“Getting a Job: What HR Wants from You”

On Tuesday afternoon, eager undergraduate and graduate students gathered to get some very valuable information and insights from two experienced professionals in the field on how to nail those job interviews. The event was sponsored by Executives on Campus, Job$mart, and provided for some very practical and invaluable information that will not be found in your textbook. Our guest speakers included Nancy Liss, Business Partner of Global Human Resources, and Barbara Walters, President of The HR Advantage. Nancy Liss has over 15 years experience in global human resources and staffing experience in various job industries; Barbara Walters has 20 years experience in corporate human resources assisting companies become more profitable through organizations’ human capital.

So what exactly does HR want from us?

Let’s first start off with what not to do at a job interview before we perfect what we do.

A few top mistakes job seekers make at interviews:

  1. Preparation—this includes not familiarizing yourself with the company or even the position itself, in addition to not knowing enough about the company’s competition. This is crucial in order to establish yourself from your competitors, to set yourself apart, and to differentiate the company from everyone else
  2. Taking a position that just doesn’t suit you—so you say to yourself, “I don’t care what kind of internship or position I get, I’ll take any of them!” WRONG! If it doesn’t fit your personality or your values, it’s just not going to work. It’s like buying a pair of ill-fitting pants—sure, you can wear them once or twice, you can grin and bear it, but in the end you’ll toss them away just like you’ll leave the company or be dissatisfied. It’s just won’t work out.
  3. Salary negotiatingnever show your cards first—it’s like a poker game. First off, if asked, start by telling the truth about your hourly wages/salary at past positions. Don’t lie about this—they will find out! It would be a terrible shame to lose a potential position because you fudged up some numbers about the past thinking they won’t look into it. They do, and it will come back to bite you in the butt if you’re not truthful.

Expectations—treat it like a blind date. “Let’s see if I’m the right person for the job and I’m sure you’ll make me an offer that will work for the both of us.”

On the application, be sure to put either “TBD” or “negotiable” so you don’t low-ball a potentially higher salary, or on the other end of the spectrum, so you don’t put a salary too high and knock yourself out of the final interview solely based on salary expectations.

Some Valuable Key Points:

  • Have at least one résumé tailored specifically for each position and/or company you are applying to. For example, if you are specializing in two areas of study, such as Marketing and International Business, make one résumé for each major and use each one to apply accordingly. In addition, highlight key areas as shown in the job description and make these areas stand out in your résumé as well to show you are the best fit for the position
  • Practice a stress interview (at the GCMC or with a colleague). These types of interviews ask you questions related to “how would you react in x, y, z type of situation?” For example, what would you say about your worst manager or professor? How would you handle a situation in which someone is yelling at you? What aspect of your work receives the most criticism? Hiring managers want to ensure that their potential employees can reason and get through stressful situations while under pressure without overreacting
  • The ever-dreaded “tell me about yourself” question. Be sure to rehearse three key points about yourself that relate to the job description. Remember, this is your time to shine. Make it worth it. Sell yourself. Convince them you are the best fit for the position at that specific company. Prove it to them.
  • Don’t start networking at the point at which you’re looking for a job. Start looking early. You’re already late if you’re just getting started when you need to have a job or internship. The earlier the better. Start building those contacts.
  • You must close the sale.” What does this mean? At the end of an interview, you must conclude with a closing sentence. Something along the lines of, “From everything that I have seen and heard, I would really love this position. What happens next?” Be sure to get follow-up details, such as, after how long will they contact you? Is there a follow-up interview? Will the follow-up interview be in a group? You get the idea. And always send a thank you e-mail after every interview, so be sure to get business cards from those that interview you.


Food for thought: People spend an average of 20 seconds reading a résumé. That’s it!

Check out these links:

                http://www.wordle.net–see your résumé depicted graphically. Wordle.net creates “word clouds” out of the text that you copy and paste into their site, so you can copy the text from your résumé, cover letter, or any other document for that matter. Very interesting actually. You can visually see most frequently used words and phrases in bold and larger letters, and see if these are the terms you want emphasized or not. Wordle.net allows you to rearrange the design, layout and colors, but the first half of it is very useful in designing your résumé and cover letter. Are you getting across what you want potential employers to know about you?

                http://www.vistaprint.com–Free business cards?! Almost—just pay for shipping! Pick from a limited number of designs and only pay for shipping. Just one tiny catch—don’t hold me to this, but apparently to get the shipping only business cards, the vistaprint logo appears on the back of the card. Still a bargain though. They have great designs and layouts. Check it out.

Hope this information helps, and good luck on your networking and job searching.

3 Responses to ““Getting a Job: What HR Wants from You””
  1. Great post. Thanks for sharing the comments from the event.

  2. MBAchic says:

    Great advice! “You must close the sale” – so true.

    Thanks for the Wordle tip! Must check that out..

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