Trick for a More Confident Interview

Body language tells a story all its own. Most of us are familiar with the basic concepts. Whether it is turning away from someone slightly, lack of eye contact, or a particular standing pose, your body language can speak volumes about your emotions. Becoming aware of your body language can benefit you greatly in preparing for interviews and engaging in networking.

For an interview, preparation is key. But, as we have probably all experienced, even after extensive preparation, you may walk into an interview with anxiety. Cue a little trick, courtesy of society’s body language knowledge: watch your arms. Crossing your arms in conversation not only indicates that you are closed-off to the other person, but also conveys discomfort. Conversely, opening your arms will have the opposite effect. This shows that you are confident, both to others and to yourself as your body signals your brain of the change. Perhaps the most useful way you can use this knowledge is to keep your arms loose before the interview. Even putting your arms in the air in the bathroom stall (or inconspicuously inside your car) before the interview can give you some stress relief. Try it sometime, and see if it gives you a confidence boost.

For more about body language, check out this classic TED talk by Amy Cuddy.


LinkedIn as a Research Tool

Most of us know of LinkedIn as a business networking tool and social media site. It has become commonplace to professionals in many industries to post their profile. But LinkedIn is more than just another social media website; it could be one of your most valuable career path resources.

Even as a student, joining LinkedIn is a good start to getting into the professional world. If you already have a profile, you are one step ahead! If you do not, you can still get some great information from browsing on LinkedIn. For instance, conduct a Google search for a job title with “LinkedIn” added to the end of the search bar. Try a few similar phrases because the same job can vary in title across multiple companies.

If you are currently applying to jobs, LinkedIn is also a great research tool. Companies maintain information pages and post available jobs alongside company statistics. Simply visiting a prospective employer’s page can tell you the size of the company, their mission, and give you an idea of the company culture.

One of the most valuable ways to use LinkedIn is to browse profiles in your industry. Truthfully, looking through a stranger’s profile can feel creepy. However, it is well worth it because a person’s profile can list out their work and education history, which gives you an idea of how they fell into their current position. There is a wealth of information in profiles if you are wondering about credentials and work experience required for a path to your dream job.

This tactic is especially useful if you know what company you would like to work for. Searching a specific job title within the company will bring up several profiles, which will reveal several different paths to the job you are reaching for. For example, if you are hoping to get into the sought-after investment tract, you can see how people of different backgrounds found their way into the field. Sometimes the path is different than you would expect. You could gain a new perspective on how your own experiences and skill set fit into the picture.

Screenshot different job descriptions and work histories. Again, this can give you perspective and help you plan out your next move. Start a folder on your desktop specifically for your screenshots and job-hunting information. Taking a look at people’s work histories is also a good reminder that everyone starts somewhere.

If you do not already have a LinkedIn, consider getting one. At the very least, looking at other people’s LinkedIn profiles will help you see exactly how many professionals are on the site. You too can join and begin reaping the benefits.

Tip: Studying for Essay Exams

When you walk into a humanities course, such as English literature, you know: there will be essay questions on every. single. test. But! No need to fret. With these tactics, you can knock those pesky essays out of the park.

Read the text before class. Participating in those class discussions can help you form an opinion of the ideas in the text. Developing a perspective and position on a topic is half of formulating a good essay. It is all about making an effective argument, regardless of your view.

When preparing, focus on analyzing and interpreting the information as you read. Reflect and ask questions: What is the significance of the text? Pick out themes, metaphors, and know why the text was written. Compare to other readings in the course, as you will likely be asked to discuss multiple texts in your essay.

During class discussions, be sure to take notes. Many teachers base exam questions on the topics touched on during these discussions. You could separate out the question, professor’s comments, and student comments in your notes to help you better remember the course of the discussion as well.

Review after class and reflect on the reading and class discussion as a whole. Did your perspective change? Figuring out exactly what you think about issues in the text can make formulating arguments on the essay exam much easier. Another way to review is by annotating the text. Identify themes and symbolism as discussed in class, marking important passages as you go.

If you follow the main ideas in discussions, you may be able to anticipate possible essay topics. If you are fairly certain of a test topic, you could outline the question for practice. Truthfully, other than doing the reading, being involved in class is probably the best way to prepare yourself for any question. As you participate, you will be forming a position on the text, which, with a bit more planning, will ensure your success on the test.

Tip: Studying for Objective Tests

We all know that the term “multiple choice” can be a polarizing statement. On one hand, there is always a chance that you can get the question right by eliminating unlikely choices, whether you know the answer or not. The bad news? There is no partial credit. And sometimes, professors can be tricky with the questions they ask. To better prepare for potential deer-in-headlights moments, there are some study strategies you can use.

Read, take notes, and then re-read all material before the test. Make a study guide featuring a list of key points. Break down those key concepts by organizing this information around broad concepts.

Constantly review. The more you work with the material, the more likely it is that you can anticipate the questions and pick out what concepts will be tested more than others.

Self-testing is a great way to prepare for objective tests. If you have a study guide, homework, or past quizzes to look over, do it. Using problems in your textbook can be really valuable as well. Going through these problems will help you to identify what concepts you are struggling with, allowing you to then concentrate on areas of weakness. Troubleshoot those areas, work hard, think through the problems clearly on test day, and you should come out with a score you can be proud of!

Tip: Studying for Tests

Start early and do all the reading that will be tested. Complete the reading a few days before the test so that you can process the information. Take notes while you are reading at home. When test week comes, you can read through your personal notes and the notes from class.

Schedule some time each day over the week leading up to the test. Please do not try to do it all at once! Weekends are helpful for studying more than you may be able to during the week. However, don’t burn yourself out. You could get tired or discouraged instead of getting the most out of your study time.

As always, being successful means finding balance. You do not want your health or other factors outside of school to affect your educational performance. Stay healthy by eating regular meals, exercising, getting adequate sleep, and building supportive relationships.

Following a regular study routine and self-testing can prevent panic and unhealthy habits later. After self-testing, study the concepts you need the most help with again to make sure you understand the material before taking the test. There is nothing worse than walking into a test only to realize that you are unprepared.

Study groups formed with the right mix of people can be very beneficial. Breaking up the work and teaching others concepts may help you understand the material better. Engaging in discussion forces you to think about topics from different angles, which should give you a new perspective and better understanding. Even if you do not like the study group structure, you can simply study with one classmate. If you work well together, why not team up?

Another awesome trick:

If you are a commuter or an auditory learner, reading your notes and book chapters aloud, and recording your voice can be a great option. You can listen to the recordings on your daily drive or in down time between classes. Getting in that extra study time will be worth it! There is nothing worse than an hour of wasted time (daily!) because you are driving. This way you can make that lost time more productive.

People study best in different ways. Your job is to find how you best process and learn information. Once you find that perfect mix and balance, studying will no longer feel overwhelming. Your productivity and your test scores will be through the roof!

Jobs for Graduate Students

The truth hurts: if you are in graduate school, you are likely accruing debt by simply existing – while reading this or eating a grilled cheese sandwich over lunch. The image of the poor graduate student is no joke. It is reality. You got into graduate school and you have decided to put in the work for that graduate degree. But now, you realize that you need money. You also need some experience. And money. You need money. Time to get a(nother?) job!

If you can find (or make) time to put in some extra work hours, you can ease your money woes a bit. So, here are some ideas. Some jobs pay better than others, and you may find a better option based on personality and circumstances. Perhaps you would find it easier to work in an academic setting. If you would like to take a break from the intellectual rigor, there are some of those options, too.

1. Graduate assistantships

Check with your graduate school office for available graduate assistantships. Schools offer several types of assistantships, so you can choose which best aligns with your personality and career goals. Different types include teaching, research, and lab assistantships. Typically, assistantships have credit hour requirements and, if granted, limitations on how much you can take on with your assignment. Many colleges offer quarter-, half-, and full-time positions, with tuition waiver and stipends adjusted accordingly.

2.Become an on-campus tutor

Look for opportunities through the academic resource, business, and writing centers on campus. University student help centers hire graduate students to tutor undergraduates. Some colleges may only allow undergraduates to work with students in the required English Composition classes, while the graduate students assist more advanced classes. For example, creative writing graduate students could work in the writing center, editing student papers and giving feedback on writing style. Tutoring is a particularly valuable experience if you plan to go into academia; it can act as another way to show your involvement and hone your skills.

3. Tutoring and teaching graduate exams

Everyone takes graduate exams to get into graduate school. If you scored well, you could teach the exams for a decent wage. You could begin tutoring students one-on-one on your own by posting flyers and getting the word out. If you are dynamic, another option is to apply to teach classes with a test preparation company, such as Kaplan, Sylvan, Manhattan Prep, or Princeton Review. Companies have varying score requirements, so check around to see what is the best option for you. For example, Kaplan will take 90th percentile scores. Others, such as Manhattan Prep, accept only applicants who scored in the 99th percentile. Expect the companies that require higher scores to offer higher salaries as well. The ability to teach multiple tests will make you even more of an asset. If you have an interest or background in teaching, this could be a good opportunity for you to practice your skill.

4. Freelance and use your skills

If you decided to go to graduate school after a few years working in the “real world,” you likely have a skill that can earn you income. You also may have a connection to get you started. For example, writing skills can be used for freelance pieces or grants. Are you a coding expert? Are you great at creating websites or managing social media? There are options abound for you to apply your skills.

5. Become a brand ambassador

Many brands look for ambassadors to represent them on college campuses or at community events. You could also become a street promoter at special events if you have a friendly personality. Marketing experience can help get you the job.

6. Positions on campus

There are numerous opportunities to work in the many different departments at your university. In addition to working within your department of study, you could find a job with the alumni office, career center, or housing. The campus transportation service hires bus drivers; a lot of bus drivers are also students, so your work schedule will accommodate your school schedule.

7. Night-time gigs

Working at night can be difficult to balance with the demands of graduate school, but you can make some good money. For example, working at a nice hotel overnight at the front desk could be a great part-time job. Security guard is another option. Sometimes you can get an easy desk job and perhaps even study during your shift.

8. Use your talents

If you have any niche hobbies or talents, you could use them to make some extra cash. Ballroom dance instructors’ rates can vary, but you can often make $50 an hour per private lesson, minus the floor rent. That means you could have a $40 per hour job on your hands, plus you get to do something you love. If you are athletic, you could become a personal trainer or group fitness instructor. Not a bad way to make some cash, get some exercise in, and give you better life balance.

9. Look around town

Local opportunities, whether a small retail business or a restaurant, are also options for employment.

This list is a great place to start if you are a graduate student looking for a job. You can also check out this undergraduate list for some more ideas! When all else fails, look to the career center to help you find a job. Graduate students can often look on the “Careers” section on the main university site for the best opportunities. Pick a route and get looking!

Asking Good Questions During an Interview

Getting into the habit of formulating meaningful questions will benefit you throughout your career. The ability to ask good questions speaks to your problem solving and analysis skills. You can be sure that your interviewer will evaluate how you respond to information revealed during an interview. Employers will be looking, in particular, at how you handle the end of the interview, when you are given the opportunity to ask questions about the position and organization.

Whether you ask about company culture, specifics about the position, additional mobility options within the company, how the company handles certain policies, etc., it says a lot about you. Come prepared. The interviewer will form an opinion about your critical thinking and even your interest in the job by what you say during this time.

Before walking into an interview, be sure to outline anything you may not understand, whether that pertains to the position or the company. The interview is a wonderful tool to get a feel for the organization. Use this to your advantage! Asking open-ended questions will grant you more information than questions that warrant yes/no answers. Remember to stay calm and focus on one topic at a time; a good interviewer will appreciate that you want to learn during your time together. Making sure you understand the job and the day-to-day required duties can help you decide if this position would be the right fit. Asking the difficult questions now could save everyone time and stress later.

During the interview, if there is anything that you do not fully understand about the position or company, take a mental note. If there is a break in the conversation or if it is an appropriate time to ask, do so. Otherwise, save the question until the end of the interview.

Sometimes the interviewer may inadvertently answer questions that you planned to ask at the end of the interview while they are talking about the position or the company. It is okay to say that they did a great job of answering questions that you had about this topic and this topic, etc. However, you should ask at least two other questions to solidify your interest and ability to adapt under pressure. One of these questions should be, “What are the next steps in the application process?” By asking this question, you will come away with a clear understanding of how to proceed and what to expect after the interview is over. The other question should be something you come up with on your own. If you are struggling with what you else you could ask, take a look at a few suggestions below to get started:

How would you describe the company culture?

What are the expectations for this role?

What would a typical day look like in this position? What are the daily job duties?

What qualities are required to succeed in this position?

Depending on who your interviewer is: What do you like most about working for this company?

Keeping the examples above in mind, coming up with a question or two is quite doable. With a few good questions, any potential employer will be convinced that you are not only interested and informed, but also a good asymmetrical thinker.