If you are a senior or a recent graduate, you must be thinking about or participating in job interviews. What pressure! Yesterday, Hugh Hewitt broadcast his daily radio program from the Riverside campus of California Baptist University. Before a live audience, he asked students which issues were most important to them in the upcoming state and federal elections.
One young man from Sacramento, Calif., an accounting major, said the biggest concern for CBU students is finding a job after graduation. Mr. Hewitt offered a sobering statistic to emphasize the pressure students are dealing with--half of recent grads are jobless. Being ready for upcoming job interviews is almost as critical as getting through that beastly organic chemistry class.
For weeks now, my 25-year-old recently married daughter has been navigating the rough seas of job applications, interviews, second interviews, and job offers not commensurate with her bachelor's degree or professional experience. Some days the slog is disheartening, to say the least. Sometimes the encouraging words she hears from interviewers fill her sails and she's off again.
Yesterday, during an interview for a position a with a well-known non-profit organization, the interviewer asked, "If you could pick any job anywhere, doing anything, what would be the title of that job?" Stumped? How would you answer that one? Would your answer guarantee a call back for a second interview?
"I don't know if I gave the best answer, Mom," she told me on her way to her temp job at a fitness club. "I told the interviewers that I'm not looking for a title, that I'm more interested in being able to influence others for good."
"WOW!" I exclaimed on the phone to my weary of interviewing daughter. I went on to encourage her by pointing out that her answer had given the interviewers insight into her character.
It's easy to have a list of job titles that fit our financial and career goals, or dream job rubric. But it's tough to anticipate the interview questions that might stump us. As the clock ticks towards your graduation, be proactive about landing a job. Haunt your career services department, go to job fairs, apply for internships, network with people you trust. And once in a while, role play the whole job interviewing process with a friend. Ask each other out of the box questions. And take the interviews for jobs that might not be your "fit" because even though practice might not make us perfect, it prepares us for the unexpected.
By the way, my daughter got a call back--her "not looking for a title" answer was just right.