7 tips for acing the second interview

hire me It’s a big relief when that job interview is over. But if you did well during the interview, the relief doesn’t last long. Because soon you’ll be contacted to schedule a second job interview. Even though this is a good thing, the nerves start all over again.  Follow these seven tips to help you ace the second interview and inch one step closer to a job offer.

Find out the agenda ahead of time. The one thing that all second interviews have in common is that they’re so different from each other. Some companies conduct panel interviews. Other companies have you meet with multiple people individually. Sometimes the interviews last all day while others take an hour or two. When the person contacts you to schedule an interview, it’s appropriate to ask about the itinerary – who you’ll be meeting with, the interview format and the length of the time you’re expected to be there.

Research. Learn everything about the company. Review what you already know and dig deeper to discover new information. Search the company’s name on Google, Twitter and Facebook to find out most recent news. Check out the company’s LinkedIn profile.

Review questions and answers. Even though you may be meeting with new people, you may be asked questions similar to your first interview. Review your answers but also be prepared for new detailed questions. Additionally, if meeting with multiple people individually, you may be asked the same questions throughout the second interview. Be patient and answer consistently. Remember the person asking you at that moment is hearing your answer for the first time.

Ask questions. The second interview is your opportunity to further clarify the position and what role you would be playing. Target your questions to your interviewers: Potential coworkers can’t answer the same questions as a supervisor.

Dress professionally. Unless you’re told ahead of time not to, plan to dress professionally for a second interview. If the interviewer mentions that professional dress is not required, plan to dress in business casual attire, which means no jeans, t-shirts or sneakers.

Don’t forget items you forgot the first time. If there was something important you failed to mention during the first interview, or a point you made that you want to reiterate, you may get a chance to do so in the second interview. Review your notes from the first interview and prepare an answer that clarifies the idea you wanted to share.

Send a thank you note. Within 24 to 48 hours send a thank you email to every person who interviews you. Include in the note specific items that you discussed with that particular person so that your email seems sincere and personable.


Job Interview Fashion Horror Stories

A surefire way to kill any hope of receiving a job offer is showing up to the interview looking bad. Sad but true – even the most prepared candidate doesn’t stand a chance if the first visual impression is a bad one.

In the spirit of Halloween, check out these main characters of job interview horror scenes- the interviewee’s wardrobe and overall presentation- that drew a scary reaction but no job offer.

Skirt too short, shirt too low and both too tight. Your outfit shouldn’t reveal too much when standing up, sitting down or bending over.

Unwelcome smells. This includes body odor, heavy perfumes and bad breath. Conquer all of them by showering and using deodorant before an interview, avoiding any perfumes and using mouthwash or a mint beforehand.

Loud jewelry. Avoid bracelets, earrings and necklaces that are noisy…to the eyes and ears.

Unkempt hair and nails. Your hair should be well groomed. Guys this includes facial hair (which you might want to consider shaving altogether). Fingernails should be neat and trimmed.

Food in your teeth. Double check in the mirror for any leftovers before entering the company’s building.

Inappropriate shoes. Platform shoes, flip flops and tennis shoes are very different from one another, but all could result in no job offer if worn to an interview.

Forgotten pants during a video interview. Television news anchors are known for wearing professional attire from the waist up while relaxing in jeans or pajama bottoms. If you do this during a video interview you run the risk of being exposed. Yes, this has happened.

Rival attire. There’s a time and place to support your alma mater or favorite professional sports team. During a job interview is neither. Your Florida Gators necktie may be your favorite, but the interviewer who went to Florida State may disagree on its value. Yes, this has also happened.

The flu. The only thing you should bring to an interview is yourself, your resume and your reference list. Leave the flu and any other ailments – along with their symptoms – behind. If you’re sick, contact the employer to reschedule the interview.  You won’t be penalized for doing so, you’ll be appreciated.

Visible underwear. Watch the bra straps (so that they don’t show), and the color of the undergarments (so that they don’t show either).

A coffee mug. It’s one thing when the interviewer offers you a cup of coffee (it’s probably still best to politely decline).  But showing up with your personalized travel mug that you continue to sip it during the interview isn’t wise.

Visible tattoos. Conservative is the best approach in a job interview which means covering up tattoos.

Distracting piercings. Remove piercings from everything other than ears (and keep earrings to a minimum).

Your parent. Mom or dad can give you a ride to the interview, but that’s it. Having them walk you to the interview or sit with you during the interview means you won’t get the job. Yes, this has happened.

Career Services has lots of resources to help you prepare for your job interview. Schedule a mock interview or check out our Pinterest boards and blog posts for tips on how to stand out in the interview without scaring your audience.

Start your holiday part-time job search now

There are approximately 60 days until Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving- which traditionally starts the holiday shopping season. But retailers are boosting their presence earlier each year, which means the time to begin searching for a seasonal job is now.

Almost all part-time seasonal jobs will be filled by November, so if you wait you’ll be left out of the hiring frenzy. Here’s a checklist to help start your seasonal job search.

Places to apply

Retail stores. Big box stores always look to increase their staff during the holiday season. It’s time to pay them a visit and look for “Now Hiring for the Holidays” signs.

“Mom and Pop” shops. Smaller stores tend to hire less but it can’t hurt to ask. Be sure to visit consignment stores, too.

Restaurants and catering business. More people eat out and organize parties during the holiday season. Check restaurants situated near shopping areas and businesses.

Floral shops. Even if you don’t have a knack for designing bouquets, there are sales and courier jobs available, too. Shipping facilities. FedEx and UPS always need more drivers and package sorters at this time of year.

Christmas tree lots and gift wrappers. These jobs are typically shorter in length (Thanksgiving to Christmas only).

What you’ll need when you apply

A resume or job application. Many employers will ask you to complete a job application either in person when you inquire or on their website. You might also be asked to submit a resume. Career Services can help you with both documents. Schedule an appointment today!

Solid interviewing skills. An interview will be part of the hiring process. You’ll need to show the employer that you’re the right person for the job. Whether this is your first job interview or you’re an interviewing pro, reviewing the list of commonly asked interview questions will help you prepare. Meet with a career counselor to discuss any interview concerns you have.

List of references. Whether on the job application or a stand-alone document, employers will ask for a list of references or people who can talk about your qualifications. Gather the names and contact information now so you’ll have them readily available.

Your schedule. Employers may likely ask your availability (when you can start working, how many days/ and hours per week you can work). Be prepared to provide this to them.

Remember, solid seasonal employees are often kept on staff after the holiday season is over. If you’re a hard worker you may be asked to continue working well into the new year.



Explaining “I was fired” in your next job interview

Getting fired from a job feels like the end of the world. But you’re not the first person to ever be fired and you certainly won’t be the last. Life – and your job search – goes on. When it’s time to apply for other jobs, you’ll need to explain what led to your termination. Keep the following tips in mind when the interviewer asks “so why were you let go from your previous company?”

Take time before job searching to process what happened. Receiving a pink slip is an awful feeling. You’re going to be bitter, sad and angry – three emotions you don’t want to bring to the job interview. Take some time to sort through your feelings and put things in perspective. This was a learning experience. Once you get a handle on your emotions you can begin to articulate that.

Know that you’ll have to talk about being fired in future job interviews. A reference may share what happened or you might make the mistake of talking about it in office conversation once you’re hired. So be prepared during the interview to summarize events that led to being fired. An employer will sense if you aren’t telling the entire story and will keep probing with questions or dismiss your application entirely.

Be honest. The truth will come out sooner or later and it’s best that it comes from you. Don’t add half-truths or leave out information in efforts to make yourself look better. Honesty is always the best policy. This job interview is an opportunity to start fresh. Don’t blow it by lying.

Stick with facts. Tell the story in a straightforward, concise way. Avoid sharing your emotions or perceptions about what happened.

Take ownership for your role in the firing. There are two sides to every story. Presenting yourself as the victim won’t gain sympathy or get you a job offer. How did your actions play a role in what happened? What could you have done differently? After having time to reflect on the situation what have you learned?

Talk about how things will be different. You’re a different person after being fired. You’ll be a different employee. Share with the interviewer how you’ll prevent this situation from happening again. Talk about what you learned about yourself (sharing your strengths and areas of improvement) during the ordeal.

Practice answering the question. Don’t try to wing it. You’ll become flustered and emotional. Rehearse what you plan to say so that you sound thoughtful, objective and confident.

Accomplish any of these career to-dos in 30 minutes or less

Summer is either very relaxing (light course load) or extremely busy (classes, increased work schedule, etc.). Whether your summer schedule allows time to unwind or barely any time to breathe, you can still accomplish career-related tasks. Check out this list of seven items, each of which you can achieve in 30 minutes or less.

1. Begin building a resume. Take 30 minutes to write down your employment history, education and accomplished skills. This information becomes the foundation for your resume that you can write in small chunks throughout the summer and have ready by fall. See the Career Services Career Guide for tips and samples. Email Career Services or schedule an appointment with a counselor to have your resume draft reviewed.

2. Complete your EmploymeNC profile, including uploading a resume. EmploymeNC is an online job searching and career information tool offered by Career Services to CPCC students and alumni. Search for full-time and part-time jobs, learn about upcoming career events and receive informative Career Services emails.

3. Watch a Career Services video. Whether you want to learn how to make career decisions, write a resume, interview for a job or use LinkedIn, Career Services offers short step-by-step videos to provide assistance.

4. Start completing your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is the social media resource for career and professional development. Watch the Career Services video about building your LinkedIn profile or attend a free LinkedIn webinar. Both provide great tips on what information to include in your profile and how to use LinkedIn effectively.

5. Visit Career Coach. If you’re still undecided regarding your academic or career interests, Career Coach is a great online tool for you to use. In just 30 minutes you can learn about job opportunities related to CPCC programs. All of the information is localized, which means the job statistics are regionally based.

6. Write and practice your elevator speech. If people ask you what your skills are, can you tell them? If you know your job interests, would you be able to talk about them in 30 seconds or less? An elevator speech is the tool to help you clearly and concisely discuss your qualifications as they relate to your career goals.

7. Learn about jobs related to your academic program. If you want to learn about jobs related to your A.A.S. degree, check out Career Coach (mentioned above). Students earning an AA or AS degree with plans to transfer to a four-year college or university to discover bachelor’s degree career options here.

Do you have time to spare and questions to ask? CPCC Career Services is open throughout the summer months. Now is a great time to meet with a career counselor to get your career and job search questions answered.

How do you answer “Tell me about yourself?”

It’s often the trickiest question you’ll hear during a job interview. It’s always asked at the very beginning and sets the tone for the rest of the meeting.

“So let’s start by you telling us a little bit about yourself?”

Answering this question is your “Shark Tank” moment. Your pitch to the recruiter could set the path for whether you’ll sink or swim during the interview.

Leave out long answers and personal info

  • Don’t tell them your name – they already know it.
  • Don’t volunteer your age, marital or family status, race or ethnicity – it’s illegal for recruiters to ask this information since it has no bearing on your application.
  • Avoid mentioning personal interests and hobbies – neither are relevant to your ability to perform the job well.
  • Don’t repeat your resume.

Start with a hook

Starting the conversation is sometimes the hardest part and causes you to leap into unnecessary or inappropriate information. Consider one of the following hooks to get started:

  • “First I’d like to thank you for inviting me to speak with you today.”
  • “I’m someone who is very excited to talk to you about this opportunity.”
  • “I’m looking forward to talking to you about the job and learning more about your company.”
  • “I’m excited to tell you what I can bring to this position and your company.”

These opening statements, and others like them, grab the interviewer’s attention and ask them to listen to what you’re about to say. Additionally, you’ve set the scene for providing your skills and qualifications.

Once they’re hooked, give them the elevator speech

After beginning the answer with a hook, launch into your elevator speech, or a brief highlight reel of your skills and qualifications related to the job. When preparing for the interview, list five skills you want the recruiter to know about. Write out a brief, scripted speech that touches on these five skills, using your hook as the introductory sentence.

Practice, practice, practice

You shouldn’t wing it when it comes to interview questions, especially this one.  Practice your answer in front of the mirror and in front of others. Pair it with solid eye contact and a genuine smile.

Know when to stop

Interview silence is so awkward that it frequently causes candidates to keep talking unnecessarily. Don’t let the silence suck you in.  When you’ve said what you want to say, stop talking and wait for the interviewer to proceed.

Avoid these 13 job interview mistakes

The job interview is your chance to show an employer that what they liked on paper (your resume or job application) is the real deal; you are the best candidate for the job opening. Avoid these 13 interview mistakes and you’ll increase your chances of getting hired.

1. Showing up late. When job searching, there’s no such thing as “fashionably late.” Plan to arrive 15 minutes early.

2. Showing up early. Arriving earlier than 15 minutes is awkward for the employer.

3. Dressing inappropriately. The best interviewing skills won’t save you from a bad first impression. Unless you’re specifically told otherwise by the employer, plan to dress professionally. Pay attention to other aspects of your appearance such as hair and nails (groomed), makeup and jewelry (minimal) and tattoos or body piercings (covered and removed).

4. Demonstrating distracting nonverbal cues. Do you avoid eye contact, slouch in your seat or constantly move your hands or legs? These nonverbal habits turn employers off and can make or break the interview.

5. Not researching the company. If you can’t show you know about the company, the department or the job, the interview will be short and the job offer won’t follow.

6. Talking negatively about current or previous employers. No matter how nightmarish the boss was, trashing him only casts you in a bad light. Instead, provide positive answers that focus on the type of work environment you thrive in and what challenges and experiences you’re looking for.

7. Appearing bored. If you lack enthusiasm during the interview, the employer’s left wondering how excited you are about the job itself.

8. Appearing arrogant. There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Know where the line is so you don’t cross it. Learn to talk about your accomplishments without too much bragging and showmanship.

9. Not providing specific examples. Interviewers want to hear about previous experiences as testimony to your qualifications. Reviewing behavioral based interviewing techniques can help you provide specific answers.

10. Failing to ask any questions. The job interview is a two-way conversation. It’s expected that you’ll have well-thought out questions to ask the interviewer when it’s your turn.

11. Asking inappropriate questions. Avoid questions that indicate you’re only focused on what you can gain from this job or give the impression you’re not interested in the position.

12. Providing too much personal information. This often happens when an employer begins the interview by asking “tell me about yourself.” Keep the answer focused on your skills, qualifications and interests as they relate to the job. Developing an elevator speech can help you avoid providing unnecessary information.

13. Answering a call or text during an interview. Turn your phone off – which doesn’t mean putting it to vibrate mode. Believe it or not 49 percent of surveyed employers said job candidates do this – and don’t get a job offer as a result.

Remember the best way to prepare for an interview is to practice, practice and practice some more. Some ways to practice before the interview include:



6 Habits That Could Jeopardize Job Offers

How you say something is just as important as what you say.

Having solid answers to the interview questions is important. But how you act while talking with the recruiter affects your chances, too.

The suggestions listed are helpful guidelines when preparing for job interviews in the U.S.  Culture plays a big role in nonverbal communication. Different cultures share different views of the same action. For example maintaining eye contact is valued in some cultures but considered disrespectful in others. These differences make the job interview process challenging.

Check this list of what are considered unappealing nonverbal interview cues. Are you guilty of any? If so, follow the action items to improve what you’re silently communicating and improve your chances of landing a job offer.

Awkward handshake. A soft, limp handshake suggests lack of confidence. A crippling, knuckle-breaking handshake might imply arrogance. Handshakes lasting too long are inappropriate.

Action step: Practice shaking hands until you establish a firm, comfortable handshake. Always extend your right arm when accepting or seeking a handshake.

Bad eye contact. Find a balance between completely avoiding eye and staring intently to the point it’s uncomfortable.

Action step: Learn the difference between looking at someone and staring. There are many tricks that can improve your eye contact. For example, focus on a spot in between the person’s eyes, giving the impression that you’re looking directly at them.

No facial expressions. Employers are people, not robots. And they want to hire people, not robots. Showing no facial expression tells the employer you’re bored.

Action step: Think of the interview as a conversation between two people. It’s okay to smile, laugh and even make a funny (appropriate) comment now and then.

Poor posture. Slumping in your seat could mistakenly express boredom. Leaning forward across the desk is aggressive. Neutral posture is relaxed and confident.

Action step: Sit up in the chair, lean slightly forward.

Distracting gestures. These aren’t just limited to wild hand movements while talking. Tapping your foot, shaking your leg, clicking a pen, twirling your hair are also interfere with what you’re saying.

Action step: Identify any distracting gestures and look for ways to minimize them. Placing your hands on your lap, not crossing your legs and not carrying a pen are all helpful ideas.

Inappropriate interview attire. You must present yourself as a polished, well-groomed person to be taken seriously as a candidate.

Action step: Check out resources for learning about suitable interview attire.

The final action step for avoiding all of these behaviors is practice. Watch yourself in a mirror when answering questions. Schedule a mock interview with a career counselor. Ask the counselor for feedback about nonverbal cues you have specific concerns about.



8 signs you shouldn’t take this job

Saying no to a job offer is hard. If you just started your job search or have been looking for work for a while, saying no to a paycheck is tough. But sometimes it may be necessary.

If your personal circumstances permit you to do so, screen job opportunities carefully. Not for scams – although watch out for these, too – but for lemons. A legitimate job could be sour enough that you’ll be back to the job search within months or weeks of being hired.

Avoid the heartache by paying attention to these red flags when you apply for job openings:

Numerous job postings from one office. If you see multiple openings in one office, the good news is they may have an increased need for new workers. But be careful of high turnaround that could indicate a bad work environment.

Sketchy answer to “why is this position available?” This is a reasonable question that you should ask. You want to know if it’s a newly created position, did the predecessor leave or was she promoted? Or did something happen that no one really wants to discuss? Be wary of answers to the question that seem carefully crafted but don’t say a whole lot, or answers that contain more “ums” and pauses than concrete information.

Shady or vague job descriptions. A job description should tell the duties and responsibilities expected as well as list qualifications (skills, education, work background) sought. If a job opening lists little information or describes the position using language that leaves you suspicious, there might be a problem. It doesn’t mean you can’t take the interview, but it does mean you should ask many questions (and look for satisfactory answers).

Poor reviews. Websites like Glassdoor.com provide the opportunity for employees to post reviews. But it’s important to remember that online review sites are often used for negative reviewing. For every bad review, there may be 10 good ones that never get written. However, it’s helpful to research a company or department through LinkedIn and word-of-mouth. If friends wrinkle an eyebrow when you mention  interviewing at Company X, ask them what’s up.

Refusing to let you meet potential coworkers or tour the office. Was a future colleague on the interview panel? If not, were you given a tour of the office allowing you to meet future coworkers? Or were you whisked away to an office for the interview and only permitted to meet with HR representatives? You should pay close attention to an interviewer who seems unsettled by your request to see where you’d be working.

Tense or unhappy office vibe. If you are given the chance to tour the office, pay more attention to the ambiance than the office size or furniture. Do you see smiling employees? Are people engaged in conversation? Or is there a sense that people are angry, scared or bored?   

A quick interview. A brief interview could mean it was determined you don’t meet the qualifications or the interviewer isn’t interested in your specific qualifications and just wants to hire someone. Be on guard if there is no substance or “meat” to their questions or interest in your answers.

A job offer from an interview. It’s rare to receive a job offer at the end of an interview. Employers often review all applicant interviews before deciding, as well as check references before making job offers. It’s a big red flag if the employer’s final statement at the interview’s end is “You’re hired, when you can you start?”

There is the reality that even recruiters sometimes conduct bad interviews. Office tours may give off an unhappy vibe if employees are sick or just having a bad day. But when your gut is telling you something seems off, pay attention

10 scary job search mistakes you must avoid

It’s that scary time of year again, with Halloween on the horizon. This is the week when all things frightening get a pass – from costumes to tricks, it’s hip to scare and be scared.

But you never want to frighten away hiring managers. It might be a good time to double check that you aren’t doing anything scary to sabotage your job search.

Here are some sure-fire scary job search mistakes to avoid:

Not eliminating resume and cover letter typos. Don’t trust spellcheck! Have someone else read both documents. Review them yourself by reading them backwards. You’ll be more likely to catch spelling errors that way.

Not sending a thank you letter after an interview. If ghosts can contact people through séances, you can find time to write a short thank you note to an employer. It could make the difference between getting hired – or not.

Applying to every position available with a company. Even the most brilliant person isn’t qualified for every position. Doing so shows you lack direction in your job search.

Making online job boards your top job search resource. Job boards should only be a small part of your strategy. Networking through seminars and programs and conducting informational interviews should be a key component.

Not being worried about your social media profile.  Employers check Facebook and Instagram to view job candidates’ profiles and pictures. That profanity-laced status update you posted on Saturday night might cost you a job offer.

Not utilizing LinkedIn. A great percentage of recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates. Furthermore, employers check LinkedIn to view applicants’ profiles. If you don’t have a profile, or your profile is underutilized, you’ll be passed over.

Going to an interview without practicing your interviewing skills. Whether it’s at home in front of the mirror or during a mock interview, practice answering commonly asked interview questions before the actual interview.

Going to an interview without first researching the company. Familiarize yourself with the company, from its mission to its product. Check out the Facebook page and Twitter feed to learn the most recent happenings and reports.

Treating your job search like a fulltime job. People who are unemployed spend an average of 40 minutes per day job searching. It’s tough to do a fulltime job in 40 minutes. Approaching your job search like a fulltime job yields better results.

Stopping the job search after an interview. It’s not over until you walk through the company’s door for your first official day on the job. Even if the interview went well, don’t stop looking until you have a job offer in hand.