Bobcats In The Field: Graduate Gives 5 Tips for Navigating the Interview & Job Acceptance Process-Keep Your Seat Belts Fastened!

I hope you didn’t unfasten your seat belts!  Sara Stanton is back to finish navigating us through her job search process with 5 helpful tips on interviewing, juggling  job offers and researching company culture.   Sara, now a recent graduate of the Rhetoric program here at Georgia College, recounts how she juggled multiple job offers and landed her job with Altitude Business Group (Family Heritage Insurance) in Denver, Colorado.  Fasten your seat belts!

My Interview Process 

I probably applied for about fifteen jobs (side note: from what I’ve heard, this is very low, but because I gave myself so much time, I was very picky about what I applied for…not to mention, cover letters are very tedious…), so I went through the full interview process with 2 jobs.  The first job was a Director of The Fund for Equality (Human Rights Campaign) Denver; this interview process was pretty typical. It look a little over a month. First, I had a screening interview over the phone with another director. From my experience, phone screens are really in place so they can tell you more details about the position of the job, make sure you’re serious about the position, and answer any questions you may have about the interview process or position. The key here is to be enthusiastic; remember you’re on the phone, so you’ve got to pay attention to the way you sound (it helps to smile). From there, I had a phone interview with an executive member of the organization; this was definitely more traditional. They asked me personality questions, scenario-questions, and I had the opportunity to ask them questions too.

Tip # 1– ALWAYS ask questions! I had a list of 5-6 questions to ask the interviewer about the job/company/etc. It tells them that you aren’t just interested, but you’re eager, you’re curious, you’ve done your research, and you care about the company. Lastly, I had a Skype interview with the gal who would be my direct boss. She asked me more job-specific questions (so, scenarios that only a director would have to deal with/be part of), and then clarified the nitty-gritty details of the position (like salary). Again, ask questions if you are given the opportunity.

Tip #2 – If you have a video interview, make sure you are in an appropriate location! Don’t have your bed in the background and make sure there is are no distracting noises.  After this interview, they called me a few days later and offered me the position; I asked for an extension to accept or decline, so I had two weeks to give them my final answer. I worked part-time for this organization during all of December break in order to, one, get my foot in the door, and two, see if it was the right fit for me! This was extremely beneficial in the interview process because I could give examples that came straight from my experience working in the company, and they had insight into who I was, how I worked with others, and how dedicated I was to the organization.

Tip #3 – If you have ANY opportunity to volunteer, intern or work part-time with a company you’re interested in, I would highly recommend doing it! It helped me to make my final decision when accepting a job.  The second job was a Sales  representative for Altitude Business Group (Family Heritage Insurance) Denver; This interview process was a little less traditional; it only took two weeks. I applied for this job on a Sunday and got a call to have a phone screen, which we ended up doing on the spot, on Monday afternoon. After the phone screen, which was similar to the one I mentioned above, I had an interview with the President of the company about a week later. Before this interview, I had to watch a 40 minute video about the company, the job, and lots of nitty-gritty details about everything! After watching the video, I had to fill out a pretty detailed questionnaire/worksheet of basic interview questions to send back to the President before we spoke; my answers were then used as part of my phone interview with the President! The really cool thing about this was that the video and worksheet required me to really think about myself, the position, the company, and why I would be a great fit/how I would succeed/where I would struggle/etc. It was very helpful when the real interview happened! The phone interview with the President lasted for about an hour and fifteen minutes; we discussed most of the questions I had answered on the worksheet, and then any questions I had about any details that had been covered in the video or during the interview. The President called me back the next day to offer me the position, and I accepted!


Job Acceptance Advice

Tip #4 – Do NOT feel like you have to accept your first job offer just because you don’t have anything else on the table at the moment!  A little more info about job acceptance…so I actually had to juggle these offers at the same time. I was offered the job with The Fund for Equality right before I applied to work for Altitude Business Group (ABG). Because I had worked for The Fund during December break, I knew that it was a job I could absolutely do, but I also knew that it would be a very stressful, very time consuming position for very little pay. I kept it in the cards in case nothing else came along, but when an opportunity arose to interview for another position, I asked for an extension to accept or decline my offer. I ended up getting a job offer from ABG on the final day of my extension with The Fund for Equality. I bring all of this up to say  It is SO important to listen to your gut- if you aren’t that excited about an opportunity, it is okay to say no. You gained interview experience, negotiation experience, and you’re giving yourself an opportunity to find something better suited for you!

Company Culture

Tip #5 – I highly recommend checking out the “About Us” section before applying to work anywhere! Something that I kept in mind throughout all of my job searching was that I wanted to work for a company or organization that aligned with my values. Basically every place you apply for will have an “About Us” section on their website, and within that section, they’ll most likely state their company’s mission statement and/or core values. A lot of times, we are so pressured to get on with the job search and find something as soon as possible, but we have to remember that these companies are made up of the people we will be surrounding ourselves with every day, and we want to make sure we are right for them and they are right for us! I accepted the job that I did because from the information about company values and through speaking with recruiters and the President, I could tell (and was told) that I would mesh really well with everyone I was going to be working with. You want to represent a company that could also represent you and who you are!

Contact  the Career Center for all of your job search and interview needs.  Appointments are available all summer!

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