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Career Tip of the Month


3 Things Employers Want to Know

Arnie Fertig wrote an article in US News & World Report on Dec. 30, 2014 that provides an insightful look into the interviewing process from the employer's perspective.

In the article, he asks you to imagine that you are shopping for an electronic widget and have several models from which to choose. As part of making an intelligent purchasing decision, what would you want to know about the widget?

? Is it in my price range?

? Will it perform as advertised?

? Will it live up to my expectations?

Makes sense right? Now let's translate this line of questioning to the job search process. Specifically, when interviewing for a position, what are the basic questions an employer would want to know about you?

1. "Is it in my price range?" = "What are your salary expectations?"

Can I (the employer) get you (the candidate) for the amount of salary I can afford to offer? Many employers are not able, or not willing to, negotiate on salary, especially when it comes to hiring recent graduates with little work experience for entry-level positions. So it pays to know what the going salary is for your major. If you are going to ask for a higher salary, then be prepared to show what extra value/skills/ability, etc. the employer is going to get for spending the extra money.

2. "Will it perform as advertised?" = "Can you do the job?"

Claiming that you can do the job will be more powerful if you can back it up with concrete examples, a killer portfolio, and great references. This is also why many employers will ask you to do skills testing, or answer "tricky" or thought-provoking questions. They are trying to determine how you approach problems or issues that will commonly arise on the job.

3. "Will the widget live up to my expectations?" = "Will you actually perform well on the job?"

In other words, will you do the job, and will you do it well after we hire you? To help answer this question, employers tend to look at the past as a guide for what to expect in the future. That's why the most impressive resumes are those filled with fact-based accomplishments rather than simple descriptions of current or former job responsibilities. In the interview, you?ll likely be asked about your accomplishments. In the article, the author suggests that you tell stories rather than brag. (Example: Instead of saying, "I'm the best at ...," say instead, "This is what I did in this situation, and these were the results.") If you don't have real work examples, cite examples from your work in your classes, clinicals, practicums, or student teaching experiences. Another part of this concern is your attitude (Will you actually work on the job?) and your ongoing reliability (How long will you stay after I train you?). Be prepared to dispell an employer's concerns when they ask you the standard question, "Where do you see yourself in five years?"

If you approach the interview process with an understanding that the employer has some legitimate concerns that you can reasonably address, you'll be well on your way to landing the job and moving your career forward.