Preparing for Job Interviews and Salary Negotiations

While students usually look forward to the relief that graduation can bring, completing a degree program can also lead to a whole new set of challenges. After all, finishing school could open up opportunities for a promotion or even a brand-new career path. It’s not uncommon to feel a little anxiety, or even stress, if you’re preparing for interviews or salary negotiations.

Fortunately, there are resources out there to help, but how do you find them? The best place to start is the Grantham University Career Services team. From helping you define your career goals and identifying your strengths to networking, resume preparation and creating a professional social media presence, Career Services is eager to help every Grantham graduate find the job of their dreams.

Sticking the interview

Preparation

Interviewing may seem like a natural skill, one that you either have or you don’t. But that’s far from the truth. One of the most important steps to take when preparing for your interview is to actually practice!

Whether you’re rehearsing responses to classic interview questions, preparing the questions you want to ask your interviewer or just brushing up on your small-talk skills, it’s essential that you get comfortable talking about yourself, your skills and why you’re the perfect fit for the job. While you don’t want to sound like you’re reading straight from a script, the confidence you’ll gain from practicing your interview will shine through. Don’t “wing it.” Winging it can cause you to stumble.

“Practicing for interviews can make a daunting task turn into a great conversation about how a person’s skills can help an organization,” says Career Services Coordinator Doug Dimler.

It can also help to visualize what to expect and do before, during and after the interview. From rehearsing your responses and researching your future employer to choosing your outfit, preparing each step of the process will mean there are fewer details you’re thinking about leading up to the interview itself.

It’s also a good idea to map out your travel arrangements— maybe do a test run before the big day—so you don’t end up lost, stuck on the wrong train or looking for parking. Take a look at this handy step-by-step guide from Indeed.com. Use it to ensure you’re interview-ready before you leave the house.

On the day

Make sure you have copies of your resume with you. While most applications are submitted electronically these days, not all interviewers will have printed them out for the meeting. Or additional interviewers may join without having seen your application yet. Keep several extras with you just in case.

Once you’ve made it into the interview room, remember that you’re there to shine as a professional candidate. Try to keep your personal life out of it. The interview is an opportunity to see how well you’ll fit in, so don’t pretend like you don’t have a personality. But this isn’t the time to gush about your family or share all your favorite hobbies.

“Appeal to them on a business level and how your particular skills can help the organization above all others,” says Dimler. “Be personable, not personal.”

After the fact

Don’t forget to thank the interviewer (or interviewers) for their time. Make a point of getting each person’s first and last name, as well as their contact information, before you leave. It’s always a good idea to send an email later that day or the following day to let them know how much you appreciate their consideration. It’s also a good way to follow up on any outstanding questions and reaffirm your excitement about the opportunity.

A “thank you” note via snail mail is always a nice touch, especially if you know an immediate decision is unlikely. Send your handwritten note after the email. In both cases, make absolutely sure that your spelling is impeccable—particularly when it comes to your interviewer’s name. Keep these notes short and sincere.

Successful negotiation

During the interview process, don’t bring up your salary expectations. Unless an interviewer brings up salary, benefits or other compensation, steer clear of those issues until an offer is being made. And just because there’s mention of the benefits package, don’t jump into negotiating or asking questions about healthcare plans just yet.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thinking about salary before the interview. As Glassdoor’s salary negotiation guide says, “Negotiating a better salary is something that everyone should be focused on.”

Do plenty of research ahead of time to establish standard ranges for the position you’re applying for—and be sure to factor in your experience and education, the region you’re in, the company you’d be working for, and more. Give careful consideration to the value that you’ll provide the organization and how that should be best reflected in your compensation.

“If your experience is dated, then your worth might not be as much as you think,” says Dimler. “If your current or recent experience is what they require and more, your worth can be more than you think.”

Don’t undervalue your worth, but also be realistic about the position and the experience you’ll bring.

Getting started

Reach out to the Grantham University Career Services team for online resources like the Career Booster Webinar Series and personalized support for your job search. Whether you don’t yet have any professional experience, want to leverage your current experience to find a better job or you’re ready to take your career to the executive level, the Career Services crew has helped Grantham alumni just like you achieve their goals. They’ll help you get the most out of your career opportunities!

About The Author

Liz Istas has been Grantham’s communication manager for over seven years, and loves being part of the Grantham family of staff and students. Liz holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Kansas State University.