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Employer Feedback to SI

After a busy term of recruitment at SI, SI Careers gathered a lot of great feedback from our recruiting partners. It seemed only right to share this information with the student population to help you in your future job searches. We wanted to make sure that everyone could benefit from this information that was shared, as the employers provided some very valuable tips on networking and interviewing that applies to all candidates, no matter the organization or function.

The following is a summary of the information collected:
• Dropping by to say hello at the job fair. Employers who interviewed after the Employment Information Fair on April 16 were surprised that the candidates that they had pre-selected to interview did not stop by their tables at the event to say introduce themselves. This small gesture demonstrates to employers a certain enthusiasm for the opportunities for which they are recruiting (and is also just good networking). Had there not been a similar environment (i.e., job fair), an introductory email would have accomplished the same outcome. This may seems like a small action, but it distinguishes people.

• expoSItion. Employers stated that this was an outstanding opportunity to meet with students who were potential employees or on their pre-selected interview lists and to have a discussion with them in the context of a project they had worked on. This was stated as a truly valuable to our employers. Some employers asked if a similar venue could be set up if their future visits do not coincide with the expoSITion, as they really enjoyed the extra exposure to the candidates and their work. It most likely would not be as formal or require such preparation, but the work/project related context was considered to be very helpful in giving students another way to demonstrate knowledge, skills, communication, and confidence.

• Interviews. Employers throughout the term interviewed many students from SI and found some that are a potential match for positions and subsequently, were asked to participate in second round interviews or were offered full-time or internship positions. Employers shared with us that some students were well prepared for their interview and very enthused about the opportunities that they were interviewing for. However, others, as well trained and skilled as they were for the potential position, showed a remarkable lack of enthusiasm and failed to demonstrate that they had done any thinking or preparation for our specific opportunities. Students should be prepared to articulate not just why they are great, but why they are great for . To an interviewer, this demonstrates that the candidate has done some thinking of the role and the specific company. Employers stated that they could understand why enthusiasm may be a hard commodity at any given time, as students are frequently in the middle of multiple interviews or students may feel overly-comfortable in a familiar environments, but as interviewers, they don’t appreciate or relate to this. There was much missed opportunity, and it was a shame that the employers were in a position to conclude (in several instances) ‘good candidate…but not enthusiastic about the position’.

• Candidates not differentiating themselves. Employers explained that this occurred in 2 ways:
1. Students over-emphasized their skills with regard to methodology/techniques. It’s very important for students to convey and demonstrate that they are well-trained and experienced in the core research techniques/tools. But students should keep in mind that this only meets our expectations. Employers that come to campus already have such respect for the SI program that they would expect all students to be well-trained (that's why they are here!). What students also need to convey is how they have applied the skills/techniques, how they used them to achieve some benefit, and their insights and lessons learned from their application to real-world problems.

2. Students over-emphasized group work. Working with teams is a critical part of ‘real-world skills’ and it is recognized that many classes emphasize group projects. But students should always be prepared to articulate what their individual contribution was to any project. The interviewers recognized the value of the group project, but they hire individuals. They can only make a positive hiring decision when they get a strong sense of who the individual is (their individual skills, strengths, expertise, passions, and insight/perspectives). (SI Careers Note: We strongly emphasize that demonstrated teamwork is important in interviewing, but that while discussing your group work, students should specifically talk about the role they played in the project (less "we" and more "me")."

Please don't hesitate to contact SI Careers to set up a time to further discuss your interviewing strategy, to go over potential questions, or to just practice your answers. It never ever hurts to have someone provide you with feedback on how you convey yourself!

Posted by kkowatch at April 17, 2007 11:15 AM


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