UIC Office of Career Services

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UIC Office of Career Services
Student Services Building,
Suite 3050
1200 West Harrison Street
(M/C 099)
Chicago, Illinois 60607-3344
Phone: (312) 996-2300
Fax: (312) 413-0383

EMAIL:
ocs@uic.edu

OFFICE HOURS:
M-F : 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

WEBSITE:
http//careers.uic.edu

Contact Us

INTERVIEWING AND NETWORKING

WHY IS NETWORKING IMPORTANT?
INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS
NETWORKING TIPS
FINAL THOUGHTS ON NETWORKING
HOW TO PREPARE FOR INTERVIEWS
HOW TO ACT DURING INTERVIEWS
HOW TO FOLLOW UP AFTER INTERVIEWS
TYPES OF INTERVIEWS
WHAT TO WEAR TO AN INTERVIEW

Check out these short video on networking and interviewing to get the basics

WHY IS NETWORKING IMPORTANT?
When you are exploring career paths, the people you meet with can provide support, advice, and information on your career goals. When you are ready to search for jobs, your network can help you to identify open positions before they are advertised, greatly increasing your chances of finding a job.

INFORMATIONAL INTERVIEWS
Informational interviews are the most effective way to learn about a potential career or place of employment. Never ask for a job at an information interview. Instead, take the time to gather information, seek advice on your career goals, and develop professional relationships.

Below are the steps to a successful informational interview:

Before:

  • Identify professionals to speak with. Don't hesitate to ask - most people are happy to help out.
  • Set up informational interviews by phone or e-mail (ask for a 15-20 minute meeting).
  • Prepare a list of questions, such as "How did you prepare for your current role?" "What does it take to be successful at this company?" "What do you like/dislike about your job?" or "What recommendations do you have for someone preparing to enter this field?"
  • Have an "elevator speech" ready for when your contact asks you to tell them about yourself.

During:

  • Do NOT offer a copy of your resume unless you are asked!
  • Be respectful of time and wrap up the interview after the allotted time; 15-20 minutes usually works well.
  • Ask your prepared questions but be prepared to deviate depending on how the conversation goes.

After:

  • Send them a sincere thank you note (e-mail is fine).
  • Maintain contact by connecting with them on LinkedIn or e-mailing occasionally.

NETWORKING TIPS
At professional or social events:

  • Remember that it is about quality versus quantity. It is better to meet a couple of quality people versus meeting a large amount of people who do not meet your professional goals. The purpose of networking is to make connections not collections.
  • If you are a shy person, find an extrovert in the room. Usually, they will introduce themselves first and help introduce you to others.
  • Exchange business or personal cards with people you meet. Note something they said on the back of their cards, so you remember whose card belongs to whom. It will make it easier for you to keep track and to have something to say when you contact them in the future.
  • Limit your drinking if alcohol is present. Keep in mind that people have extended networks, so they may be able to pass your business card along. You want to make a positive impression.
  • Consider yourself a referral resource and assist others to make connections with other contacts. You will build a larger network as you assist others while others assist you.

On social media websites:

  • Create a LinkedIn profile and keep it updated. See our LinkedIn section for more information.
  • Make sure your presence on other sites is professional.
  • Never leave comments that may be viewed offensive.
  • Stay in contact with old colleagues and maintain ties with people at all levels.
  • Consider connecting with alumni on the University of Illinois Alumni Association Online Directory (www.uiaaconnect.org ).


FINAL THOUGHTS ON NETWORKING

  • ANYONE/EVERYONE is a potential referral for career information or the perfect job.
  • Networking needs to be an ongoing component of your career development process.
  • Remember that a contact is not enough to get you a job, but it may help get an interview.

HOW TO PREPARE FOR INTERVIEWS
The key is preparation:

  • Reflect on your strengths and know the skills you have to offer, particularly those that will uniquely set you apart from the competition.
  • Research the organization. Use library reference databases (i.e. OneSource, Hoovers), company websites, and external review websites (such as Glassdoor.com) to determine growth areas, strengths, and other information. Review a recent annual report from the company.
  • Prepare a list of references. Keep them professional and linked to the experiences listed on your resume where possible.
  • Prepare a one-minute commercial of yourself-keep it to the career-related "highlights," using specific examples of success and phrases showing you know what they need. Remember to link it to the field/role as a clincher at the end. Practice, Practice, Practice!
  • Review commonly asked interview questions and answers. See documents on our site.
  • The less you carry the better. You may take a leather briefcase, but do not take a backpack/gym bag to the interview. Using a padfolio is a great, compact way of keeping your documents crisp.
  • Dress appropriately.

HOW TO ACT DURING INTERVIEWS

  • Use friendly, confident body language. Be aware of the non-verbal signals you are sending. Avoid fillers (i.e. "like" "um" "uh") and maintain good eye contact.
  • Be honest and sincere in your answers. Don't show off or exaggerate your skills.
  • Use concrete examples and share them in a clear, concise manner.
  • Keep your language positive. Don't say things like "I know it's bad that I ______, but..." or "This could be a weakness..." Rephrase it in a positive manner, even if you are being asked to talk about an area of weakness. Talk about yourself as continuously improving.
  • Remember to breathe! Calm your nerves by focusing on your breath and pausing your speech - it's better than rambling on.
  • Focus on what you can offer, not what you can gain from them. Don't ask "What can you do for me?" questions until hired.
  • Put yourself on their team - Relate your answers to the role and connect the relevance of what you are sharing to the position.
  • Be an active listener. Have a prioritized list of questions to ask.

HOW TO FOLLOW UP AFTER INTERVIEWS

  • Convey interest, even after the fact. End the interview by reiterating your interest in the job.
  • Show appreciation. Write a thank you letter the same day for each interviewer. Thank staff by name.
  • Follow-up by asking when might be a good time to reach the interviewer. Ask for business cards.
  • Reflect on your interview technique. Applaud yourself for what you answered well, and strategize for how you can improve answers for the future.

TYPES OF INTERVIEWS

  • Screening Interviews
    A screening interview is usually meant to weed out unqualified candidates. Providing facts about your skills is more important than establishing rapport. Provide only answers to questions you are asked. Volunteering additional information could work against you.
  • One-On-One Interview
    A one-on-one interview is designed to see how you would fit in the company, and if your skills and talents will meet their needs. The length of this interview varies and often starts with, "Tell me about yourself."
  • Committee Interview
    Committee interviews are a common practice. When you face several persons who all have a say in who is hired, direct your answer to the person who asks each question. Sometimes they will ask you to come up with a plan to address the important issues involved in a problem situation they present.
  • Group Interview
    A group interview is usually designed to uncover the leadership potential of prospective managers and employees. Top candidates for a job are interviewed informally together.
  • Lunch/Dinner Interview
    The same rules apply in lunch interviews as those held in an office. The setting may be more casual, but remember it is a business lunch and you are being watched very carefully. Follow the interviewer's lead in both selection of food and etiquette. Never order an alcoholic drink
  • Case Interview
    Case interviews are interviews that assess a candidate's analytical abilities while introducing them to the types of problems a company typically faces. These are common in consulting firms.
  • Stress Interview
    Stress interviews are usually a deliberate attempt to see how you handle yourself. The interviewer may keep you waiting or be argumentative to see how you handle yourself. Don't take it personally, be rushed into answering, or try to fill in periods of silence. Silences may be meant to unnerve you. If several minutes pass, ask if the interviewer needs any clarification.

WHAT TO WEAR TO AN INTERVIEW

Tips for Both Men and Women

  • Think Conservative: The best way to prepare for an interview is to think and plan out your strategy in a conservative fashion. Avoid loud colors and distracting patterns. It is ok to dress more conservative and formal for an interview than you know you would for a typical day at the office. There is no such thing as "overdressing" for an interview - unless you wear a ball gown or tuxedo of course!
  • Personal Appearance: You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Personal appearance is of prime importance in an interview and includes cleanliness, fresh breath, conservative haircut, clean and trimmed nails, and clean glasses.
  • Perfumes/Colognes: If used, a minimal amount should be applied. DO NOT overuse; perfumes and colognes can be overpowering to the interviewer.

What to Wear - Men

  • Your Suit: Invest in a solid/pinstripe business suit that is preferably navy or gray (but black is acceptable); single-breasted, two-piece variety. A suit made of 100% wool will wrinkle less and hold its shape. Be sure to have it tailored to your measurements. Do not look like a kid with oversized (or undersized) clothing. A white cotton shirt, with straight or button down collar, is fine with a simple design tie. If you wear an undershirt, be sure it is a plain white shirt.
  • Shoes should be polished: We recommend modified wing tips or lace-ups in black, cordovan or dark brown. Wear dark socks to match your suit. Make sure your socks are high enough so that no skin shows when you sit down.
  • Clean-shaven: Be sure to shave the same day you have your interview. If you normally wear a beard or mustache, then trim it accordingly. Also be sure to comb or style your hair appropriately.
  • Jewelry: We strongly recommend that men do not wear earrings to an interview. Avoid wearing an excessive number of rings and/or chains.

What to Wear - Women

  • Your Suit: Wear a conservative suit with a skirt no higher than one inch above the knee, otherwise skirts tend to get too short when you sit down. While pantsuits are almost universally acceptable, some conservative fields such as banking, investments and law may expect the more traditional skirt suit.
  • Keep it simple. Don't wear too much makeup, too much jewelry or heels that are too high. Be mindful of nail polish - if worn, should be neutral and non-distracting in color.

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