Networking & Interviewing
Getting involved in professional associations in your field is a great way to build your network. Participating in meetings, volunteering on committees and attending conferences will help you develop new contacts in your field. Look for local chapters of any association online.
Job Search Networking Groups
These are informal groups of job hunters who meet regularly to trade job search and networking ideas. They can be a great way to get support for your job search and to learn from the experiences of fellow job hunters who are also out there making contacts.
The Networking Interview
Networking and informational interviews can provide valuable information and contacts for your job search. Make the most of your contacts by planning your questions in advance. Think about each contact’s areas of expertise and how they can be helpful to you. Also prepare a one-minute introduction about yourself summarizing your skills and background. Always follow-up on your meeting by sending a thank you note.
- Your 1-minute introduction
Begin with a brief statement about your background and what you are looking for. For example: “I’ve been working as a human resources generalist for a software company for the past three years, and had some recruiting and client relations experience before that. I’m now thinking about where I want to go next and am looking for opportunities for advancement outside my company. I know that because of your position, you have a good sense of what’s happening in the industry. I’d like to review some of my ideas with you.”
- Networking Questions
- How did you get into this field?/What special skills did you have coming into this job?
- What tasks do you like most/least in your job?
- Who do you interact with on a regular basis?
- What special skills did you learn on the job?
- What will you need to learn to stay or advance in this job/industry?
- How would you describe the culture of your employer? How is the culture similar or different to others in your industry?
- Where do you see yourself in 3, 5, and 10 years?
- What related industries would you consider working in?
- What is the compensation for someone in various levels in this industry?
- What are trends affecting this industry?
- What employment trends do you see?
- Who are the market leaders? Why?
- Who are the growing companies?
- How would my background be perceived?
- Are there freelance opportunities that would enable me to check out the field?
- What are the best sources of information about this industry?
- What professional associations would you recommend?
- Who are other people that you would suggest speaking with?
- Would you be willing to give me some feedback on my resume? What improvements would you suggest in terms of content and format?
- Based on my background, what kinds of jobs should I consider? What are some alternatives?
- Would you recommend working in an established company or a start up? Why?
- What skills are employers seeking?
- What questions should I be asking that I am not?
- Know the exact time, date, and location of the interview as well as the name of your interviewer.
- Dress professionally. Men should wear a suit or jacket and tie. Women should wear suits or a blazer and skirt or tailored dress.
- Have a neat copy of your resume and, printed on a separate page, the names and addresses of three references.
- Think about your strengths, skills, goals, and accomplishments—personal or work-related and write them down. Use this information to be prepare answers to the following questions:
Can you tell me about yourself?
How did you choose Suffolk? Your major?
What are your strengths/weaknesses?
Why are you interested in this particular job and company?
Why should I hire you for this job?
What do you hope to gain from your experience here?
Can you tell me about an accomplishment that you are proud of and how you achieved it?
- Plan on arriving 15 minutes early for your interview.
- Greet your interviewer with a firm handshake and a smile.
- Be aware of your posture. Try not to slouch or fidget. Maintain direct eye contact with the interviewer.
- Ask questions that demonstrate your interest in the position and company:
What do the job responsibilities entail?
Can you describe a typical day on the job?
What do you see as the most challenging aspects of this position?
How would you characterize the atmosphere of the office?
Is there a training program for co-op students?
To whom would I report?
Do not ask questions about salary, time off, benefits, etc. on a first interview. These will be discussed at a later time.
- Send a thank you letter [need hyperlink here] to the interviewer(s) reiterating your interest in the job and appreciation for the time and consideration given to you. Highlight important things you learned about the organization or position and indicate why you were interested in them.
Sample Thank You Letter
9 Wellington Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
Ms. Maria Patrillo
35 High Street
Boston, MA 02116
Dear Ms. Patrillo,
Thank you for meeting with me to discuss the Training Specialist position. I enjoyed speaking with the members of the Training Department team and believe the position is a good match with my background in designing and presenting dynamic training programs.
I was especially interested in hearing about CMD Corporation’s plans to initiate a distance learning program. In my last position, I researched vendors and managed the company’s first distance learning courses for our employees in satellite offices. Through this experience, I learned how to plan and implement successful courses via videoconferencing. I also taught a management development distance education course, which furthered my ability to facilitate discussions between local and satellite classrooms.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to interview with you. I look forward to speaking with you soon.
Behavioral interviewing is a style of interviewing that many companies use in their hiring process. Interviewers develop their questions based on skills and behaviors they have identified as being essential to the job. The interviewer’s questions are designed to have you describe past experiences that demonstrate these skills.
Preparing for the Interview
Use job descriptions and organizational literature to identify the core skills of the job. Some of the skills you may be evaluated on include:
- Presentation skills
- Analytical ability
- Problem Solving
- Attention to detail
- Sales ability
- Communication (oral and written)
- Strategic analysis
- Technical knowledge
- Financial analysis
- Planning and organizing
- Training ability
Using the Situation, Action, Result Approach
Your responses to the interviewer’s questions need to be specific and detailed. Always describe a particular situation that relates to the question, what action you took, and the positive result or outcome. This is the STAR approach:
- Situation or Task
- Result or outcome
When you prepare for the interview, identify a number of specific situations from your work history, academic experience, or community service that demonstrate skills relevant to the position.
Careful preparation is the key to an effective behavioral interview. To prepare for the interview, jot down examples from your experience that you would use to answer questions such as these:
- Give an example of how you implemented a creative idea that contributed to the success of a project.
- Describe a significant goal and how you achieved it, despite obstacles.
- What is the toughest group that you have had to get cooperation from? How did you do it?
- By providing examples, convince me that you can adapt to a wide variety of people, situations, and environments.
- Have you ever had to “sell” an idea to your co-workers, work group, or customer? How did you do it?
- Describe a time on the job in which you were faced with problems or stresses that tested your coping skills.
- Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty to get a job done.
- How did you handle a challenging situation with a customer?
- Describe a situation in which you worked effectively as a member or leader of a team to complete a project.
- How do you decide what gets top priority when scheduling your time? Give an example.
- What steps do you follow when studying a problem and deciding upon a solution?
- As a manager or leader, how have you handled a situation in which you had to discipline or counsel an employee or group member?
Leverage LinkedIn to Connect to Suffolk Alumni
We give you step-by-step instructions on how to use LinkedIn to network with over 60,000 Suffolk alumni. Download here [PDF].
The 50 Worst Job Interview Mistakes
We tell you the top 50 most common job interview mistakes. Download here [PDF].
We Reveal Best Questions to Ask in an Interview
Download an insightful guide to the right questions you should ask in an interview [PDF].
What Should You Wear?
Find out how to dress for success in an interview [PDF].
Ace That Interview!
This free guide [PDF] reveals dozens of tips for preparing for - and making the best impression during - that interview.
What Recruiters Want
Download our guide [PDF] to Behavioral Interview Questions .
Free Guide to the Art of Networking
Best Networking Questions
Behavioral Interviewing Guide
What's the STAR approach? Learn everything you need to know about Behavioral Interviewing [PDF].