Nailing Interview Key to Summer Employment

Kate Ginley, Staff Writers

Summer is just around the corner and many students are fretting over their employment opportunities during the school break.

I’m in the midst of trying to line up a gig as a Recreational Leader at a camp.  If that falls through, I’m hoping to earn some cash as a tennis coach.

The thing is, without a lot of life experience, finding a real, paying job can be difficult for teens.

Senior Hayley Lyon is one student who has had success with early employment, having worked as a swim instructor, jewelry assistant and babysitter. She is currently employed at a veterinarian office. Lyon explains, “I have had a job since I was like 15 and I think it’s important because it prepares you for when you’re older and you can start getting experience when you’re young.”

Wanting a job and actually impressing a prospective employer enough for them to extend an opportunity are two different things.  Those who wish to beat out the competition for those coveted and quickly dwindling summer positions should consider the following job interview advice.

The Wall Street Journal suggests these tips in preparation for a successful interview.

  • Get your wardrobe in order and give yourself more travel time than you think you might need.
  • Visualize the interview. Picture yourself as poised, confident, articulate.
  • Make a list of your strengths and weakness and practice how you will articulate them.
  • Write out answers to the questions you don’t want to be asked. It will help alleviate your anxiety.

Saint Mary’s college student Kelsey Nestor, who has worked in her dad’s restaurant in Sacramento for years, advises dressing for success in order to get hired. ‘”I would wear something very polished. No jeans. I would wear flats or small heels. Just very professional,” Nestor said. “So just very clean and polished, like you’re going to lunch with your grandma.”

Freshman Audrey Moore has had experience interviewing to be a babysitter as well as a pastry chef. Moore advises to “wear something classy but not overly fancy” to the interview.

“It is the first impression that they are going to get of you, of how you look, and how you carry yourself. If you come in looking disheveled or not cleanly, then that’s just the first thing they’re going to notice about you: you, for an important event such as an interview, came in looking not prepared,” said Nestor.

Before an interview, Nestor advised mental preparation as well. “I like to go over [it] in my head, like my strengths and my weaknesses and how I could turn my weaknesses into strengths. So if I feel like I am kind of bossy about something, I try to make it a positive thing like ‘I’m a very dedicated person,’ and ‘I like to dedicate myself to what I’m doing,’ and ‘I don’t like to stop until it’s done.’ Just focusing on why I’m fit for that job and just going over my resume and also going over what the job is and researching the company that I’m interviewing for and seeing how I could benefit their company.”

Moore thinks that relaxing is also important when going into the interview: “I tell myself that they are going to like me and just to be myself,” Moore explained.

“A lot of interviews start with them trying to get to know you personally like ‘What do you like to do? What are your hobbies?’ Then they go on about ‘Why would you be good for our company? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Have you had experience in the past? If you don’t have experience in the past then why is it beneficial for us to have you here?’ They make you say why they need you,” said Nestor.

Moore admits that being put on the spot cab be unnerving. “I’m afraid the people aren’t going to like me or I’m not going to know how to answer the questions. I try to answer the best I can and smile even more [if that happens],” she said.

According to Nestor, the toughest part of an interview can be the moment a prospective employer asks the candidate to explain his or her weaknesses.

“It’s really hard to answer, since everyone has weaknesses and you don’t want to admit you have a weakness, but you need to find something. You can’t just not answer so you have to think of something that is also a positive thing without sounding arrogant,” Nestor explained.

Both Nestor and Moore have specific strategies they use to find employment. Nestor has seven steps to success: “1. A very well written resume. 2. A direct cover letter with my resume. 3. To look professional. 4. To do correct follow ups and actually make an appointment and not just show up to the business. 5. To be in contact with whoever is in charge 6. Remaining confident. 7. To not get nervous [sic].”

Moore’s recipe includes being respectful, dressing professionally and practicing her responses in advance.

Nestor recently interviewed for a position at The Cooperage, a trendy Lafayette restaurant. “I was looking for jobs online and I found one. They said to email the resume and I made sure my resume was up to date and that I had actual references. That’s another thing a lot of people forget; to not lie on a resume, because it’s really easy for them to find out [the truth],” Nestor said. “So I just made sure my resume was really up to date and factual. Then we set up an interview and I was just a few minutes early. It’s not good to be really early because then you’re going to fluster the manager.”

“I explained how I worked up in the restaurant industry, going from working in the kitchen, to host, to managing and all of the different systems that I knew and understood which really impressed them. It was a pretty easy interview because I went in with the confidence, so it was breezy,” Nestor explained.

Nestor said, “It’s really what you make of it. If you go in thinking ‘Ugh, I’m never going to get this job’ then you probably won’t, but if you go in thinking ‘I have a really good shot and I think I have more to offer them and they should want me to work for them,’ then you are one step closer to actually getting that job.”