November 13, 2012

Preparation for job interviews – a year-long process with Gateway

“Describe myself? umm…I really like volleyball… um … I … I … I enjoy … solving problems (?)… um … oh … and I am also an civil engineering major.”

I remember stuttering over the easiest question with great difficulty; spewing random, useless facts that weren’t even related to the position. WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Eventually, it was over. It was my first interview, and I did not get the job.

Now that I think about it, there are over a hundred things that I would have done differently. I would have asked questions. I would have smiled. I would have been prepared for expected questions, like “What are your strengths?” or “Describe a time when you resolved conflict.” But what did I know? I was an inexperienced interviewee.

That was my wake up call. After that interview, I realized that I was not prepared. Nowhere close. So I decided to give Career Services a call.

Larry, my Gateway counselor, is someone I have known since freshman year, but have never really met. I watched as he laid out the interview process in sequence.

“First,” he said, “you will need to contact alumni and make the initial connection. From there, work on cover letters, revise your resume, write thank you notes, and most important of all, do mock interviews.”

I didn’t even know that Career Services provided mock interviews.

So I did.

That following Monday, I requested a mock interview and it turned out to be extremely helpful. Career Services even recorded the entire interview, which showed me how nervous I looked. I did better, but there was still a long way to go.

One year later, after numerous meetings with Larry, I finally feel comfortable with where I am and where I need to be. Luckily enough, one of my applications in the Career Vault, a job vault only for Lafayette students, was accepted. I finally have my first interview in my major, Civil Engineering, with Turner Construction.

I pulled out all the notes that I have from the mock interviews, from Larry, and from Career Services. I knew the process. I knew how to behave, what to do, and how to prepare for it. I walked in with confidence. My first question was: Describe yourself. And I knew exactly what to say.

posted in Binh Pham

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