend applicants wait until you have been offered the role at the end of the process to ask these questions, as you have much more influence at this point. Asking to be provided with complete information about benefits is appropriate as well. Healthcare, retirement accounts, tuition reimbursement, and other benefits can make a significant difference in overall compensation.
4. How can a job seeker stay connected to opportunities?
After an interview, always follow up with a thank you note. Thank you notes that are personalized go a long way. Examples of how to do this are by referring to specific information you discussed in the interview. In this day and age, sending thank you notes over email is perfectly acceptable, and is often better than handwritten notes which may arrive after a decision has already been made on candidate selection. If you are turned down for an opportunity, and are still interested in the department or the organization, it is absolutely worth sending a note to let them know that they may refer you to another position within the organization.