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#1 PseudoSABR

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 08:28 AM

I have a interview for an Insurance company tomorrow, and I wonder if anyone has advice for me. I've been Academics for a decade, but I've decided to leave (for a variety of complex reasons). I've been applying to Law Schools, and in the meantime, I adjunct and wait tables. Last week a Human Resources VP sat at one of my tables and invited me to take a look at an opening for a Training Specialist. After a couple emails and a phone conversation (that I guess was really an interview), I'm going to their facilities tomorrow.

I've never been had an interview in a corporate culture, and I'm trying to solicit as much advice I can. What should I wear? What are some pitfalls?

#2 Fatt Crapps

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 10:07 AM

Sell out.

#3 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 10:14 AM

Eh, I work in a giant corporation but I'm a developer so my ability to help is limited. I'm expected to be some kind of vacant-eyed sloth who dresses like a cross between an avid gamer and a homeless person.

My advice for the interview is to interview THEM. Ask a lot of questions. Be confident in your questions but not forceful. Dress sharply, though don't overdo it. Maybe dress slacks, shirt, and a tie with no jacket. Hard to say as this depends a lot on the internal culture.

I've found that the more you engage the interviewers, the more friendly they become and the more interesting you seem as a candidate. It's a two-way street. While you shouldn't act aloof, you should act as if you have other options and want them to convince you that they're a good fit for you as a person.

#4 mike wants wins

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 10:38 AM

If you still have time.....I work at a GIANT corporation also.

1. Be yourself. Nothing is more important than understanding the cultural match.
2. Brock is right, ask a lot of quesitons. Know some things about the company and be specific.
3. Be curious.
4. Wear a suit. Better to overdress for an interview at a big company than under dress.
5. Know what you want, or at least think about it.
6. Relax. Not easy, but really, it won't kill you if you don't get the job.
Lighten up Francis....

#5 PseudoSABR

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 11:46 AM

Sell out.

The funny thing is that Academia asked me to sell out my principles more than any other job I've had. And I just couldn't do it, because well, my art (writing) was too important. It's a culture of crank-turning and nepotism.

It took me a long time to realize it, but we're all sellouts. There are few if any way to make money without compromising your principles and participating in an oppressive, inequitable economy.

My plan of course, is to gain experience, than work at a corporation that sells something I find ethically okay.

#6 PseudoSABR

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 11:47 AM

Thanks for the advice guys. Keep it coming if others have anything to offer.

#7 ashburyjohn

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 11:51 AM

1. Be yourself. Nothing is more important than understanding the cultural match.
2. Brock is right, ask a lot of quesitons. Know some things about the company and be specific.
3. Be curious.
4. Wear a suit. Better to overdress for an interview at a big company than under dress.
5. Know what you want, or at least think about it.
6. Relax. Not easy, but really, it won't kill you if you don't get the job.


I'm pretty much in agreement with all that's been said. Regarding the "ask questions" bit, I have always liked to approach the interview as essentially I'm already hired and this is my first day on the job and I'm getting oriented by my new boss and perhaps meeting some co-workers or higher-ups. The questions come naturally then, and the right combination of confidence and humility they'll want to see will be more natural.

Know as much about the company as you can, so that if it's Mutual of Omaha you aren't caught flat-footed saying "oh, what TV show?" :)

I agree about erring on the side of over-dressing by a little. You can always take a blazer off. You can't run out and put one on.

#8 TheLeviathan

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 11:59 AM

I give you credit for lasting as long as you did. Grad school was enough for me to see what academia really is to know I'd never be able to tolerate that nonsense. Education has offered me an amazing group of colleagues and the chance to be both irreverent and impactful.

I like the advice about personality. I think there has been a shift from looking at credentials to looking at the person in the last few years. Just be yourself and hope its a fit. Best of luck.

#9 ashburyjohn

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 12:03 PM

One other bit of advice: try to put yourself in your interviewer's shoes. What does he want? In the little bit of experience I've had interviewing candidates, I was highly influenced by someone who boiled it down to two things: "is he smart enough?" and "does he get things done?" You don't want to hire someone smart who never accomplishes things; you equally don't want to hire a go-getter who gets stupid things accomplished. :) Probably you'll have no trouble establishing that you're smart enough for what they want, indeed the risk is that you'll overdo it; but grab every opportunity they give you to show that you get things done.

#10 twinsnorth49

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 02:52 PM

Just be genuine and honest. As someone who hires dozens of people a year, it's easy to see when someone is just telling you what you want to hear instead of genuinely being themselves.

You're clearly a very intelligent person, that won't be an impediment to impressing them. They want to know who you are, what you're about, to try to determine something about your character. Levi is right, all things being relatively equal, it's about the right person, not necessarily the right credentials. If you give them an opportunity to learn something about you, it sets you apart.


Definitely be curious, they are going to want to know why you want to work for them and have it be for the right reasons. Having an answer for that requires knowing something about them. And yes, ask questions, people in charge love to talk about what they know.

Good luck.

#11 SpiritofVodkaDave

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 03:09 PM

Don't over think it, shoot from the hip. Always remember its THEM who needs YOU, never the other way around.
Be straight and to the point, don't B.S. em.
Be blunt if need be, if the person can appreciate that, then they will work great with you. Don't "mold" yourself to something you aren't during the interview.
Also if you can do a little research into the person who is interviewing you prior it always helps. i.e. if they have written some pieces, been interviewed for a trade mag etc feel free to bring it up, it shows that you actually took time to learn about them. Also if you find out they are a football/baseball/sports fan, seriously try to bring that up at some point and keep them talking about whatever non job/work related as much as possible. This will create an instant bond and someone your boss will enjoy working with.
"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take"- L. Harvey Oswald

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#12 SpiritofVodkaDave

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 03:25 PM

Also, 6 hours or so after the interview (that evening) be sure to send a letter briefly thanking them for the interview, after that brief intro (thank you) be sure to ask them several questions, this will ensure that they will most likely reach back out to you, and shows that you are intelligent and eager to work for them. If you don't hear back in 3-4 days, follow up to that e-mail. 99% of the time they will respond positively.
"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take"- L. Harvey Oswald

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#13 ChiTownTwinsFan

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Posted 17 February 2014 - 04:06 PM

Always have extra hard copies of your resume, references, whatever; and have them organized and ready to give out; ask if they need it.

Be yourself and be honest; you won't be happy if they hire you for someone you tried to be and aren't; be confident but don't oversell yourself; practice in a mirror answering the generic typical questions. Put yourself in the interviewer's seat ... what would you want to know/ask and be prepared to answer those questions ... again, in a mirror, out loud; or with a friend. My favorite questions to ask are why here, why THIS position, what do you hope to get out of it, and the situational type question ... give me an example of a stressful situation you experienced and how you handled it ... and the stressful situation being work-related and not personal.

Do your research! As much as you can ... about the company specifically and about the industry.
When life gives you lemons, suck on them and persevere.

#14 Riverbrian

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 07:02 AM

I echo the "ask questions of them" and I'd like to double its importance.

Being interviewed is stressful and by asking questions it eliminates your stress and takes the spotlight off you.

Interviewing someone new is also stressful for the interviewer... Asking questions of the interviewer brings them back into a comfort level of talking about something they know(the job) and away from talking about something they don't know(you).

And most importantly... Asking questions shows a level of engagement that all employers are looking for.

If you could show one attribute... Engagement is it.

One other thing... don't over reach. Don't pretend to know something you don't. You don't want to drop the football during an interview after claiming you knew how to run with it.

Be exactly yourself!
A Skeleton walks into a bar and says... "Give me a beer... And a mop".

#15 PseudoSABR

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 08:51 AM

Thanks everyone, off I go. I feel prepared and not nervous, but I didn't sleep well at all. Up at 5am, oi. So it goes.

#16 ashburyjohn

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 10:50 AM

but I didn't sleep well at all. Up at 5am, oi.


Unless your interview is at dinnertime, and/or you've had multiple nights of bad sleep, this could be a good sign. The normal amount of adrenaline is flowing and will get you through the event, and you'll be fine.

#17 edavis0308

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 11:57 AM

Dress sharp - a tuxedo is a must.

#18 ashburyjohn

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 12:10 PM

Dress sharp - a tuxedo is a must.


A monocle too, it goes without saying.

#19 edavis0308

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 12:27 PM

http://static2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20130114032656/theoffice/images/b/b1/Jim's_tuxedo.png

#20 ashburyjohn

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 12:30 PM

Was thinking more like this:
frankiewilliams.jpg

#21 Riverbrian

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 05:27 PM

Hope all goes well!!!
A Skeleton walks into a bar and says... "Give me a beer... And a mop".

#22 PseudoSABR

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 08:58 PM

Well, I think I killed it, thanks for all your help. So I'll share and maybe it will be helpful to someone else.

I came really prepared and organized, even though I was working with a short time frame. I wanted to show them I was serious. I bought a leather bound three ring binder, and some plastic sheets to hold the handouts without hole punching them, made four copies of everything (I was told there would only be two people here), and tabbed dividers to stay organized. I had handouts that evidenced my past experience (lesson plans, assignments, student evaluations etc.) that lent itself to the corporate world. I made mock documents anticipating the kind the materials they would need (in my case, on 'first class customer service' 'pitfalls of trainings' 'successful mentoring'). I also had my personal statement for law school, to show that I intended to leave academia, which also told my story and showed my ability to write in prose.

I was overdressed, but quickly asked to take my jacket off, and tried to set tempo; I volunteered handouts only as it seemed organic to our conversation. I basically led the conversation for the first 20 to 25 minutes. I was lucky both interviewers were very friendly. They asked the standard questions about pitfalls and stresses and mistakes. I had answers vaguely prepared, but I found myself moving in different directions.

One question I thought I killed was a cheesy, 'what superpower would i pick': I said this, "I don't want to sound glib, but I wouldn't want a superpower. Superheros are ostracized, cast off to bat caves and the north pole. I want to be part of community, I want to belong. I don't need any special feature to rise above the rest."

I had been collecting questions to ask them for over a week, but a few in particular they had never heard before and left them impressed. 1) What is the most prevalent factor in why people fail in your company? 2) What is one thing you could change about the culture of your company? 3) Tell me about an employee who has moved on from this company to greater horizons or about someone who worked themselves up from a low responsibility job?

It was about an hour and half affair, and they were both earnest, friendly people.

I still have some hurdles, and as I left, they gave me the standard "We're still reviewing other applicants, so we'll be in touch," but it felt like lip service. I hadn't actually filled out an application, so they told me that was the next step, which also includes a background and drug test waiver (ugh?).

Edited by PseudoSABR, 18 February 2014 - 09:08 PM.


#23 ashburyjohn

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 09:38 PM

If they come back with "we like you but you're overqualified", you'll know not to come to us for this brand of advice anymore. :) Crossing fingers for you.

#24 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 08:43 AM

One question I thought I killed was a cheesy, 'what superpower would i pick': I said this, "I don't want to sound glib, but I wouldn't want a superpower. Superheros are ostracized, cast off to bat caves and the north pole. I want to be part of community, I want to belong. I don't need any special feature to rise above the rest."


Ugh. Flight. You always choose flight.

Because it's badass.

Facepalm, Pseudo.

#25 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 08:45 AM

which also includes a background and drug test waiver (ugh?).


Ick. I'd pass a drug test but I might just walk away from an interview after that request. I hate the idea of workplace drug testing without cause.

#26 TheLeviathan

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 09:36 AM

Ugh. Flight. You always choose flight.

Because it's badass.

Facepalm, Pseudo.


Well, it could be worse. Had he been interviewed by an attractive woman and said X-ray vision, for example.

#27 SpiritofVodkaDave

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 09:57 AM

Ick. I'd pass a drug test but I might just walk away from an interview after that request. I hate the idea of workplace drug testing without cause.

Yeah, unless its transportation or you literally have someone's life in your hands, drug testing is a waste of time and just another example of big brother. As long as you show up to work on time, do your job and earn an honest living, why would it matter if you partook in a little harmless pot?
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#28 PseudoSABR

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 10:48 AM

I can fly in my dreams, guys. Sorry your bed life is so boring.

It's mutual insurance, so it's owned by the policy holders, which are also the employees, so the testing does make some sense.

#29 Longdistancetwins

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 11:24 AM

One question I thought I killed was a cheesy, 'what superpower would i pick': I said this, "I don't want to sound glib, but I wouldn't want a superpower. Superheros are ostracized, cast off to bat caves and the north pole. I want to be part of community, I want to belong. I don't need any special feature to rise above the rest."


I love that answer; it fits me. Maybe, with your permission I'd use it sometime (I hope never because I've been in this job forever and wouldn't even know how to interview for a new one).

#30 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 11:25 AM

Yeah, unless its transportation or you literally have someone's life in your hands, drug testing is a waste of time and just another example of big brother. As long as you show up to work on time, do your job and earn an honest living, why would it matter if you partook in a little harmless pot?


It's not even about the drugs to me, really. It's the principle of the matter.

My job is a job, nothing more. It is not my life and my employer has no right to pry into what I'm doing during my off-hours, provided I'm not keeping human heads in my freezer.