Graduated, Now What?

Excellent interview questions, in reverse. My personal favorite: “What problems would you like to solve?” This may open a discussion that allows you to sell yourself as the prospective employer’s solution.

Real Life of an MSW

It takes two or three hours to write a specific cover letter, customize the resume, and go through all the ridiculous, dehumanizing, online hoops to apply for even a low-paying, part-time job, yet a business can’t spend one minute to send even a simple reply? Many applicants are your customers, you know. Or now former customers. This is your community, we’re your neighbors and you are rude. RANT


What I hear often is “I did everything right: got good grades, participated in extracurricular activities, interned, reworked my resume over and over. Why can’t I get a job?” Oh, this reminds me of myself (read: The Entitled Intern – pages of a career journal for some insight and laughs). Though as a person who was once in these shoes, and now as an employer and a professor, I will say this is a common theme. Here are a few words of…

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Zany interview questions

If you are gearing up for your interview by rehearsing answers to traditional questions like “Why do you think you would be a good fit for this job?” and “Where do you want to be in five years?”, consider shifting your preparation strategy to include questions with a hidden purpose. According to an article published in Business Insider, recruiters may base their hiring decision on your response to questions like these:

  • On a scale of one to 10, how weird are you?
  • What was the last costume you wore?
  • If you were an animal, which animal would you be?
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • What would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?

Companies today want to ensure their new recruits fit the company culture. If that culture includes festive, goofy events, an important attribute will be someone who is productive but also likes to have fun in the workplace. Some organizations foster the work hard/play hard concept. To that end, recruiters would take the interview process in a new direction to glean from the candidate’s answers not only their qualifications but their personality traits.

The lesson here is to do your homework. Research your prospective employer and find out as much as you can about their office environment. If they adorn costumes on Halloween, put on skits and hold pie-eating contests, be prepared to share your lighter side. If the organization is high-energy and innovative, get ready to verbalize your out-of-the box mindset in imaginative ways.

Advice from the top

“The Job Description is Just the Start”, published in The New York Times, is an interview with Susan Story, the CEO of a utility company who generously offered advice on positioning for success. The executive offered many great insights to job seekers and new hires that lend itself to a post in this mentoring blog.

In response to a request for three decisive interview questions, Ms. Storry provided the following, and thinking about your responses would be a great exercise. Some variation of these questions may be asked since they probe motivation, initiative, collaboration and leadership skills.

“Tell me why you want to work here.”

“What two or three things do you think you can accomplish in the first year?”

“If you were in charge of a project with about 15 people none of whom report to you, how would you go about doing that?”

Ms. Story’s advice to college graduates: “Focus on doing the best job you can where you are…go in thinking this could be my last job, and I’m going to be the best I can at it.” In addition, she suggests exploring ways to add value to the organization that go beyond what is written in the job description. I agree – this is the way to learn, grow and demonstrate a vested interest in the company.