Vampire Teeth and Other “What Not to Wear” items for OCR Interviews

By Claire Klieger

I guess the Twilight series had a more profound impact on college pop culture than I thought because earlier this week we actually found some fake vampire teeth in our waiting area at Career Services. (Sorry, if they were yours and you were hoping to claim them, I’m afraid they’ve already found their way to the trash). While it should be obvious that fangs are inappropriate interview attire (and I would think inappropriate to bring to Career Services in general—but hey, maybe that’s just me), students do often agonize about what is appropriate to wear to interviews.

Taking the "bite" out of interview attire.

As we enter into the start of OCR interviews this week, here are some tips:

1) Go easy on the “pieces of flair.” I once saw an interviewing guide that encouraged people to wear no more than 13 accessories, but I think even that is too much (frankly, I’m not sure I could even list 13 different types of accessories). Any jewelry you wear should be fairly subtle. Avoid overly large or dangly earrings and especially if you have a facial piercing, you may want to consider removing it for the interview. Essentially, you don’t want to wear anything that will distract from what you are saying.

2) Skin is not in. As popular as they may be at frat parties the world over, short skirts or low cut tops are not a good idea. Trust me ladies, those are not the assets you want to be stressing in your interview. Skirts lengths should be right around your knee and while you certainly don’t have to wear a turtle neck, use good judgment about necklines.

3) Know “the uniform.” What you wear to an interview depends a lot on the culture of the organization in which you’re planning to work. For more conservative industries like finance and consulting, this means wearing a dark suit, and ideally, for women, a skirt suit. However, for interviews with say….Polo Ralph Lauren, what you wear is a chance to highlight your fashion sense, which is much more central to your job. Similarly, for interviews at tech organizations that often have a more business casual working environment, you may look much more like a member of the team if you dress in business casual attire.

What you wear to an interview should be something that makes you feel confident, which, in turn, will help you come across that way to a recruiter. The best attire draws the attention to your face because ultimately, you want to remembered for what you say, not what you wear.

Interviewing Intangibles

By: David Ross

With On-Campus Interviews beginning next week, students are preparing to make sure they are ready. While it’s very common to consider what questions may be asked and the best ways to answer them, one often overlooked area of preparation involves intangibles. The little things…minor details…things we don’t usually pay attention to or realize. While intangibles may seem inherently trivial, pay close attention as recruiters do notice and consider them.

What are intangibles? Let’s consider a scenario. Imagine yourself at the interview site. You’re prepared, confident, and ready to go. You have arrived on site and are waiting to meet your interviewer(s). Almost immediately, your appearance will be noticed. Do you have a professional appearance? Do you appear eager and enthusiastic? Whatever the case may be, your initial appearance will leave an impression.

Upon introduction, it is customary to shake hands. Now while this may seem traditional and straightforward, your handshake may be a reflection of yourself to the recruiter. Weak or flimsy handshakes suggest a lack of confidence, while bone-crushing handshakes are an extreme to be avoided as well. Try to find a balance somewhere in between – a nice, firm handshake is a good sign.

Another intangible is eye contact. Good eye contact indicates level of interest – conversely, poor eye contact implies lack of interest or lack of confidence. Try your best to maintain eye contact throughout the process. Of course, avoid extremes – staring someone down for extended periods of time may make the person uneasy or uncomfortable.

Finally, consider small talk or chit-chat as an opportunity. Before you enter the interview room or before the actual interview starts, you may meet a company representative who speaks with you briefly. Use this time to try to build a rapport or break the ice. You want to set a positive tone and show some indication of your personality if possible. Engaging in a quick conversation before the more traditional part of the interview begins may help showcase your fit with employees at the organization.

While these intangibles should be considered, always be yourself. Be confident in who you are and your abilities – you have much to offer, so take advantage of your interview to tell your story while using intangibles to your advantage.

Make sure Facebook is your Friend, not your Enemy

by Lin Yuan

My name is Lin Yuan and I’m a workstudy for the Career Services office. I do a lot of Facebook and Twitter posts for the office. It’s a pretty sweet job because how many people can say they get paid to be on Facebook and Twitter all day? It’s definitely a fun job, but also pretty informative and I’ve already learned so much from work that I want to share with you all.

I come across a lot of articles at work about social media making or breaking a job offer. Employers these days definitely search  job applicants on Facebook and other sites to see if they can dig up any dirt or just get to know you better. Even if you’re not applying for a job or internship now, make sure your Facebook profile always puts your best face forward:

1)      Untag unattractive or incriminating photos of yourself. Better yet, ask your friends to delete them.

2)      Use Facebook’s friend lists functions.  Friend lists are great to classify your hundreds of friends into manageable groups. I made a friend list for acquaintances and family friends called PG, with limited access to my profile. Closer friends go into a PG-13 list. And remember, if it’s R, it probably shouldn’t be on Facebook!

3)      Put some thought into your About Me section. Employers might have something in common with you that could give you more to talk about in an interview. Use your About Me section to make your profile more personalized and show off what an interesting person you are! (Check out this student branding success story).

4)      Exercise general caution on Facebook. Facebook creates a huge, complicated web of contacts, so even if you do use privacy settings, make sure you don’t put anything on your profile that you wouldn’t want everyone to see. For example, a popular privacy setting is only letting Friends of Friends see your Facebook photos. It sounds pretty reasonable, but when you have 500 friends and each of them have 500 friends, that’s suddenly a lot of people with access to your pictures from last night’s party.

More resources and tips about Facebook can be found on Career Services’ Social Media page.

And if you aren’t already, become a fan of University of Pennsylvania Career Services on Facebook!

We’ll keep you updated on our events & workshops and post information that can help you with your career search. (I promise to keep the corny puns to a minimum!)

The “big and little L” of Leadership

…a leader is not only to be found in the team captain, class president, or valedictorian…Consider ways in which you have led by example; when you have helped or taught others; when you have assumed responsibility to do something well or to see something through, even if you weren’t the one “in charge.”

The ability to lead – and lead well – is a highly coveted skill in the employment market.  Maybe you’ve taken a class with “Leadership” in the title; perhaps you’ve been a captain on an athletic team or the President of a student club.  Intern and entry-level candidates devote entire sections of their resume to the details of their elected or appointed leadership positions held throughout their school years.  Scan just about any job posting and it is easy to see that employers are consistently looking for candidates that have demonstrated this valued attribute.   

 However, a leader is not only to be found in the team captain, class president, or valedictorian.   When speaking with students in career counseling meetings, I often discuss the difference between the “big and little L” of leadership – those times when you may have been appointed or recognized as the leader – the “big L” – and other times, when you weren’t necessarily or formally “in charge,” but demonstrated characteristics and qualities that illustrate your leadership potential and talents, and would be ideal to share with a potential employer. 

John Quincy Adams once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”  I encourage you to think of the ways that Adam’s interpretation of what makes a leader resonates with your own life experiences.  Consider ways in which you have led by example; when you have helped or taught others; when you have assumed responsibility to do something well or to see something through, even if you weren’t the one “in charge.”  Chances are, this has happened often in your life – with classmates, siblings or relatives, co-workers and others.   By detailing those experiences, and the personal and professional development gained, you have the potential to be considered an even stronger candidate for the careers you are considering!

Thank You Notes

by Sue Russoniello

Hard to believe, but January, 2010 is almost past.  The poinsettias are long gone.  You’re back at the gym working off those cookies you couldn’t resist in December.  And your mom is still bugging you to write those pesky holiday thank you notes, right?  Why don’t you put that etiquette training to good use in your job or internship search?  How’s that, you ask?

Well, for instance, a friend and I were chatting recently about our respective holidays.  She was telling me about a connection her daughter made over the break.  “Mary” accompanied a friend to a holiday party where she had the typical conversations — Where is she studying?  What degree is she getting? What are her career goals? Pretty humdrum, right?  Whoa! Wait a minute! What a coincidence!  The host of the party is on the board of directors of an organization in the very field she wants to enter when she graduates in May!  He told her to be sure to get in touch in the spring, and he’d be happy to help her in her job search in whatever way he could.

I urged Mary to write to him NOW.  And I encourage you to follow up on connections you made, as well.  Write that note; thank him for the lovely party; impress him with your good manners while gently jogging his memory about the conversation you had regarding your employment goals.  Be sure to include your contact information so he can reach out to you if he wants.   Let him know you’ll be in touch in the next few weeks to follow-up.  (Then, of course, don’t forget to do that.)

So even though it’s almost February, it’s not too late.  Sit down for a minute before the semester kicks into full gear.  Think about the people you spent time with over the break.  Perhaps you didn’t make as exciting a connection as my friend’s daughter, but maybe you had a nice conversation with your best friend’s parents or your Aunt Sadie who had some good leads for you.  Reach out to them with those thank you notes and let them know how much you appreciate their guidance and friendship.  Use the good manners your mom has taught you and at the same time kick your job search into gear.

While you’re at it, thank Mom for the etiquette lessons!