Interviews in a nutshell



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Redefining Ability in the Workplace

Job

Interview

Skills

Suite 650; 839—5 Ave. SW Calgary, AB T2P 3C8

Phone (403) 265-5374 / FAX 403-265-5675 / TTY 403-265-5309
E-mail: info@championscareercentre.org Website: www.championscareercentre.org
INTERVIEWS IN A NUTSHELL

In order to have a great interview with a prospective employer, it is vitally important that you focus your time and attention to the entire interview process rather than the interview itself. The “time investment” you make now will pay big dividends later!


Interview Process



Assessment

When was the last time you took a long and hard look at yourself? If you are like most people, then it probably has been a while. Since you are searching for the “right fit” in your next employment position, NOW is the perfect time to assess your skills and abilities. Use the list below to begin thinking about the skills that could benefit an employer.




  • Identify your distinctive skills

  • Focus attention on skills you love to use

  • Identify transferable, personal and work skills

  • Create skill benefit statements






Transferable skills

Interpersonal, communication, computer literacy, leadership, thinking, teamwork



  • adaptability and flexibility

  • analysis and problem solving

  • computer literacy / specific software

  • instruction, teaching and supervising

  • knowledge transfer

  • languages

  • oral communication, presentation

  • people skills

  • research (technical, literature/internet searches)

  • self-promotion - marketing yourself

  • writing - technical, report


Personal management skills

Organizational, money management, time management


Work specific skills

Specialized training, on the job training


SKILLS BENEFITS STATEMENTS

Please list FOUR skills in each area: Transferable Skills – Personal Skills – Work Skills

Transferable Skills Personal Skills Work Skills

1. 5. 9.
2. 6. 10.
3. 7. 11.
4. 8. 12.

Take each specific skill and create a Skill Benefit statement similar to the following examples:

  • I can adapt to situations so that I will be able to learn a new task and/or work in a different area with different co- workers.

  • I can manage my time well so that I will be able to plan and prioritize and give myself enough time to do the things that I need to do.

  • I can trouble-shoot so that I will be able to figure out what the problem is, why there is a problem, or prevent a problem before it happens.

Skill Benefit Statements

Skill #1/ I can____________________________________________________________


So that I will be able to_____________________________________________________

Skill #2/ I can____________________________________________________________


So that I will be able to_____________________________________________________

Skill #3/ I can____________________________________________________________

So that I will be able to_____________________________________________________

Skill #4/ I can____________________________________________________________


So that I will be able to_____________________________________________________
Skill #5/ I can____________________________________________________________
So that I will be able to_____________________________________________________

Skill #6/ I can____________________________________________________________


So that I will be able to_____________________________________________________

Skill #7/ I can____________________________________________________________

So that I will be able to_____________________________________________________

Skill #8/ I can____________________________________________________________

So that I will be able to_____________________________________________________

Skill #9/ I can____________________________________________________________


So that I will be able to_____________________________________________________

Skill #10/ I can___________________________________________________________


So that I will be able to_____________________________________________________

Skill #11/ I can___________________________________________________________


So that I will be able to_____________________________________________________

Skill #12/ I can___________________________________________________________


So that I will be able to_____________________________________________________

Research

Researching potential employers before interviewing with them has always been an important, if difficult, part of a successful job search. With the emergence of new technology and all types of search mechanisms, a job candidate doesn’t even have to leave home to conduct thorough research on a company.






  • Know the business products and services

  • Know the job description

  • Understand why you are interested in the company

  • Know the names and positions of the interviewers



Research –WHY?

You will be able to ask questions about the organization in an informed way, which allows for a more relaxed, conversational type of interview rather than simply a question and answer type that doesn’t set you apart from any other quality candidates. Here’s where conducting company research before your interview pays off the most: You can step up to the challenge and answer questions about the company confidently and intelligently. At minimum, know what a company’s products and services are, why they interest you, and how you can help support them.



Research – WHAT?

Find out everything you can about the company, including the following:



  • Benefits

  • History

  • Culture

  • Advancement opportunities

  • Financial status

  • Strategic plans/goals

  • Leadership

  • Diversity

  • Community involvement

  • Industry knowledge

  • Pay close attention to areas of the site labelled “Investor Relations”, “Careers”, “Diversity” and “Community Outreach”. These areas tend to give you the best information on the company and what it’s like to work there. Study this information and any description of the job for which you are applying.



  • Research – WHERE?



  • Web pages

  • Annual Reports

  • Career Fairs

  • Associations



  • Information interviews

  • Advertisements

  • Chamber of Commerce

  • Consumer Reports

  • People who work there





  • Research – ORGANIZING THE INFORMATION?



  • You now know WHAT to research and WHERE to research, so how do you plan to organize the information that you have gathered? It would be a shame to do so much work only to find that when you need the information it has vanished into thin air – all due to lack of organization. The following example is a way to organize your research in order to have the information at your fingertips. On the following pages are two blank interview planning forms that you can tear out and make numerous copies. When you complete the research just attach the completed form to a copy of the resume and cover letter that “got” you that interview.





  • INTERVIEW PLANNING FORM (Example)



  • Job Title: Drop-in centre worker (Adult Care Worker)



  • Describe the position: Appraise clients' needs or eligibility for specific services, Develop, coordinate and implement the delivery of specific services within the community, Resolve conflict situation. Target groups are: Male, Female, Seniors, Aboriginal groups, Culturally diverse groups, Street population, Persons who are deaf/hard of hearing, Persons who are blind/visually impaired, Persons with intellectual disabilities, Persons with physical disabilities, Persons with mental health disabilities, Persons with learning disabilities.



  • Describe the products and services: The needs of people who are homeless or at risk are met in a respectful, comprehensive and safe way. Services are three pronged: Live – food, clothing, shelter, storage. Learn – counseling, technology, employment, personal development. Thrive – Artworks, Furniture construction, music, affordable housing.



  • Industry knowledge: Shelters: Avenue 15 - Boys & Girls Club provides a short-term alternative to life on the streets with counseling services available. Mustard SEED Street Ministry offers shelter, food, educational health and religious services. Inn from the Cold Society provides families and others with shelter and education. Awo Taan Native Women's Shelter provides shelter for women and their children who have experienced domestic violence. The shelter also provides advocacy, counseling, outreach, information, and support services.



  • Company history: 48 years of excellence in serving Calgary Area. The DI has been a familiar face in the homeless sector since 1961. The DI was originally operated through a joint initiative of the Roman Catholic Diocese and the Calgary Interfaith Community Action Committee in 1961. Today, the DI has the capacity to shelter 1,250 individuals a night. Due to the diverse needs of our population, they offer four levels of accommodation. In the fall of 2008 C110 was sold to the “Inn from the Cold” Society.



  • Miscellaneous information: Fast-paced environment, Work under pressure, Physically demanding position. 24 hour operation with Morning, Evening and Night shifts. Preference will be given to people who are willing to work overnights.



  • Sources of information: DI website, Alberta Resources website













  • INTERVIEW PLANNING FORM



  • Job Title:





  • Describe the position:









  • Describe the products and services:











  • Industry knowledge:











  • Company history:











  • Miscellaneous information:











  • Sources of information:













  • INTERVIEW PLANNING FORM



  • Job Title:





  • Describe the position:









  • Describe the products and services:











  • Industry knowledge:











  • Company history:











  • Miscellaneous information:











  • Sources of information:

















  • Research – HOW DO I USE IT?

  • In the interview, if you want to point to research you’ve done, say something like “I saw XXX and I love it”. You don’t ever want to say, “I would do this differently”. Learning about the company is great for tailoring your interview examples and highlighting things that you see in the company that are commonalities with you and areas where your expertise could be useful. It is also a wonderful way to help you develop company-specific questions to ask the interviewer, in addition to the standard questions below:

  • What are the main responsibilities of the position?

  • How will my performance be evaluated?

  • Who would I be reporting to?

  • What direction is the organization taking?

  • What is the organization’s approach to training?

  • What are the expectations for the position and the person in it?

  • What are the main responsibilities of the position?

  • How will my performance be evaluated?

  • Who would I be reporting to?

  • What direction is the organization taking?

  • What is the organization’s approach to training?

  • What are the expectations for the position and the person in it?



  • Remember, an interview is a DIALOGUE so it is of the utmost of importance that you have questions for the interviewer.



  • WHAT NOT TO ASK

  • Do not ask about:

  • Pay

  • Benefits

  • Social club events



  • The interview is the time to show how your skills and abilities will benefit the company; it is not the time to be asking how the company will benefit you!



  • Keep in mind President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech where he so eloquently stated, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

















  • List your potential questions for the interview.



  • 1.__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



  • 2.__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



  • 3.__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



  • 4.__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



  • 5.__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________





  • 6.__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



  • 7.__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________









  • Plan





    • Know what you want to say

    • Understand the needs of the company

    • Know your STAR stories!

    • Know what to bring

    • References, resumes, note pad and pen

    • Know what you want to wear

    • Conform to the norm of the company’s image





  • In the competitive business world, there are sure to be dozens of other highly qualified candidates going after your job. It’s important to make yourself stand out as someone special. Now is the time to practice exactly how you will sell yourself to a prospective employer during that crucial first meeting.





  • SAY – WHAT?

  • What format are you going to use to talk about all your great achievements in your employment history at an interview? What will you say, when will you say it? Which brings us to...?





  • SAY – HOW?

  • It can be easy to talk about your past achievements when you have a formula to

  • follow and MAKE time to develop your stories. By using STAR stories, you will present yourself to an interviewer as a candidate who is prepared, organized and communicates well.


















  • Situation

    Task

    Action

    Result




















  • The STAR method is:

  • S – Situation, background, set the scene

  • T – Task or Target, specifics of what's required, when, where, who

  • A – Action, what you did, skills used, behaviours, characteristics

  • R – Result – Outcome, what happened stated in the positive



  • EXAMPLE

    • S

    • Situation:

    • Describe the situation!

    • What was going on that created a need for action?









    • Advertising revenue was falling off for my college newspaper and large numbers of long-term advertisers were not renewing contracts.



    • T

    • Task:

    • Identify the key objective/task to be performed.











    • I needed to increase advertising revenue.

    • A

    • Action:

    • What specific action steps did you take?











    • I designed a new promotional packet to go with the rate sheet and compared the benefits of our newspaper circulation with other ad media in the area.



    • I also set-up a special training session for the account executives with a School of Business Administration professor who discussed competitive selling strategies.



    • R

    • Result:

    • What was the impact of your actions?

    • What were the benefits?

    • What did you learn through the process?



    • The result must be a positive one, if not, talk about what you have learned!



    • We signed contracts with 15 former advertisers for daily ads and five for special supplements, as well as, increased our new advertisers by 20 percent over the same period last year.





  • Now try one yourself

  • S

  • Situation:

  • Describe the situation!

  • What was going on that created a need for action?





















  • T

  • Task:

  • Identify the key objective/task to be performed.









  • A

  • Action:

  • What specific action steps did you take?





























  • R

  • Result:

  • What was the impact of your actions?

  • What were the benefits?

  • What did you learn through the process?



  • The result must be a positive one, if not, talk about what you have learned!





  • SAY – WHY?



  • The STAR method will enable you to answer tough work related questions (not limited to job interviews) in a subtly, compelling and powerful manner.



  • People like hearing stories, facts are easier to remember if wrapped in a story, stories tend not to get interrupted; basically stories are an ancient proven method of getting a message across!



  • Listeners will remember more of your answers, and the messages within them, yet your message will be delivered in a friendly likable style.



  • As far as job interviewing is concerned, your success ratio will go off the scale.



  • Practice



  • A man, lost on the streets of New York City, sees a man carrying a cello. He asks the finely dressed gentleman, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” and the gentleman answered, “Practice, practice, practice!”



    • Rehearse your STAR stories aloud

    • Evaluate your answers to interview questions

    • Develop alternative answers to difficult questions

    • Develop confidence in your answers




  • I know it’s an old joke, and it is perfectly fitting for this portion of preparing for your interview. All the work you have done thus far will be of little use if you skip this step.







  • Practice – How?



  • Practicing for an interview and being ready for an interview are very different. Knowing how to practice is the important part.

  • Get a friend to help who will be as unbiased as possible with your responses

  • Practice every question possible about your background and work history

  • Do as many practice sessions as you need to feel completely comfortable with your answers

  • When practicing, do a 'dress rehearsal' (practice like it is the real interview)

  • Write down every possible question and five possible answers

  • If you can, record the practice sessions and review the tape to check for possible nervousness or other correctable issues



  • Being ready for the interview requires awareness and foresight of potential issues, and questions about those issues during the interview. Know the job description and link your skills and experience to the description’s points. The employer will be preparing for the interview by listing the questions he wants answered. Your job as the applicant is to prepare for the interview by practicing the answers for those questions.











  • Final preparations:

  • Select appropriate attire long before the interview day.

  • Know the culture of the organization for which you are interviewing and dress accordingly -- perhaps a notch above that -- especially if the company has espoused corporate casual. A business suit is always acceptable.

  • Be certain that your clothing is clean and well pressed. Do a test run to determine comfort level. Too short or too tight may cause you -- or others -- to be distracted or uncomfortable. Minimize accessories. Remember: less is more. You want to be memorable for the right reasons.

  • Know the location of your interview. Do a drive-by if possible. Plan to arrive at the designated office 15 minutes in advance. Allow ample time for traffic, the possibility of getting lost, and parking difficulties. If you arrive more than 15 minutes early, don’t go in just yet. Find a washroom and take the time to check your appearance in a mirror.



  • Bring extra copies of your resume in a folder or portfolio.



  • Bring a small notebook with a list of questions that you have prepared for the interview, but keep note taking to a minimum to maximize your eye contact.









  • Interview

  • One thing that can help you make sure all goes well is to recognize that the interview process will naturally break down into three stages. Knowing what stage of the interview you are in will help you respond to the interviewer in the proper manner.



  • Interview Format

  • Opening

  • Introductions, small talk



  • Information exchange

  • Verifying/validating your experience

  • Emphasize your skill benefit statements

  • Truthfully discuss your skills, accomplishments

  • Use your STAR stories to answer interview questions



  • Closing

  • They may ask for your questions

  • Have 4-5 questions prepared to ask interviewer

  • Ask when the selection will be made

  • Ask for a business card from each person that interviewed you

  • THANK the interviewer










    • Arrive 15 minutes early

    • Feel and look confident and relaxed

    • Greet the receptionist with self-assurance

    • Treat everyone with respect
















  • Follow-up

  • Remember that your work is not done once you finish the interview. You can't sit back and wait for the job offer, so consider these key rules and strategies for following-up your job interviews.



  • Record what you did well (and not so well) immediately following the interview

  • Identify what you learned about the organization and the job

  • Send a thank you email immediately after the interview

  • Send a handwritten thank you note to everyone at the interview

  • If you do NOT get the job, call the interviewer and ask for any constructive feedback

    • Some interviewers prefer NOT to give real feedback for fear of lawsuits

    • Interviewer may just say something like, “ …not the ‘right fit’

      • Politely inquire what “not the right fit” means

      • Don’t push for more information.













  • THANK YOU NOTE SAMPLES



  • Thank you for meeting with me today. In learning more about your organization and the position has confirmed for me that I would be the right fit with your culture. I look forward to hearing from you and if you have any questions, please contact me at any time.







  • I appreciate the time you took to meet with me today to discuss the position of ______________. I was particularly interested to learn __________ about your organization and I believe that we are the right fit. I look forward to hearing from you for the next steps in the hiring process.













  • Types of Interviews

  • As a job seeker you can expect to have a number of interviews before getting a job offer. Not all of these interviews will be the traditional kind, where you meet the interviewer one-on-one for a discussion. Regardless the type of interview, your goal is to always come across as the best candidate. Knowing in advance the formats you may be facing can help you prepare effectively.


  • Behavioral Descriptive (BDI)

    • A popular style of interviewing, in which you are asked to relate a specific experience based on the criteria set by the interviewer.

    • They seek to learn about your past behaviour which may indicate what your future behaviour might be. Questions often start with, “Tell me about a time...”

  • Situational

    • The interviewer will give you a hypothetical situation and ask you a question about that situation to see how you respond.

    • They seek to test your thought process and your logical thinking.

    • Questions often start with, “What would you do if….”

  • Screening

    • You might receive an initial phone call from the employer wanting to ask you a series of questions that will help decide if they want to bring you in for a face-to-face discussion.

    • If the phone call catches you off guard, politely state that it’s not the best time to talk and request an agreed upon time to speak with that person.

  • Panel selection

    • Several interviewers at once.

    • It gives the employer multiple opinions about you.

  • One-on-one

    • The traditional face-to-face interview

  • Telephone

    • Used to screen candidates for basic qualifications or when it is not practical to invite an out-of-area candidate to the office

  • Stress

    • Your interviewer suddenly starts asking two or three questions at a time, looking at you when you try to answer, then suddenly gets up and walks out for a few minutes – no explanation supplied.

    • The employer puts you under pressure to see how you react.

    • You show them what you’re made of by keeping your cool.

    • The more they continue to apply the tension, the calmer you become.

  • Second and third

    • This indicates that you are on the short list.















  • Sample of Behavioural Descriptive Interview Questions



  • Develop a STAR story for each question.

  • If you do not have a real life experience for a question, turn it into a situational type question and answer it by starting, “I never had any experience in that, but if it were to happen...”

  • Tell me about a time when you…

  • Worked effectively under pressure.

  • Handled a difficult situation with a co-worker.

  • Were creative in solving a problem.

  • Were unable to complete a project on time.

  • Persuaded team members to do things your way.

  • Anticipated potential problems and developed preventive measures.

  • Had to make an important decision with limited facts.

  • Were forced to make an unpopular decision.

  • Had to adapt to a difficult situation.

  • Were tolerant of an opinion that was different from yours.

  • Were disappointed in your behaviour.

  • Used your political savvy to push a program through that you really believed in.

  • Had to deal with an irate individual.

  • Delegated a project effectively.

  • Surmounted a major obstacle.

  • Set your sights too high (or too low).

  • Got bogged down in the details of a project.

  • Made a bad decision.

  • Had to provide constructive criticism to a friend.



  • As well as:



  • Tell me about yourself.



  • What kinds of work do you find difficult?



  • What is your greatest strength?



  • What is your greatest weakness?



  • Why would you be the best person for this job?



  • Tips

    • Focus on positive experiences you and others have had finding work

    • Focus on your abilities and successes in ALL areas of your life

    • Refer to your references and mention the positive comments from others

    • Prepare and practice, practice, practice

    • SMILE!

    • Be yourself!












    • Focus on the bottom line and stress the results you will get for them.

    • Be “up”!; Low energy and monotony will kill any presentation

    • Be visual. Paint a vivid picture in story form of how things will be when you have the job.

    • Have a strong closing

    Stay Confident

    Sell Yourself





  • You

    Can

    Do

    It!


































  • INTERVIEW PREPARATION INVENTORY

  • Have I reviewed:

  • My resume and memorized my personal history?

  • The job requirements?

  • Facts about the organization?

  • My STAR stories?

  • My questions for the interviewer?

  • My salary expectations for this position?



  • Are my interview strategies clear?

  • Do I know how to answer specific questions?

  • Do I know enough about the company and its history to talk about it?

  • What will I ask about the job and the company?

  • How will I make a good impression?

  • Do I know how I will handle any questions I do not know how to answer?

  • Do I have strategies to help me cope with the stress of the Interview?

  • If I choose to disclose my disability, do I know what specifically I will say?



  • Have I reviewed the following information?

  • Do I have the correct time and date for the interview?

  • Do I have the address, department, etc. where the interview is scheduled?

  • Do I have the name of the person I am to report to for the interview?



  • Do I have with me:

  • At least two copies of my resume?

  • A copy of my cover letter?

  • A copy of my reference sheet?

  • A copy of any correspondence I sent the employer?

  • Any information needed to complete an application form?

  • A portfolio with any certificates, awards and letters of reference?

  • Pen and paper?



  • Am I physically ready for the interview?

  • Freshly showered?

  • No overpowering perfume/cologne?

  • Appropriate hair style/cut?

  • Dressed appropriately?

  • Polished shoes?

  • Appendix 1

  • Questions for the Interviewer

  • Samples:

  • If you are having trouble developing questions, consider the following samples as food for thought to help you consider your own questions. However, don't ask a question if you are not truly interested in the answer; it will be obvious to the employer.

  • Your questions must show your own thought process.

  • What are the organization's/company's strengths and weaknesses compared to its competition?

  • How does upper management view the role and importance of this department and this position?

  • What is the organization's plan for the next five years, and how does this department fit in?

  • Could you explain your organizational structure?

  • What do you most enjoy about your work with this organization / company / agency?

  • How have various types of decisions been made?

  • What are the various ways employees communicate with one another to carry out their work?

  • How will my leadership responsibilities and performance be measured? By whom?

  • What are the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?

  • Could you describe your company's management style and the type of employee who fits well with it?

  • What are some of the skills and abilities necessary for someone to succeed in this job?

  • What is the company's policy on providing seminars, workshops, and training so employees can keep up their skills or acquire new ones?

  • What particular computer equipment and software do you use?

  • What kind of work can I expect to be doing the first year?

  • What percentage of routine, detailed work will I encounter?

  • How much opportunity is there to see the end result of my efforts?

  • How and by whom will my performance be reviewed? Are there specific criteria upon which I would be evaluated? In addition, how frequently is formal and informal review given to new employees?

  • How much guidance or assistance is made available to individuals in developing career goals?

  • I read on the company / organization / agency website that employees have recently done presentations at XX conference. Is that a typical opportunity in the job for which I am interviewing? Are there specific professional organizations employees have been encouraged to join?

  • How much opportunity will I have for decision-making in my first assignment?

  • Can you describe an ideal employee?

  • What is your organization's policy on transfers to other cities?

  • Could you describe to me your typical management style and the type of employee that works well with you?


  • Appendix 2

  • Tell me about yourself.......... This is usually the opening question in an interview and it's the perfect moment for you to toot your own horn -- not to tell your life history. Your answers should be a quick rundown of your qualifications and experience. Talk about your education, work history, recent career experience and future goals. It’s your opportunity to establish your credibility and stimulate the interviewer’s curiosity. If you do well, the interviewer will be engaged and follow-up questions will flow easily.



  • Part one



  • Normally, Part one will consist of a one-sentence statement of your career history, i.e., essentially the condensed version of your entire career history. However, that’s not as challenging as perhaps it might first appear. Here is an example of how Part One can easily be constructed:



  • I am a five-year veteran of LAN/WAN administration and systems engineering, with substantial experience using Novell, NT, Cisco and Lotus Notes/Domino.”



  • Part two



  • Part two consists of a one- OR two-sentence summary of a single career accomplishment that you are especially proud of and one that can reasonably be expected to capture the potential employer’s attention. It must also be an accomplishment that can be easily explained and/or illustrated and it absolutely MUST highlight a “bottom-line” impact for the potential employer. Here is an example:



  • Recently, as a long-term contract employee at a local regional bank, I learned that the bank was about to install Lotus Notes/Domino and they were planning to use outside consultants for the project. I let them know that I had done a similar installation at my last assignment, outlined how we could get the job done with in-house staff and successfully complete the installation for $55-$65K less than it would have cost with outside consultants.”



  • Part three



  • This final part is the most dynamic, as well as the part that must be customized to fit the particular career opportunity being sought. It needs to be a one- OR two-sentence summary of specifically what you want to do in your next career move AND it must be relevant to the position being sought. Here is an example of how Part Three might be constructed:



  • For the next step in my career, I would like to move away from contract work and find myself as a direct employee of a large firm where I can join a substantial IT team and be involved with a group that focuses on email and network security applications, while having access to the knowledge base that would come with a large, diverse IT group.”



  • OR, here is yet another example of how Part Three might be prepared:



  • For the next step in my career, I would like to find myself as a direct employee of a small- to medium-sized firm that is looking to hire an in-house IT generalist so I can continue growing my career by getting exposure to multiple IT areas, such as networking, help desk, security, and application issues for the users of the organization. As the firm’s IT needs grow, I would love to apply my past team project management skills to managing the members of a small, growing IT team.”



  • Appendix 3

  • Brainstorming for Accomplishments

  • Exercise A (for those with mostly student-type work experiences)

  • There is a wide variety of student experiences that can help you develop the skills needed for the work world. For this exercise, consider internships, summer jobs, campus jobs, temporary, entrepreneurial/self-employed jobs, volunteer work, classroom experiences, and extracurricular activities.

  • Brainstorm responses to the questions below and be sure to explain the context for each accomplishment:

  1. What technical accomplishments have you had? Did you write a software program or design a web page?

  2. What competitions did you excel in? What superlatives can you list, such as the highest grade, the best test score, or strongest essay?

  3. What creative accomplishments have you had? Was any of your poetry, plays, stories, music, and art published, performed, or exhibited?

  4. What leadership positions have you held that demonstrate relevant skills? Were you elected or hand-picked by a supervisor for additional responsibilities? (Also, list situations in which you chose to take on additional responsibilities.)

  5. What community service projects did you undertake and what were the results of your efforts?

  6. What ideas have you come up with to improve the organizations with which you've been involved?

  7. List situations in which you've managed budgets, or raised, collected or managed money.

  8. Give examples of ways you have exhibited interpersonal skills. How have you demonstrated teamwork? List situations in which you were required to deal with the public.

  9. List situations in which you have trained, taught or oriented organization members.

  10. List situations in which you were required to juggle many projects simultaneously under deadline pressure.





  • Exercise B (for those with significant full-time paid work experience)

  • Go through the exercise once for each relevant work experience.

  1. In this job, what special things did you do to set yourself apart? How did you take the initiative? How did you go above and beyond what was asked of you in your job description?

  2. Were you promoted? What special things did you do that impressed your supervisor?

  3. How has the organization benefited from your performance? Did you save money/time, or make work easier? How did/will you leave this employer better off than before you worked there?

  4. Did you receive formal feedback from supervisors or clients on your performance? List any glowing quotes from your reviews to support your accomplishments.

  5. List any awards you won, such as Employee of the Month, President's Club.

  6. What tangible evidence do you have of accomplishments -- publications you've produced, products you've developed, software applications you've written?

  7. Did you build relationships or create a positive image of the organization? How did you attract new customers or retain existing ones? Did you expand the business?

  8. How did you help the organization fulfill its mission statement?

  9. Have you received any complimentary memos or letters from employers or customers? Provide quotes from these letters that support your accomplishments.

  10. What were the problems or challenges that you or the organization faced? What did you do to overcome the problems? What were the results of your efforts?

  11. How did you build relationships or image with internal and/or external constituencies? How did you attract new customers or retain existing ones?

  12. How did you solve one or more specific problems in this job? What were the problems or challenges that you or the organization faced? What did you do to overcome the problems?








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