Tagged: job interviews

Before You answer An Interview Question Do This

Imagine you’re sitting in an interview for your dream job.
The interviewer asks you a big question, and your answer will make or break your chances of getting the job.
Everything’s on the line.
What’s the best way to answer so that you create a strong impression?
Not the way most people answer. Most folks list every reason they believe qualifies them for the job.
Why is that a bad strategy?
Shouldn’t you lay out all the reasons why you’re perfect the job?
Actually, no.
Consider this:
If I asked you to remember a nine-digit number, chances are you’d have a hard time recalling them all later. But if I asked you to remember a three-digit number, you’d have no problem.
So it goes with interviews.
If you lay all your cards on the table at once, it’s too much information. At the end of the day, an exhausted interviewer may have a few notes from your interview, but may not be able to remember much of what was actually said.
The key to giving memorable answers is ONLY responding with one or two clear points that directly answer the question and make a strong impression they won’t soon forget.
That’s where the “3-Second Rule” comes in:
Next time an interviewer asks you a question, resist the urge to share everything you think they need to hear. Instead, take three seconds and think to yourself: “What is the one big point I need to make to answer this question?”
After you’ve decided which card to play, then make your clear, compelling point and stop right there.
Your answer will be MUCH more memorable, and this will dramatically increase your chances of acing the interview.
How do you know which card to play?
It may sound obvious, but the key is crafting solid points ahead of time, and practicing your answers.
When you rehearse your answers before the interview, you’ll be able to stay cool under pressure. You’ll be able to take advantage of the “3-Second Rule” and choose your best, most succinct answer. And you’ll be able to make your one (or two at most) big points with confidence.

Looking For A Job? Low GPA? Try This

From the National Association of Colleges and Employers

Emmit from ITESM asked:

“At the beginning of my studies I had some personal problems that affected my performance, at the end I did very good on my courses but I have a bad GPA. How should I handle this situation on an interview?”

Hello Emmit. I am sure many other students can relate to your challenge of having a personal issue that affected their grades in college. You may be surprised to know that you are not alone and also relieved to hear that having a low GPA is not the end of the world for your job search.

According to a Fall 2016 National College Health Assessment, 50% of undergraduate students and close to 40% of graduate students in U.S. colleges found it traumatic or very difficult to handle academics in the past year. Many students have difficulty adjusting to college academic work and sometimes have added personal stresses

How Do I Find Employers that Don’t Screen for GPA When Hiring?

Although 70% of larger companies often screen for GPA when hiring (according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2017 Report) the good news is that many smaller employers do not screen for GPA when hiring. How do you find thITESM, ese employers?

  • Look at job postings to see what the application requires. If the application form requires a GPA or transcripts, that may be an indication that GPA matters (not necessarily in all cases).
  • Create a list of employers of interest and check in with your career service office at Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores (ITESM) to see which ones may not require a high GPA. Having worked in a college career service office for over 10 years, I had close relationships with many of the employers and their hiring requirements.
  • Conduct informational interviews (brief 20-30 minute conversations with people who work at companies that interest you) and ask them how important was GPA in the application and interview process.

If I am Required to Disclose My GPA in My Application, What Can I Do to Offset This?

Show that you were balancing multiple activities outside of coursework. If you worked in addition to taking classes, specify how many hours/ week you were working. If you served as a leader of a student organization, be sure to include these additional activities and highlight any achievements on your resume. Relevant experience in your field can often be more important than a high GPA. Be sure to highlight any internships, relevant coursework, academic projects and volunteer work that may demonstrate relevant skills in your field.

If I Do Get Asked About My GPA During an Interview, What Should I Say?

While it is unlikely that you will get asked to explain your GPA in an interview (especially if your GPA is not required for your application), it could happen. Think about what happened and how you can frame it into a positive story. Leave out any deeply personal issues that may be awkward and hard to explain or that might raise a red flag.

As a hypothetical example, you might say that your family’s financial circumstances changed and you ended up having to work two jobs while taking a full load of classes to help cover your tuition and that your grades suffered. Be sure to add that you were able to work hard and pick your grades back up in your final year. Employers like to hear that you can bounce back from adversity.

Best of luck to you with your job search Emmit!


There are many problems that we can solve together!   stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679


5 Tips For Interview Prep

The best way to have calm nerves when facing an interview is to begin preparing before you get the call.  These 5 are proven and professional.

1. Like a politician, have your talking points ready.  Know your strengths as they relate to the position and your ability to do the job.  Have anecdotes  prepared that show your past performance at these tasks.

2. Your talking points are stories and anecdotes that show your past successes and ability to meet the needs of the role you are interviewing for.  At a college interview  you will show how you will add to the campus culture through your interests and high school experiences.

3, Know who the interviewers will be.  Google them to find commonalities that will make them more familiar and give you points for small talk at the beginning of the interview.  For students, learn if the interviewer is a graduate of the college and prepare a couple of questions to ask about that experience.

4. Know before you go.  The more you know about the role, company and industry the better prepared you will be and the more confident you will feel.  The job-and the college admission-go to the one who can demonstrate their fit.  The only way to do that is to know more than the other candidates!

5. Follow your answer with questions that give the interviewer the opportunity to explain more about the job or company.  Good questions are “What are your top priorities for the person you hire?” or “What do you think first year students should prioritize during the first few weeks on campus?”  You will appear savvy and make the interview more conversational.  A definite stress-buster!

It doesn’t hurt to write down some of the questions you think the interviewer will ask and practice with someone asking them.  Practice getting the information you want the interviewer to know into your conversation to avoid the head-slapping realization that you missed opportunities to sell your best qualities.

I’m ready to practice with you and have dozens of questions we can prep.  Stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679


5 Communication Errors to Overcome NOW!

Here are five common communication bloopers to take out of your vocabulary.  Using them can cost you an interview, an internship or a job.  Besides, they can be down right annoying.  We all do some or all of these.  My particular failing is starting sentences with so. So, what do you want for dinner?

  1. Text speak and emojis are only appropriate when texting casual information to friends.  Never use either in a text that could be shared with someone having the power to recommend or hire you.
  2. Tame the exuberant high-five expressions that are followed by an exclamation point.   Too often we go overboard with Sweet!, Yes! or Way-to-go!  when a simple congratulations, thank you or well done is sufficient to show that you are on board.
  3. Ditch the fillers such as umm and uh.  Begin to listen for them as you talk.  You will be amazed as I was with how many you stick into a short conversation.
  4. Likewise, eliminate “like” and “you-know”.  A silent pause is a better choice if you need a second to organize your thoughts.  Try counting how often you use these fillers to see how annoying they can be.
  5. Don’t start sentences with “so” and keep your voice from rising at the end signaling a question.  So, lets get this over to the print shop (?).

It takes a while to do away with our bad habits.  Start now on a strict diet and see how quickly you can become free of communication annoyances.

For more tips on professional communication give me a call. 610-212-6679; stephanie@accessguidance.com

Is Your Interview Outfit Sabotaging You?

Before you dress for an interview, take time to carefully choose what you will wear.   The outfit that is just right for Company A may not be perfect for Company B.  How do you know?

As you are doing your research on the company before you send the resume and before you land the interview, pay attention to the company culture, including how emloyees dress.  If you have an inside contact, ask how formally people at the level of the role you are seeking dress.  Suits?  Khakis with a suit jacket for meetings?  Khakis and a dress shirt or polo shirt?  Shorts and flip flops?  Your attire should match the job you will interview for, even if others dress more casually.



You can find clues in other places, too.

-Instagram photos taken in offices

-LinkedIn profile pictures

-The company website

-Call the office of the hiring manager’s office  and ask her/his secretary

Its OK to be a bit more formally dressed than your interviewer by wearing a blouse or dress shirt instead of a polo shirt, although you may seem stuffy if you show up in a power suit when the rest of the group is in business casual.

Is over-dressing a deal breaker?  Probably not  but you may feel uncomfortable.             Follow these tips s so that you will feel your best and do your best.

Hair clean and combed?

What foot print are you leaving?

Shoes clean, without obvious wear or scuffs?

Wearing hose or socks?  (Bare feet only if wearing casual sandals is appropriate)

Clothing clean and pressed?

Skirt long enough to protect privacy – yours and the interviewer’s?

Minimal, modest jewellery?

Large tatoos covered and piercings removed?

NB      To help interviewers remember which candidate your are from among a group of interviewees, bring or wear one item that is  memorable.   Wear or carry something distinctive but not distracting.   For women this could be a pin; interesting bracelet; a small square scarf tied around the strap on your handbag where it joins the bag itself.  For men, wear an interesting watch or carry a portfolio for your resume and pad with list of questions.  This way you are “the guy with the navy portfolio” or “the woman with the scarab bracelet”.

Need more tips on interviewing etiquette and practice answering the questions?   I regularly hold interview boot camps.  To join call 610-212-6679 or email stephanie@accessguidance.com



5 Questions You Need To Ask To Ace An Interview

exchange-of-ideas-222787_640It goes without saying that your interview prep is heavy on research into the company and the industry to which you are applying. Before you enter the interview room you should know how the job integrates into the company’s hierarchy and strategy. In the bigger picture, you need to understand where the company fits within the industry.

Interviewers expect candidates ask useful and insightful questions as a follow up to answering questions. When the interviewer pauses, its time to ask more pointed questions about the job.

1. How does this role ( or how will I) impact the performance of the company (or department)?  The answer to this question will give you insight into the integration of the position in the company.

2. What are your priorities for the first 90 after your new hire comes on board?  Knowing this will help you craft answers to the interviewer’s questions that allow you to demonstrate how well your experience helps the company meet objectives.

3. How will my success be measured?  The question asks for benchmarks and describes the company culture.

4. Tell me about your history with the company? Why do you choose to work here?  Candidates learn insider information about the strengths of the company and personal information about at least one employee.

5. Do you have any reservations about my qualifications?  The answer offers you another opportunity to clarify and reiterate you qualifications.

job-interview883879_640-1As always, you want to end by asking “What is the next step in the hiring process and  when will that take place?”  You need to know how and when you will be contacted to move forward.

A good interview is a conversation in which you show your qualifications for the job, your knowledge about the company and your commitment to helping the company reach its goals.

Want help prepping for an interview? 610-212-6679 or stephanie@accessguidance.com

5 Ways Your Parents Can Mess Up Your Job Interview


From Ask Matt Blog on the College Recruiter Website

Dear Matt: I’m responsible for hiring entry-level employees for a large company, and I am amazed at how many recent college grads have their parents reaching out to us on behalf of their children – they even show up at interviews! I thought helicopter parents were only involved at the youth and high school level. But we’re now seeing it in the business world. Can you remind your readers and all recent college grads that parental involvement shouldn’t take place in the workplace?

Matt: By one definition, a helicopter parent is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter parents are also prevalent at the youth and high school level, often hovering over their children and every decision involving those children at youth or high school activities, in school, or with friends.

And now, helicopter parents are invading the workplace. Yikes! It’s true.

“Believe it or not, recruiters and hiring managers are seeing a surprising influx of parental involvement in the job search, recruiting, and interviewing process,” says Brandi Britton, district president for OfficeTeam, the nation’s leading staffing service specializing in the temporary placement of highly skilled administrative and office support professionals. “As a staffing firm, we’ve heard our share of helicopter parent stories and experienced some unique situations with moms and dads ourselves.”

Today’s working parent can be a great resource for that recent college grad seeking job search advice, or with connecting them to members of their professional network. But they shouldn’t accompany their child to job interviews, contact employers on behalf of their child, or listen in on speaker phone or Skype/Facetime during the interview. Those are all things that are happening today and all things recent college grads should be sure to avoid to land that first job, or move forward in their career.

According to a survey of 608 senior managers by Office Team, 35 percent of senior managers interviewed said they find it annoying when helicopter parents are involved in their kids’ search for work. Another one-third (34 percent) of respondents prefer mom and dad stay out of the job hunt, but would let it slide. Only 29 percent said this parental guidance is not a problem.

The reasons for mom and dad getting involved are simple, says Britton: Recent college grads may not have as much job search experience and therefore turn to their parents for guidance.

“The job search process can be extremely challenging and daunting,” says Britton. “Parental support and advice throughout the process can help you stay positive and on track.”


“Although most parents mean well with their efforts, they need to know where to draw the line to avoid hurting their son or daughter’s chances of securing a job,” says Britton

Managers were also asked to recount the most unusual or surprising behavior they’ve heard of or seen from helicopter parents of job seekers. Here are some of their responses:

  • “The candidate opened his laptop and had his mother Skype in for the interview.”
  • “A woman brought a cake to try to convince us to hire her daughter.”
  • “One parent asked if she could do the interview for her child because he had somewhere else to be.”
  • “A father asked us to pay his son a higher salary.”
  • “One mom knocked on the office door during an interview and asked if she could sit in.”
  • “Parents have arrived with their child’s resume and tried to convince us to hire him or her.”
  • “A job seeker was texting his parent the questions I was asking during the interview and waiting for a response.”
  • “Once a father called us pretending he was from the candidate’s previous company and offered praise for his son.”
  • “Parents have followed up to ask how their child’s interview went.”
  • “A father started filling out a job application on behalf of his kid.”
  • “I had one mother call and set up an interview for her son.”
  • “Moms and dads have called to ask why their child didn’t get hired.”

When it comes to parental involvement in the job search, Britton provided the five biggest mistakes college grads make when involving parents in the job search:

  1. Parents should avoid direct contact with potential employers. They should not participate in interviews or call, email or visit companies on behalf of their children.
  2. Job seekers should be the ones filling out the applications and submitting resumes, not their parents.
  3. Helicopter parents should steer clear of involvement in following up after their child has applied or interviewed for a position.
  4. Having your mom or dad try to bribe a potential employer is a definite no-no. In our survey, one woman brought a cake to a company to try to convince them to hire her daughter.
  5. Parents shouldn’t be involved in job offer discussions, such as negotiating salary or benefits.

“Parents should absolutely not be included in their children’s job interviews,” says Britton. “The meeting is meant to be a discussion involving only the interviewer(s) and job candidate. “Parents participating in interviews can distract from the goal of making sure it’s a fit for the applicant and employer. The employer is evaluating whether to hire the applicant — not his or her parent.”

Employers usually appreciate candidates who are assertive, but when a parent is clearly handholding or answering questions for their child, it sends the message that the individual lacks initiative and independence, adds Britton.

Does this automatically eliminate a candidate?

“Not all employers will automatically take a candidate out of contention if his or her parents become too involved in the job search, but chances are that most hiring managers would be put off by this type of behavior,” says Britton. “Parents who become overly involved in their children’s job searches can cause more harm than good because employers may question the applicant’s abilities and maturity.”

Professionals need to take ownership of their careers – they’re responsible for applying to and ultimately landing positions. So how can parents assist recent college grads in the job search? Britton offered these additional tips on how parents can assist recent college grads in the job search:

  1. Uncovering hidden job opportunities: Family members and others in your network can be great sources for advice and help you uncover hidden job opportunities.
  2. Job search and interview preparation: It’s perfectly fine to tap your parents for behind-the-scenes assistance, such as reviewing resumes, conducting mock interviews or offering networking contacts.
  3. Access to professional contacts: Parents or those in their network can provide access to contacts at companies or alert you to opportunities.
  4. Resume and cover letter review: Have your mom or dad review your resume and cover letter to ensure they’re error-free and clearly showcase the most important information.
  5. Mock interview assistance: Prepare for interviews by practicing responses to common (and tricky) questions with your parents. They can also provide constructive criticism regarding your answers and delivery.
  6. Decision-making: Juggling a few offers? Children may want to get their parents’ opinions when weighing potential opportunities. But ultimately, it’s the job seekers decision, not the parents.

“Parents want the best for their kids, but being overly involved in a child’s job search can cause more harm than good,” says Britton. “It’s a positive for mom and dad to help behind the scenes by reviewing resumes, conducting mock interviews and offering networking contacts. However, ultimately, companies seek employees who display self-sufficiency and maturity.”

If you want to send the blog post to someone you know here’s the url” https://www.owler.com/reports/college-recruiter/ask-matt–recent-college-grads-shouldn-t-let-helic/1476788529147

Are you ready for some positive suggestions for acing your interview?  Ask Stephanie at 610-212-6679 or stephanie@accessguidance.com

Tell Me About Yourself: Say This, Not That

One of the most frequently used opening questions in an interview is “Tell me about interview-panelyourself”?  It may sound like an invitation to explain how the nuns wacked your left hand so you would learn to write with your right one, but the interviewer has  a more limited objective in asking.

“Tell me” is an invitation to jump right in and explain how you are the perfect person for the job.  Since you have already researched the company, interviewer and the particulars of the position, you will be able to pair the requirements with your experience, knowledge and accomplishments for the most important items on the company’s list.

Focus on illustrating how you will add value in this role.   Use numbers whenever possible:

-Managed an office serving 200 customers per day

-Controlled a budget of $1million

-Cut costs by 20%

-Reduced time from concept to product by 15% by removing redundancies

-Increased output by 10% by cross-training workers

Next, mention your strengths such as motivating the team, time and resource management, or attention to detail.

Then add your knowledge of software, specific programs, or certifications pertinent to this job.

It sounds like a lot of information to get across but keep your answer as brief as possible and to the point.  Your response should take 2-3 minutes.

But isn’t this info on your resume?  Yes, it is but in back-to-back interviews its possible that your resume won’t be reviewed just before you walk in the door.  The written document will have detail and expand on your oral statement.

Craft your response before the interview and practice so that you look polished and professional in the interview.

For College Interviews

Practice is still your best asset in an interview.  Focus on what attracts you to this college and how the college will help you reach a goal.  Talk about something that isn’t on the application or isn’t detailed.  Do you take dance classes, practice yoga, are you becoming certified to teach martial arts?  College admissions folks love to hear about your passions, hobbies and interests!

interview-recording-717291_640Interview prep can make the difference between a so-so experience and a great, over-the-top interview.  I’d love to brainstorm answers to interview questions, practice with you and provide feedback.  stephanie@accessguidance.com or 610-212-6679




5 Do’s For Video Interviews or Applications

Video is becoming an important tool for colleges and recruiters to get to know candidates who are a distance away. You can help yourself by preparing before you are asked to produce a show starring YOU! Get ready soon because video interviews can pop up unexpectedly, even if you aren’t actively looking for a job right now.

Phones Make Good Videos Too
Phones Make Good Videos Too
  1. Consider what you want the interviewer to know about you .  What amplifies your resume and supports your claim to fame?  How many people do you supervise?  What problems have you solved?  How have you added to the bottom line in your current position?  Even if you are a volunteer or intern you should have confirming evidence.  Practice your answers to common questions.
  2. Test the equipment you will use.  Do you have an external microphone or is the one in your computer clear enough to carry your message?  What shows in the camera besides your face?  Prepare the setting by removing clutter, photos or anything else that may be distracting.  Do a test run with a friend.
  3. Choose a place where the light will be front of you, not behind or place lighting so that your face is lit.  A neutral background will help you stand out.
  4. Close the door so that the dog or traffic won’t be part of the ambiance.
  5. Dress as you would for face-to-face interviews.  Avoid patterns or colors that blend in with the background.

If you are a high school student preparing for a video application such as Tufts or Goucher accepts, follow the general guidelines.  In # 1 above, you will want to choose experiences or traits that reveal your personality.  Tell a story.  One of my favorite video applications was screen shots of the candidate’s many pairs of shoes and occasions when they were worn.

#5, What to wear, suggests you select an outfit that illustrates your story without distracting from your words.  You will be performing on camera so think of your clothing as a costume.
camera-videoCheck out videos from previous years to see some good examples.

Good luck often depends on good planning.  Being ready at a moment’s notice will help you relax before you face the camera.  I wish you successful planning and execution of your video encounters.

To learn more about using video, text or call 610-212-6679 or email stephanie@accessguidance.com.


Use This To Keep Your Foot In The Door: A Thank You Letter


So you’ve had an interview for an internship or a job and you believe that the interviewer

Learn To Write Thank You Letters!
Learn To Write Thank You Letters!

is interested in you.  Maybe you’ve had an interview with a college admissions representative. How do you re-inforce the good impression you’ve made?

Writing a thank you within 24 hours lets the interviewer know that you are interested in the job (or college) and excited about the opportunity to work for this company (attend the university).  Its OK to send the note via email or on  a professional looking note card or stationery through the postal service.

The key to writing a great thank you is to forget everything you write on Twitter and in texts.  No abbreviations or emojis.  Ever!  This a a formal piece of writing and give it the respect and time it deserves.

Employment/internship interview

Email subject line:  Thank you for the interview

Salutation: Dear Mr. Thomas, or Dear Dr. Thomas,

First paragraph: Thank the interviewer for including you in the interview.  Show appreciation for something specific you learned on the company tour or from the interviewer about the company.  You can mention that you learned that the interviewer shares  an interest or hobby of yours.

Second paragraph: If appropriate, mention a problem the company faces and an idea for meeting the challenge. Ex  “You mentioned that you are looking for a way to connect with younger customers.  Have you considered purchasing ad space in the sports and drama programs of local high schools?”

Third paragraph, reiterate your interest in the company and in this specific position. Restate your qualifications that match with the job’s, restate your personal qualities that match the company culture.

Fourth paragraph, ask when you can expect to hear about the next round of interviews or when the next decision on who to hire will be taken.

Sign off using  Sincerely, or Best Regards, followed by a comma and put your name on the next line  If this is not an email sign your name, don’t type it.

If you have been interviewed by a committee, everyone on the committee should receive a thank you. They should be similar but not identical  Try to mention something that each recipient said during the interview.  Send them all at about the same time.

College Interview


Subject line: Thank you for the interview

If you have just had an interview for college admission you can be less formal.  Its Ok to say “Hello,” instead of Dear So-and-So.   You should thank them for the opportunity to talk to them about X College and be sure to mention something you learned that interests or excites you  You can ask a follow up question or ask for clarification.

In the next paragraph say that you are looking forward to applying and hope to receive a letter of acceptance.

If, by chance, what you learned changed your mind about applying, in the body paragraph say that the interviewer gave you great information about X College and that you now see that you and the college are not a fit.  Why would you write a thank you letter if you aren’t interested?  You send the letter because it is the proper, mature and professional thing to do.  You will get practice in letter writing and gain confidence that you can handle uncomfortable situations.

Sign off using Sincerely,  and sign below.

Over the course of your professional life you will have many occasions to write letters.  Practice now writing a short, direct, thank you that helps you make a connection to other professionals.  You never know when the person who interviewed you will pop up in your life again and remember that you made the effort to connect through a thank you note.

This Says It All
This Says It All