Aumni Guest Post: Matt Harper ’11

This semester we kick off the Alumni Guest Post series with a story by Matt Harper ’11, who is living and working in Belize as part of the International Jesuit Volunteer Corps!

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Matt Harper '11 (second from left) at graduation

I have been in Belize City, Belize (in Central America) for about four months as part of the international branch of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.  I work in the youth facility of the Belize Central Prison. My job description says, “Teach literacy and math.” It should probably say, “Be present, teach if you can.” Each day is an adventure and I am constantly learning.

How did I end up here?

It wasn’t until my senior year began that I realized I had much to learn and to experience about the world.  I neglected some very significant opportunities made available to me while I was at Holy Cross; I think my ego kept me from committing myself to the greater service of Worcester. I fooled myself into thinking I had figured something out which thus no longer required me to have direct personal experience with other people’s struggles, poverty and pain.

This was the kindling for my decision to join the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Now, allow me to give a quick summary of the other factors that influenced my decision-making process:

I wanted to get involved with service work because I knew I needed to humble myself, needed to realize that I can’t always do or “fix” things.

I wanted to spend time abroad not because the US can’t provide what I’ve found in Belize but because I believed I would ultimately return home to address the many problems in our own country. I still believe I will return home in two years, but who knows where the whispers of God within me might call me.

I wanted something that focused on spirituality not because I’ve “figured” anything spiritual out, quite the contrary actually. We are spiritual beings and I wanted to finally take that part of me seriously.

I wanted something grounded in community because I often cannot see further than myself, and that hurts everyone. I believed there would be great value in the intentional challenge and support that real community could provide. (I was right!)

Finally, I wanted to improve my ability to see and work for justice in our world. I saw that justice is more about how a person views the world and the actions that come from this foundation more than it is about a person’s words – and I often have a lot of words! I knew I had to simply be with others and shut my yapper for a while.

Truth: I’m still working on all of this.

In addition to my work in the prison, I live in a community with six other people. We share our money, make decisions together, take responsibility for ourselves, each other and our house. We challenge and support each other (aiming to do so through love) in the hope that we can grow together as well as in our own specific ways.

In applying for IJVC, I wanted a challenge that would make it possible for me to positively “confront” all the many aspects of myself that I had previously neglected while simultaneously building relationships with those I am “serving.” Those two things are more interconnected than I could have imagined.

Leaving Holy Cross has made what it gave me all the more tangible.  I was supported and challenged by faculty, staff and students who constantly encouraged me to look a little deeper; I was given countless opportunities to take a stand for something;  I had unimaginable resources; I was asked to search for myself and to consider how I will serve the greater glory of God…the list goes on, and no words can capture fully what Holy Cross gifted to me. Each experience has been so important in getting me to this point as will each well into the future.

I have no doubt—and I feel peace knowing—that Holy Cross will be with me and I with it forever.

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Did this story resonate with you?

Learn more about the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.

Check out other volunteer opportunities with Career Planning.

Career Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

Happy 2012, Holy Cross!

Personally, I’ve always found New Years resolutions exciting: the potential of the best year yet, the hope of doing better.  That being said, I’m not the best at keeping them. But with graduation around the corner, I’ve been thinking a lot about my career and what I need to do to succeed in my first job.  In reading up on this topic, I’ve come across some easy-to-accomplish resolutions that would advance any student’s career.

"I resolved to advance my career!"

Raise your hands for success!

1. Explore. Check out available jobs on Crusader Connections; search through career exploration websites (like these); talk to alumni in a field that sounds cool; consult a trusted professor about potential career paths; Google “careers which involve [something that interest you]” … the possibilities are endless.

2. Find a mentor or two. The counselors in Career Planning are always available for consultation, but think about others too: professors, coaches, family members, a former manager at your summer internship…someone who you can bounce ideas off of and who can point you in the direction of resources.

3. Educate yourself. This is the big one. Yes, we’re in school. Yes, we have enough homework for the next four years. However, I can speak from experience when I say that while the education we receive at Holy Cross is invaluable, it is not enough. In both my internship in journalism in Washington, D.C. and in Human Resources this past summer I was at a disadvantage given my little knowledge of technology. Take 5 minutes a day to watch YouTube videos on programs/technologies you’re unfamiliar with. You should know how to do basic commands in Excel (beyond addition and subtraction); Mail Merge in Microsoft Word, and how to use PowerPoint before your first day on the job.

4. …and get more familiar with social media. Yes,  you’re addicted to Facebook.  No, that does not make you an expert on social media.  Are you familiar with RSS feeds? SEO? Do you know how to use Twitter? Are you on LinkedIn? (Psst look for a post soon on how to use LinkedIn better!) According to the Boston Globe, “Familiarity with social media is increasingly important as companies are turning to sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to conduct business, connect with customers, and screen job candidates.” Again, taking a bit of time to learn how these technologies are changing business will make you a more viable candidate.

5. Have fun! Take interesting classes; join organizations that matter to you; take part in an immersion program. Take note of what interests you and how you can incorporate it into your career. Pursuing your passions is a key to professional success!

Need help meeting any of these resolutions? Come into Career Planning to make 2012 a successful one!

Related articles:
“Increasingly, basic job skills aren’t so basic”  in The Boston Globe.
“Five Resolutions to Boost Your Career” on divine carol.


Alumni Guest Post: Gordon Wong ’11

This week hear from Gordon Wong ’11 who sends his greetings from the Windy City!

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Gordon Wong '11

Truthfully, I miss Holy Cross very much and there are many days where I find myself thinking back on probably the four best years of my life. However, there is one thing I do not miss about Holy Cross – the hills!  Chicago has absolutely no hills!  I’m not complaining.

I’m in Chicago this year because I’ve decided to dedicate my first year out of Holy Cross serving as a volunteer with Amate House.

Many people have asked me why I decided to dedicate a year of service.  I always knew that I was going to participate in a year of service, and more importantly in a faith-based service program.  Participating in this year of service was just one way for me to continue the mission of Holy Cross.

To apply my knowledge I wanted to serve and I wanted to serve in Chicago.  There is no city like it and I am just as much in love with Chicago as I was with Holy Cross when I first arrived there for a tour.  Chicago has become my new campus and I don’t want to waste a moment here.

Amate House is the young adult volunteer program for the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago.  It is similar to other post-graduate volunteer programs such as Jesuit Volunteer Corps, JVC-Northwest, and AmeriCorps.  For 28 years now, Amate House has provided opportunities for over 30 young adults to serve throughout Chicago, while living together in a community of peers, and participating in educational opportunities and faith formation.  These volunteers seek to form mutual relationships with our neighbors – to work with and for people in some of the city’s most under-resourced communities. (For more information I invite you to visit

I am a community organizer with Mercy Housing Lakefront’s Tenant Leadership department.  MHL is a nationwide housing organization and I work with supportive housing tenants.  My service is in the form of building relationships and a listening ear as they discuss issues in the community.  As an organizer my job is to empower the tenants in MHL, to take ownership of an issue, and to take action.

I wish I could tell you what our campaign is going to be about but I can’t—not yet.  Organizing takes time and the efforts of the tenants and me are just starting to surface.  It’s only a matter of a few weeks till we unveil our campaign.

I love my job.  It’s a humble position I have and it’s not a job where I can measure success quantitatively; the success comes in the forms of relationships and in seeing a tenant grow as their leader.

I’ll end my post with one of my favorite phrases from Fr. McFarland.  He says that Holy Cross is here to help students meet there “tremendous potential.”  Holy Cross started that for me.  I believe that the work I’m doing here in Chicago and with the tenants of MHL is to do what Fr. McFarland says.  I believe that the tenants I work with have tremendous potential to enact change in their communities and I’m just lucky enough to be able to be there with them.

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Did this story resonate with you?

Inspired to do service work after graduation? Check out opportunities inCareer Planning or with the Chaplains’ Office.

Road Trips to the Real World

This winter break, join the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers on “Road Trips to the Real World.”

The program provides “an opportunity for undergraduate students to learn first hand about a career field, network with employees and explore internship and job opportunities” from Williamsburg, VA all the way to Portland, ME.

All majors are welcome! Registration opens November 21, 2011 at 9:00 a.m and closes on December 2, 2011 at 4:00 p.m. Site visits take place in January 3-13, 2012. A full schedule and descriptions of site visits will be posted within the first two weeks of November.

The program boasts a diverse list of sites, including the Association of American Publishers, City Year, Deloittee, the Philadelphia Zoo.  According to the website, “at each site you will get an in depth look at how the business operates and see first hand the potential jobs that are out there. You will also network with employees and get a head start on your career choice. This is an opportunity you do not want to miss!”

Interested in learning more? Check out the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers website for more information.

Alumni Guest Post: Alana DiPesa ’09

This week hear from Alana DiPesa ’09 and her career development from JVC to graduate school!

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Alana DiPesa '09

I graduated from Holy Cross in 2009 and did what any graduate without definite post-graduate goals would do in an economic recession, volunteer!

I had always wanted to do a year of service after graduation but the lack of job prospects made it all the more appealing once my senior year rolled around. I applied to a couple of international programs and then on a whim applied to the national Jesuit Volunteer Corps. I felt like everyone who volunteered from Holy Cross did JVC, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to follow that path, but the recruiters talked a lot about the JVC community that I would be a part of long after my year of service was over and that appealed to me because it sounded a lot like the Holy Cross community that I had come to love.

I eventually chose JVC over the international programs and was placed at a Sanctuary for Families, a nonprofit working to combat domestic violence in Brooklyn, NY.  I loved the year I volunteered for Sanctuary as a paralegal in their immigration department; I became so passionate about the undocumented clients we served and felt as though I had found my life’s work.  When Spring engulfed New York I realized my time at Sanctuary would have to end; I was not only saddened to leave the job I had come to love, I was terrified about what I would do next and how it would ever compare.

The first thing I did to begin my job hunt was talk to all of my colleagues and supervisors with

With the JVC Community

whom I had built strong relationships.  I told them what kind of work I was interested in, gave them a copy of my resume, and asked that they send it along to any of their contacts who might be hiring.  I got a lot of positive responses and a couple of interviews from this alone.

In the meantime, though, I had also made my interest in staying at Sanctuary clear to my bosses and I wound up getting hired on as a Family Reunification Coordinator after my year of service was completed.  This new role was a promotion from the work I had been doing as a paralegal and a huge challenge as I began running the reunification program almost entirely on my own.  I was responsible for assisting the children of our clients who were still living abroad apply for visas, and upon approval, enter the U.S.

As Family Reunification Coordinator I was privy to some of the most intimate interactions that families had; I witnessed the joy upon initial reunification, the fear of inadequacy that mothers who had been without their children for as much as 10 years felt, the disappointment that these children experienced when they realized that their vision of America was a far cry from the life they would be living, and the inevitable arguments that ensued.  It was this exposure to family dynamics that convinced me of what I wanted to do next: I was going to follow in my mother’s footsteps and become a child and family therapist.

Hanging out with friends from JVC

I had come to love my work schedule so much that I was not thrilled about becoming a full-time student again, but I knew that it was the only way to get to where I wanted to be.  I started researching clinical Social Work programs and decided on the Smith School for Social Work because their program would allow me to work at an internship for the majority of the year and only be in classes during the summers.  I completed my first two semesters of classes this past summer and now I’m working at the Yale Child Study Center in New Haven, CT providing therapy to children and families affected by HIV/AIDS.

I’ve had a taste of everything since graduating from Holy Cross: volunteering, working full-time, and now being back in graduate school. I didn’t plan for my post-graduate years to work out this way, but I can’t imagine it haven’t gone any smoother.

I finally understand what the career counselors were trying to get through to me when I was an undergrad: networking is everything! If I hadn’t made the contacts that I did through my year of service as a Jesuit Volunteer I wouldn’t have landed a dream job afterward and I also wouldn’t have heard about the Smith Social Work program nor had people to write references for me.  Making connections and building rapport with new people that you meet is so much more important than I ever realized while I was at Holy Cross.

Now, although I’m still making new connections at the Yale Child Study Center, I’m also maintaining my former connections through email updates, coffee dates, and cards around the holidays; you never know when you might want to call up that person you met way back when and ask for a favor, so it’s worth it to make sure they remember you and keep them in your network!

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Did this story resonate with you?

Inspired to do service work after graduation? Check out opportunities in Career Planning or with the Chaplains’ Office.

Think you’re a good flirt?

In talking with friends about job/internship interviews, the number one thing people mention is the nerves.

It makes sense: you’re trying to remember everything you can about the company, to fit your best experiences into the interviewer’s questions and you’re sitting uncomfortably to disguise the stain on your shirt from the coffee you spilled in Cool Beans pre-interview.


It’s a lot to think about, but I think the trick to interviewing well is to take a step back and remember this secret:

If you can flirt, you can interview.






































Flirting is all about letting the other person know you’re interested, while appearing interesting yourself. You’re trying to persuade them that you would be a great match without jumping over the table and screaming “CHOOSE MEEEEEEEE!” (Note: desperation does not read well in either professional or social settings.)

Bottom line: you want to let the other party know that you think they got it goin’ on, while letting them know that you got it goin’ on too.

Interviewing is the same thing.

Obviously, your tone, language, content and attire should be different in both situations. Batting your eyelashes, talking about your favorite “That’s What She Said” joke and wearing your latest Forever 21 minidress may work on any given Thursday at Overtime Tap, but a professional  suit and knowledge of the industry are going to get you a lot further in the board room.

That being said, you do want to let your personality show through in an interview.  You don’t want to come off as buttoned up as your suit; you want to show that you’re a real,  interesting, likable person who is not only a great candidate, but would make a great coworker.  Most often recruiters want to hire people that they want to work with.

So how can you translate your flirting skills into interview ones? Some general pointers:

  1. Smile and look the interviewer in the eye. Simple. Effective.
  2. Take your time. If you need a minute to think about a question, simply say “That’s a good question. Let me think about it for a moment.” There’s no harm in pausing. It’s better to collect  your thoughts than to end up rambling for 10 minutes about something off topic. (Ever have this happen to you on a date? It’s uncomfortable.)
  3. Dress up. Again, you get ready for a night out; do same thing for an interview. Just make sure to leave anything you’d wear to the bars stays at home. Tips for guys and girls work-appropriate dress here.
  4. Humor (when appropriate) is good. You have to read the situation with this one; if your interviewer seems welcoming, adding a lighthearted story about your crazy commute at your previous internship (for example) adds another layer of depth to your application. People like people who make them laugh.
  5. Pretend you’re Kanye West. Fake confidence until you feel it. Tap into your inner Kanye for inspiration to be your most confident self. Note that there is a fine line between confident and cocky. Yes you are a great candidate; no you are not God’s gift to accounting/marketing/nonprofits. Remember, likability is important too!
  6. Ask questions. Everyone likes to talk about themselves.  Prepare some questions to ask ahead of time so you’re not at a loss for when the interviewer turns questioning over to you.
  7. Follow up. If you like someone, you’d text or call after to say you enjoyed talking with them, right? Same thing goes with interviews. Send a thank you note or email within 24 hours of the interview and mention something specific you talked about to personalize it further.

Follow these tips and gain confidence to nail that interview! Who knows, you may work up the courage to finally ask out the hottie in your Sociology class as well!

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Want to put these tips to work before the big interview? Schedule a mock interview with Career Planning.

Alumni Guest Post: Isabelle Jenkins ’10

This week we meet Isabelle Jenkins ’10 as she shares her experience as a community organizer in a Boston community!

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I did not have a job when I graduated from Holy Cross in May 2010. In fact, I barely had any job prospects.

Isabelle Jenkins '10

I went on a few interviews April of my senior year, but had not rigorously entered the career planning process. I was just too busy and frankly in denial that my time at Holy Cross was coming to an end.

However, looking back on this time now, it was perhaps one of the best decisions I ever made. I learned that if you have the leisure of waiting to search for a job, then take it. When else will you have a senior year in college? When else will you have a summer off? The jobs will come because Holy Cross has an amazing career network and is an amazing institution, so take the job hunting process at your own pace. Everyone approaches it differently and taking that pressure off of having a job the day after you graduate can actually make the process that much more enjoyable and will definitely make your senior year more enjoyable.

When I did graduate, I took a job as a nanny in my hometown and threw myself into the job-hunting process. Fortunately, for me, it came together rather quickly.

I knew that I wanted to go to graduate school and I also knew that volunteer work was something that I was always called to. So I applied to the Life Together program in Boston, MA, which is part of the Episcopal Service Corps, a program similar to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. I was accepted into the program and moved to Boston at the end of August 2010.

My year with the Life Together program changed my life. I lived in community with seven other interns and commuted out to Watertown, MA everyday to work as a community organizer. In Watertown, through an Episcopal church, I worked in the community itself. I talked with people from different organizations, from different churches, and from the local hangouts and listened to what the town needed and wanted.Through this listening process, I discovered an immense amount of energy around building a community garden. Watertown did not have one, but many of the surrounding towns did. So, I set out to help the community build one.

Together, with a team of Watertown residents, we teamed up with the Watertown Housing Authority, a low-income community, and built a garden on a vacant lot that they owned. The garden opened in June of 2011 and has 30 plots where the low-income residents of the housing authority and the neighbors of that community garden side by side. It was an amazing feat and will hopefully be the first of many community gardens in Watertown.

I say that this year changed my life because it was extremely challenging work. Being a community organizer, I had to put myself out there every day. I knew no one in town and I had no idea how to start a “social justice project,” as my program deemed my community-organizing task. I constantly was meeting new people and having to talk about why I was in the town. I also had to return home to seven people and be accountable to the community there.

Peppers at the community garden.

My job and my life became about relationships. This was what was so life-changing about the year. For so long, my goal has always been success, about the numbers and the letters, about what can be quantitatively measured. But what Holy Cross began to teach me and what my year with Life Together taught me is that it is the qualitative things that matter the most. Relationships should be and can be at the center.

Now, one and a half years out of Holy Cross and after my year with Life Together, I am a first year master of divinity student at Harvard Divinity School, still living in Boston. Additionally, I am working as a field education student in the Office of the College Chaplains at Holy Cross and the Alumni Coordinator for the Life Together program. Relationships continue to be what drives me, and I am so grateful that I am doing the type of work that continuously challenges me to keep these relationships at the center.

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Did this story resonate with you?

Inspired to do service work after graduation? Check out opportunities in Career Planning or with the Chaplains’ Office.

What Not to Wear to an Interview

What’s the best and worst thing to wear to an interview?

We can’t get Stacy and Clinton from TLC to show up with a $5,000 gift card, but we can provide you with some guidelines. When dressing for an interview, remember that you want to project the type of image you want: professional, put together, competent and smart.

Some major fashion faux pas to avoid:

1. Carrying a backpack instead of a briefcase or portfolio; girls, leave the slouchy satchels behind as well.

2. Ladies, your skirt should be long enough to sit comfortably without thigh showing. If unsure, use The Grandma in Church Test: if grams would give you a disapproving look for wearing it in church, don’t wear it.

3. A word on ties: gents, nothing says class like a good tie. That being said, nothing looks sillier than a bad tie. Keep it conservative in pattern and color and no less three and a quarter inches wide. Have a friend help you tie it if necessary.

4. Don’t blind your interviewer with color. In most industries it’s best to stick with navy, black or gray. If the dress is business casual, it’s fine to add some color (it also shows you have a personality!) but make sure it is in a conservative way. Some creative fields like advertising and fashion may be amenable to more color; check up on the office culture beforehand to get a feel for what would be appropriate.

5. This is not Overtime Tap. Heavy makeup, low tops, tight pants or skirts and super high heels are not okay.

6. No graphic t-shirts or highly visible brand names.  One caveat: if you’re applying to a company whose apparel you may be expected to wear.

6. About the bling: women shouldn’t wear more than one set of earrings and should keep it minimal. Pearl or diamond studs, or small dangling earrings are acceptable. Men should remove all jewelry except for wedding/class rings or metal watch. Everyone should remove facial piercings.

7. Cover up any visible tattoos.

8. Make sure your clothes fit properly. It’s distracting to both you and the interviewer if you are constantly fixing your top or pants. Remember: too tight = skanky; too loose = sloppy. Spend the extra time and money to get your professional wardrobe tailored and well fitted.

9. Nails should look clean and be trimmed to short length. No bright nail polishes.

10. Hair: make sure it’s neat and out of your face. Girls, simple styles are best (I think a low ponytail is underrated). Boys, make sure it’s clean and combed.

11. Fishnets, patterned hosiery or bare legs (no matter how tan you are). Women should stick with neutral color hosiery that complements their suit.

12. Men, wear socks which match your shoes and make sure they’re long enough; it looks silly if you can see a gap of flesh when you sit.

13. No stains or wrinkles! If you spill something on yourself in Coolbeans before the interview, try to conceal it the best you can; bringing along an extra cardigan or jacket may be helpful.

14. No dirty or scoffed shoes. No sneakers. No sandals. Toes are not professional. Girls, heels are great, but don’t wear higher than you can handle. Nobody wants to walk with the girl who has to waddle down the hall. It makes you look young.

15. Skip the strong aftershaves, perfumes or colognes: Many people are allergic to certain scents.

16. Match your shoes and belt. Simple leather is best.

17. Remember to cut off the zigzag thread that keeps pockets and slits closed in a new suit!

18. Plan ahead. Lay out your clothes. Call your mom.

Bottom line: look good so that your wardrobe is not a distraction. You want them to focus on your words, not your outfit.


Alumni Guest Post: Josh Jones ’11

This week meet Josh Jones ’11, who has transitioned from shooting hoops in Hart to saving lives at St. Vincent Hospital.

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Josh Jones '11

For the majority the past four years my days were happily spent going to class in Stein and Beavan, playing basketball in the Hart Center, meeting friends for dinner at Kimball and for coffee at Cool Beans, studying late Dinand, and of course those “social gatherings” on Caro Street.

Unfortunately, like they say, “all good things must come to an end”.  So, on May 27th 2011, life has I had known it for four years change tremendously.

Now, the time that I once spent shooting hoops at Hart is now spent working as a Pharmacy Technician at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Ma. I became certified as a pharmacy technician during the summer before my junior. As a part of HC’s Academic Internship Program, I was able to intern in the inpatient pharmacy at St. Vincent during the spring of my senior year. I was hired right before graduation have enjoyed working in the pharmacy ever since. I think that working in the pharmacy is a great experience that will prove to be valuable as apply to pharmacy schools.

The time that I previously spent eating with my friends and roommates in Kimball and Crossroads, I now spend grocery shopping and cooking meals for myself. After set the smoke alarm off countless, cooking is something that I am finally getting the hang of. I now appreciate all of the cooking and shopping that my mom did for me when I was at home.

My late nights of writing papers in the stacks of Dinand have now turned into late nights of applying to pharmacy schools in my Shrewsbury apartment. I have applying to schools as close to Holy Cross as MCPHS in Worcester, as far away as Sullivan University in Louisville, Ky.

Although my trips to Caro Street have come to an end, they have been replaced with trips to Boston and New York. Staying in the Worcester area has not only made the transition to life after Holy Cross easy but it has also made it easier to visit and stay in touch with friends who are also in the New England area.

While I miss being a student at Holy Cross, I am happy to be in my own place, working, and preparing for the next stage in my life. To those of you still on the hill; enjoy your time at HC and know that when we leave as graduates we are very well equipped to pave our own way in the world.

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Did this story resonate with you?

Looking for a job in the medical field? Check out Holy Cross Health Professions.

Turn interview “tricks” into “treats”

Trick or Treat! Take a break from gorging on candy to check out these tips from on answering tricky interview questions with sweet answers.

Don't be afraid of a tricky interview question!

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Some of the trickiest, most difficult questions can be turned into a “treat” – another way to market your skills and experience to a potential employer.

Trick: “Do you have any further questions?”

Treat: You might be tempted to say, “no!” Of course, you’re ready to get out of there! You’ve spent the last 20 minutes convincing your interviewer that you know the difference between SEO and SEM. You’ve watched their assistant interrupt them twice for a phone call and you’ve seen them check their Blackberry enough times to know that this interview is the last place they want to be. Your stomach is grumbling. Your parking meter will expire soon. However, don’t give up just yet!

This age-old question is the perfect opportunity for you to ask one or two more meaningful, insightful questions. Have you asked your interviewer about their experience with the company? How work is assigned? How your performance will be measured?

Remember: This question is often a last-chance opportunity for you to sell yourself to the company and to emphasize your enthusiasm about working there!

Trick: “What’s your biggest weakness?”

Treat: Your response to this question could be the difference between a cool summer, doing cool things, in a cool city or, a summer stocking shelves at your local grocery store. While you may be tempted to tell them about your addiction to reality shows and burritos, this is not that kind of confessional.

This question is code for “what’s something you’re not excellent at, but you’re working on?” Are you interviewing for an internship in web design? If so, tell them about the latest web design software that you’re trying to master.

Remember: Employers want to know that you’re a self-starter (yes, that word again!). Your response to this question is another opportunity to communicate your sincerity about a chosen profession.

Trick: “Why did you choose your major?”

Treat: This one might seem like a no-brainer, but surprisingly a lot of students aren’t prepared for this question. For students with majors like Computer Science, Engineering, or Finance the response may seem more obvious. You enjoy coding, you want to help build software, work in consulting or become an investment banker. If you majored in liberal arts, the answer may not seem so apparent.

If presented with this question, it is the perfect time to match your academic skills to the skills required of the position. Are you doing research for a thesis? Did you spend a semester analyzing Keats and Plato? Tell the employer how you chose a major that would help you become effective at analyzing, researching, writing, and editing.

Remember: Excellent research and writing skills are an important part of any job – and so is your ability to communicate effectively.

Trick: “The Brain Teaser”

Treat:Let’s face it – employers are developing all types of tricks to weed out potential internship applicants. The “brain teaser” is not a new interviewing technique and if presented with one – don’t worry! Employers use this question to evaluate your problem-solving abilities, as well as how you approach difficult, complex situations.

There is often no right or wrong answer to this question. What you should do is take a deep breath, focus and quickly examine the question or situation. After carefully considering the prompted question or situation, choose the best method to approaching this scenario. For instance, if they ask “how many golf balls could fill a school bus?” You might not know the exact amount, but perhaps you can guess the length of a school bus and the size of a golf ball to determine the possible number that could fit inside the bus.

What you shouldn’t do is give up or say, “I have no idea how to do this” or “this is too difficult.”

Reminder: Brain-teaser questions can be frustrating. If an interviewer presents you with one of these questions, it’s usually to test how well you work under pressure and how you approach difficult problems.

To sum it up, make sure you’re able to turn these common “Tricks” into “Treats” and nail your dream internship!

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Original article source.
Image source.

Did this article resonate with you?
Check out Career Planning’s online  interview guide!