Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Focus on Where You Fit—Amy Biedermann

In an exciting plot twist, I work at the Center for Public Service now!  We’re heavy into recruitment mode and have been reviewing applications and cover letters nonstop for the last several weeks.  Sitting in on interviews has been fun and although I have had my own fair share of them myself over the years, being on the other side of the table helps to put everything in perspective .  What follows is general job seeking advice that I’ve gleaned from both recent and past experiences.

During an interview, be honest when asked what your weaknesses are and always be prepared to answer this question because it usually comes up.  Saying something like “I just care too much” (even if it’s true) can sound trite and insincere.  Good answers are honest ones.  If whatever your particular shortcoming is happens to be a deal breaker for your potential employer, then it’s best to acknowledge the mismatch now.

Reign in the humble bragging.

Reign in the humble bragging.

Along those lines, it might seem like being open to doing anything is a good thing, but in some instances it doesn’t help an employer decide where you’ll fit best.  Saying you like everything and are willing to do anything doesn’t give a clear picture of who you are and it won’t help you stand out in a pool of applicants.  From personal experience, I know that if you do get hired and end up tasked with doing something you hate, you risk trapping yourself in a position that makes you unhappy and leaves you unfulfilled.

DO ask thoughtful questions at the end of the interview.  One that I particularly like is: “What qualities make someone successful at your organization?”  The answer can also help you decide if the position and organization are truly a good fit.  Be honest with yourself!  I hate sales (and am truly terrible at it) but it took three sales jobs to recognize that I couldn’t just will myself to have an aptitude that I don’t possess.  And that’s ok.  It would be obnoxious if I were good at everything.

This should be obvious, but don't be late for your interview!

This should be obvious, but don’t be late for your interview!

Also, here’s one of the most useful job interview (and life) tips I’ve ever gotten: if keeping constant eye contact feels awkward, you can usually look at someone directly between the eyes and they won’t be able to tell the difference.  Try it out on a friend! It works.  But be mindful of appearing too intense and looking like you are trying to steal your interviewer’s soul.  Everything in moderation.

Happy job hunting!

Amy Biedermann

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This entry was posted on May 16, 2014 by in VISTA Field Reports.

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