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All MBAs, Interview, Job Search, LinkedIn

A Recruiter’s Guide to Job Seeking

Ever wanted to get inside a recruiter’s head?  What is he or she thinking when you are relaying past experiences and attempting to answer those behavioral interview questions succinctly with the right amount of detail and passion?  What do recruiters deem the greatest interview mistakes and how are they using social media these days?  These are a few of the questions that were posed to the recruiters from Target, Buffalo Wild Wings, Moneygram, Datacard and CMD Associates at the Recruiter Panel lunch event held by Graduate Business Career Services on March 6th.

 Jennifer Finkelson (Buffalo Wild Wings), Dana Schulz (Target), Stefanie Haglend (Moneygram), Twanda DeBorde (CMD Associates), and Julie Serlin (Datacard Group) spent an hour and half with the full time MBA students providing interview tips and answering  an array of student questions.  Here is a quick summary of the do’s and don’ts when it comes to applying and interviewing at these  top corporations.


 Come Prepared:  Be ready with a list of questions for your interviewer that show an understanding of the company values, recent newsworthy events, and overall culture.  Make sure you have stories (2 minutes max) ready to share when behavioral interview questions are asked. The scenarios you share should include quantifiable results that had a broad impact on your overall job.

Show Passion, Be Energized, Come Curious:  Recruiters want to feel your excitement for the position.   Show them your interest through answering questions passionately with the appropriate level of enthusiasm.   Let your natural curiosity shine through with questions and an attitude that shows you are ready to learn and contribute.

Be Confident:  Confidence is portrayed through good eye contact, a firm (not death grip) handshake, and succinct to the point answers.  Be confident, but be yourself. 

Complete your LinkedIn Profile: Julie Serlin, from Datacard, remarked that she keeps LinkedIn open on her desktop throughout the day.  She refers to it repeatedly to source candidates or to ensure that resumes are consistent with LinkedIn profiles.  An incomplete profile is akin to  an incomplete brand.  Make sure you have a professional looking photo,  a detailed experience section with 2-3 bullets for each position held in  the past 10 years, and a least a few recommendations.


 Ask a Transparent, Inappropriate Question:  “How long until I get promoted” does not show passion or interest in the current position.  It does, however, portray overconfidence and, quite frankly, doesn’t make you overly likable.

 Get Caught without Enough Questions:  This comes with preparation.  There really is no such thing as too much research when it comes to interviewing.  Familiarize yourself with the company website, read articles in Forbes, WSJ, and Inc. to get up-to-date on news worthy events relating to the company or its competitors.  All of this research proves useful when it comes to the point of the interview where the candidate can pose questions.  When you meet with several representatives at a company, it’s crucial to have curious, insightful, unique questions for each interviewer.  The only way to be ready for this is to research.

 As always be true to yourself, be polished, be prepared, and be passionate.  Approach each interview as an opportunity to learn and grow, and always do your best.  Even if you don’t land the position you are applying for, you will have made an impact on the recruiter and hiring committee.  You want to make that impact a positive one.


All MBAs, Career Tools, Interview, Personal Development

Reflections on Interviewing

As I take a look back at the interviews I have had over the past decade of my professional Interviewingcareer, I have predominantly positive feelings about all of them.  That isn’t to say I have landed every job I was considered for.  I haven’t; but I do feel that I have learned a lot about interviewing along the way.  Some experiences have been great conversations where I was sure I would land the job, others were a little shaky at best in which I vividly remember lamenting not doing due diligence to the whole research the company aspect.  All in all, each interview opportunity has helped me grow professionally and taught me a great deal about myself, specifically my strengths, weaknesses, and values.

Many times when I meet with students and the topic of interviewing comes up students often ask how to answer a specific question.  I typically rattle off a way to tackle the proposed query and students say, “Well, you make it look easy.”  The thing is interviewing isn’t easy, but it should be.  Here are some tips on making the interviewing process less nerve racking and more of a professional development process.

1.)    Practice:  Yes, this is redundant and on every interviewing prep article you will read, but it really does help in the process.  Don’t practice to sound rehearsed, just be mindful of what questions might be asked and have personal work scenarios ready to share that showcase your experience.

2.)    Research: I mentioned earlier that I recall an interview I had where I didn’t do the research I should have and this was definitely evident during the interview.  This lack of prep hurt me on two levels.  One, I couldn’t answer a question about the company mission in the manner that a serious applicant should.  Two, it diminished my confidence and allowed my mind to wander to “should have’s” instead of staying present in the conversation at hand.

3.)    Interview the Company:  Ask yourself do you want to work here?  Is this a culture you feel would match your values and style?  Look around.  Watch how employees work and collaborate.  How is the office set up? What is the structure?  Ask questions about professional development opportunities during the interview.  Listen to the pronouns used when talking about team dynamics.  Is it a “my” or “we” culture?  Having this approach in your interviewing style will show the company that you are also taking them in.  Yes you are interested but you are also valuable and you want this to be mutually beneficial to both parties.

4.)    BE YOURSELF:  Be yourself only a bit better.  Be polished, be professional but by all means don’t be somebody you are not just to fit into what you think the employer may or may not want.  If you are offered this job and accept, you will spend 40 hours a week (on a good week) in this role, with these people, working in this culture.  You want to feel free to be authentic.  Start that authenticity during the interview.  Plus, a good hiring manager or HR professional can spot a phony pretty early on in an interview dialogue.

5.)    Have a Conversation: Interviews feel natural and honest when you approach them as a conversation with the style and nature that feels comfortable and easy.  Make an effort to converse before and after the standard questions are asked and actively listen to your interviewer.  Show that you also want to learn about him or her and you care about what he or she is telling you.

Take each interview opportunity seriously, do your research, and approach the interviewing table with a good deal of ease.  This approach will allow you to feel good about the interview and learn from it, whether you land the job or not.

Career Tools

Paper or Email?

During the last CareerBytes session with the General Mills Recruiter, students traditionalthankyouhad questions about sending a hand-written thank note vs. electronic thank you note. And definitely as said by the recruiter, hand-written thank you note makes one stand out in the crowd and makes the interaction more personable. Here is an article written by our professor Laura French in Star Tribune. She has given words to the thoughts/expertise of our own HR Expert – Annelise Larson. This article concisely captures the situations where technology could be leveraged and where it is still okay to stay conventional.

Interview, Personal Development

Rethinking your Weaknesses

The idea of doubling your strengths by transforming the way you look at your weaknesses sounds good in Talking up your strengthstheory but is it practical or realistic?  A recent article in Business Week by Marshall Glodsmith discusses psychologist Tommy Thomas’s  theory that weaknesses are actually strengths and what effect this altered view can have on professionals’ overall achievement.

In terms of career development, the word “weakness” always takes me back to the common interview question, “Tell me about your areas of development.”  Interviewees are encouraged to take their weakness and make it a positive.  Looking at your all your characteristics in a positive light actually makes answering this question easier.  The trick is researching the company you are interviewing with and determining what the company deems a strength/weakness.  Here are a couple common “weaknesses” as seen by many US Fortune 500 companies and a way to look at them as a strength.

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Job Search

Top 7 ways job seekers sabotage themselves.

Lists are everywhere lately.  Dave Letterman has been giving us “The Late Show Top 10” for Birddecades but it seems recently we categorize nearly every aspect of our lives into lists, from Rolling Stone Magazine’s 10 worst songs of the 80’s, to Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine’s yearly Best of the Twin Cities.  Websites devoted to career development are no exception. Career expert contributors frequently post lists of top tips when it comes to job searching. I must admit, I like reading things in list form.  It’s easy, simple, and I get excited to see what will make the #1 slot.

When I came across this article featured in Yahoo Finance titled The Top 7 Ways Job Seekers Sabotage Themselves, naturally I had to read it.  There are some obvious job seeker mistakes mentioned such as showing up unprepared.  Hopefully, most job seekers will have heard and understand the importance of doing their research on a company before they are sitting in front of a hiring manager in an interview.  What I valued in this list are the obscure choices.  I was drawn to the things we don’t focus on quite so often, like talking too much, which happens to be at the top of the list.  Overt eagerness can actually hurt you, the article states.  Showing restraint, taking a breath before speaking and just being mindful of the question asked and the way you answer it is extremely important.  This is particularly true in a phone interview.  Show that you are valuable but not waiting with bated breath for an offer.  There is a fine balance job seekers need to juggle when showing interest without desperation.

Other nice points to avoid on the list include, not knowing your value and jumping the gun on an offer.  Read the complete article and let us know if you have any other job seeker mistakes to add.