Q&A Career Discussion with Northeastern University

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of participating in a career discussion at Northeastern University’s Senior Career Conference. As an “Employer in Residence” I met with students one-on-one to help them prepare for their next steps. This included resume reviews, and discussing everything from how to dress to how to tactfully ask certain questions about the role and company.

Northeastern students, I was pleased and impressed with our conversations - you ask really smart questions! Below I highlight a handful of the discussions we had. Join the discussion by leaving a comment below.

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How do I make my resume stand out?

Regardless of role and industry, your resume should always be concise, free of spelling errors, and highlight your contributions in previous roles. Anytime you can quantify the value that your contributions added to the company, do it!

For example, instead of writing "reviewed and compiled data on recent product launch" include who the data was for and what it contributed to:

"reviewed and compiled product launch data for VP Marketing's quarterly report to the board".

If you're interested in a few different types of roles, don't fire off the same resume. To keep your resume as concise as possible, tailor it to the role. Make sure the experience you include is relevant and highlights skills that are necessary for the specific role.

How do I gauge how I'm doing when on a phone interview?

I agree that it's much harder to judge the interviewer's reaction to you when you can't see them. Instead of worrying about how you're doing during the interview, make sure you're as prepared as possible for the conversation so that no matter what happens, you know you did your best.

You can only control yourself, so be aware of your tone and energy while you're on the phone. Are you projecting enthusiasm and interest? One trick that I learned from working in customer support is to smile when you answer the phone and introduce yourself - smiling changes your tone and the interviewer will be able to hear that you're excited to be talking to him or her.

How do I make sure I respond "correctly" to behavioral questions?

Behavioral questions help the interviewer determine how well you fit in the role and culture. As a candidate, you should also be assessing whether the company is a good fit for you. Don't think too hard about behavioral questions; if by being yourself you don't "fit" the company, do you really want to work there in the first place?

The best way to respond to behavioral questions is thoughtfully and truthfully - be you.

How can I feel more comfortable when interviewing?

Preparation  - both mental and content - is key. Here's a previous post that calls out 5 tips for a successful interview.  It contains some great information that adds value to our career discussion, so I highly suggest you check it out.  

Content:  Do as much research on the company and position as you can. If you know someone who works there or who worked in a similar role, talk to them to understand what skills are valued. Then map the experience on your resume to those skills and prepare talking points that prove how you've demonstrated those skills in past roles. In addition, always prepare 3-5 questions for the interviewers. Questions show that you've done your research and are seriously interested in the company /position.

Mental: Just like an athlete before a big game or performer before taking the stage, you have to get "in the zone" before an interview. Power posing, visualization, and affirmations are three ingredients for being able to make a strong first impression. Add dressing like a professional and you'll feel like your best-self walking into that conference room. For more information these mental preparation techniques, click here.

If you remember nothing else, remember this quote from Dan Stanford:

Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want

Even if you don't get offered the job, you gained experience.  Each time you go through the process you will feel more and more comfortable. It’s always a win-win!

How do I ask about work-life balance and expectations without seeming lazy?

(I had to take a few moments to ponder this question when it came up, so if you have any suggestions to add, please leave a comment!)

Most interview processes involve multiple phases; save this question for the round with your potential coworkers. It's reasonable to ask a coworker how they manage work-life balance in the role. That will give you a good idea of the expectations for the role. If meeting coworkers isn't part of the standard interview process, you should feel comfortable asking to meet or talk with someone in the current role.

Have a question about interviewing or leaving a solid first impression beyond this career discussion? Leave a comment or contact us here.


1 comment

  • What a fantastic article! I love the tip about smiling during a phone interview— I think that can make a real difference and warm up the exchange. I also really appreciate your comments about how to prepare for an interview, how the idea of “fit” goes both ways, and the importance of seeing every interview as a valuable experience regardless of the outcome. I find this article insightful, concise, and full of tips and ideas that students (or any job seeker) can put directly to use. I’ll share it with students. Thanks!

    Amanda Cornwall

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