May 082011
Authors: Rachel Childs

Four years of school and thousands of dollars do not guarantee the 2011 graduate a job straight out of college. All of the education needs to be backed up with the ability to interview effectively or a new graduate could sink to the bottom of the resume pile.

The interview is a chance for students to show potential employers what they can offer to the company, not what the company can give to them, according to Lew Wymisner, assistant director of the Larimer County Workforce Center. Employers want employees who will benefit the company and not simply use the job to benefit their resume.

The Larimer County Workforce is a free agency that assists people with employment questions and placement. It offers workshops on how to best prepare for an interview either in its facility or online. These services are also offered on campus at the Career Center, located in the basement of the Lory Student Center.

Skills a graduating student acquires during school and on the job are known as hard skills, according to Wymisner, while filling out applications, cover letters, interviews and resumes are called soft skills.

“Just because you have the hard skills, you aren’t going to wow them if you don’t have the soft skills,” Wymisner said.

Another faux pas job seekers commit is giving too much information.

There are certain questions that employers cannot ask due to the Equal Opportunity Commission’s policies. These include marital status, race, religion and sex. Telling one’s whole life story is not recommended, and many interviewers will stop listening if they do.

“A lot of people think they’re talking their way into a job when they’re actually talking their way out of a job,” said Wymisner, who has 34 years of employment training experience.

What students should do is research. Aside from the Career Center, places such as the library offer books on proper interview etiquette with some of the most frequently asked questions.

In order to ensure students are prepared, experts recommend setting up a video camera and replaying a mock interview to work out the nervous ticks such as stuttering or finger-tapping on tables.

Doing research on the company is also crucial in order to best market oneself. Walking into the interview and asking the employers what the job is will ensure no callbacks.

The interview is also a chance to gauge if the job is the right fit. Hearing certain questions can deter the interviewee from accepting an offer.

“The interview is a game. Play the game, and you have a better chance of winning,” Wymisner said.

Staff writer Rachel Childs can be reached at

Interview tips
Things to do:

Research the company: Make sure you know what they do and what they are looking for. Schedule a day to go down and see everyone prior to the interview.

Videotape mock interviews: Try to eliminate stuttering, fidgeting and mumbling.

Read books and look online: There are several books and online worksheets that lay out typical questions asked by employers.
Things not to do:*

Say why the job is for you: Tell them why you are right for their company. They want someone who will benefit them.

Tell your life story: Hit key strengths and weaknesses. Do not go back before you even knew what a job was.

Blame the employer: If they do not offer you the job, reassess what you may have said or done, and take the proper steps to be more prepared for the next interview.

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