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What comes after the resume?

December 9th, 2010

You fine tuned your resume. You submitted it to your prospective employer(s). You wrote an amazing cover letter explaining why you are a great fit for the job. Now, you just got a callback; they want you to come in for an interview.

This is a joyous, yet fearsome time for the average job-seeker. It can be frightening to think about having to answer questions about your personality, strengths, weaknesses and abilities.

Although it may seem daunting, there is no need to be intimidated by the interview process. There are some things every candidate should know in order to be prepared for the actual interview.  In order to do this, it is important for job-seekers to educate themselves.

Many college students who are new to the interview process may not be aware of possible illegal questions.

For example, a potential employer is not allowed to require an applicant to state his or her age, date of birth, or year of graduation from high school or college.

However, if the minimum age requirement for the job is 18, it is legal for the employer to ask a more specific question such as, “Are you over the age of 18?”

Questions about religion may also come up in an interview. In this case, it is illegal for an employer to ask any questions regarding the applicant’s religious beliefs, customs or holidays. Although, when you are hired, an employer may lawfully inquire about religious accommodations for you.

If an employer asks you a question of this nature in an interview, being knowledgeable of the fact that it is illegal enables you to avoid feeling uncomfortable in an interview. It is perfectly acceptable for you to decide not to respond to this specific question. Instead, you may decide to respond with a question of your own.

For example, if asked about your religious beliefs, an appropriate response would be to inquire whether or not your religious beliefs have a direct bearing on the responsibilities of the job.

Another good thing to know about the interview process is how to dress appropriately. It is important to remember that employers are  looking to hire applicants who can dress professionally.

Men should wear a dark colored suit. The suit should be solid or have subtle pinstripes. Polished dress shoes should accompany the suit. Your belt, shoes, socks and pants should all match. When it comes to jewelry a wedding ring and watch are acceptable to wear. Lastly, any facial hair should be neatly groomed.

Appropriate interview attire for women includes a pantsuit or skirt suit with sheer nylons or pantyhose. A white, ivory or pastel blouse should also be worn. When it comes to jewelry and makeup, it is good to keep it modest – less is more.

The JCU Career Center offers mock interviews.  To schedule an appointment, call (216) 397-4237.