Are you looking for job interview tips that can help you land your first job in the pulp and paper industry?
Domtar talent acquisition partner Melanie Jenkins understands that professional job interviews can be intimidating, especially for students and recent college graduates. As part of our talent acquisition team, Jenkins represents our company at college recruiting fairs across the United States. She’s interviewed hundreds of students who are looking for their first full-time job, internship or co-op position, and she knows what it takes for a candidate to stand out.
“Many of the students we hire have no previous work experience in their field of study. But that’s not a problem. With the right preparation, anyone can ace an interview,” Jenkins says.
Jenkins says these five job interview tips can help you handle your next job interview with confidence, no matter your age or level of experience. She also answers the million-dollar question: What’s the salary?
Tip #1: Research the company ahead of time.
“Nothing says ‘unprepared’ like a job candidate who doesn’t know anything about the company he or she is applying to,” Jenkins says. Take time to learn about the company before you interview. Career fairs offer a perfect opportunity to learn about many companies in one day, and it’s a safe place to ask questions. “When you get to the interview, you want to demonstrate that you’ve done your homework. It shows you’re serious about the job,” she says.
Tip #2: Practice your interviewing skills.
Another of Jenkins’ job interview tips is to practice. Find out if your campus has resources to help you conduct a mock interview with someone who can provide honest feedback. If that’s not an option, try to practice answering questions out loud. Jenkins says she looks for candidates who can express their thoughts clearly and confidently, but not in an arrogant way. “And we really like to see people ask us a few questions of their own,” Jenkins adds. She advises candidates to prepare at least two questions in advance.
Tip #3: Dress in your best business attire.
Think office-appropriate, even if you’re applying to work at a manufacturing company. If you have one, Jenkins recommends a suit, or at least a suit jacket. Men should wear a tie. Jenkins says that making sure your outfit is clean and wrinkle-free is critical. “It may sound obvious,” she says, “but unfortunately, it’s not. Also, no sneakers, please.”
Tip #4: Bring a printed copy of your resume.
Even if you know the interviewers already have your resume, it’s helpful to bring a few printed copies. “It speaks volumes about someone if they go to the trouble to do this,” Jenkins says. “It shows that they’re prepared and that they think about the team.” To further demonstrate that you think like a professional, take notes during the interview. It’s a must-do business practice.
Tip #5: Send a thank-you note or email afterward.
So you’ve applied these job interview tips and had a great meeting. Now what? A thank-you note is always a thoughtful touch. “Sending a paper card in the mail will help you stand out, but an email is just fine,” Jenkins says. You can keep it simple by communicating with your main point of contact, even if multiple people were involved in the process. “The goal is to express appreciation for the interviewer’s time and to say you look forward to hearing from them. If you don’t hear any news after a few weeks, one short follow-up email is sufficient,” she says.
The Million-Dollar Question: What’s the Salary?
When it comes to discussing pay and benefits, Jenkins understands that candidates are eager to get to the bottom line. It’s okay to ask about the salary range; just don’t be overly focused on a number. As a student or new graduate, it’s more about gaining relevant work experience.
“Candidates who are early in their careers should look at the overall value the internship or job will bring them, whether it’s the opportunity to travel or to work on interesting projects,” she says.
Ultimately, how you approach the compensation conversation is a signal of your attitude, and it can influence the interviewer’s perception of you. Jenkins notes that it’s essential to be aware of how you present yourself.
“Employers want to hire people who are positive and easy to work with,” Jenkins says. “Definitely follow these job interview tips and prepare for the interview, but most of all, be sure to bring along your best self!”