No Failure: Dr. Shamp’s Guide to Job Interviews

25 March 2014

Any student in the New Media Institute knows to always be on the lookout for a coveted “J-word” – a job! With the Career Center’s Summer Job and Internship fairs coming up, we know that many of our students have gotten down to business writing and rewriting their resumes, double-checking business cards, and testing out handshakes. In my case, I had something just as frightening in my path – an interview with my dream graduate school. Fortunately, I knew exactly who to go to for advice – the one and only, Dr. Scott Shamp!

I was lucky enough to sit down with Dr. Shamp and pick his brain on what he wants to hear from a job applicant – and what he really doesn’t want to hear. Whether you’re practicing at the Career Center, interviewing for your dream job, or anything in between, Dr. Shamp’s fantastic advice is bound to improve your tactics.

The First Things:
According to Dr. Shamp’s experience, the first thing you need to do when walking into your interview is shake hands, and set down your resume and business card, always dressed to impress.  And if you haven’t heard it before, always be aware of having open body language – no crossed arms, no touching your face, no fidgeting.

Be sure to get to your location at least 10 to 15 minutes early. “Being late is deadly,” Dr. Shamp said.

And if you’re too early? Read something! “Always carry something that you’ll be proud to read,” said Dr. Shamp. Whether it’s your favorite newspaper or a book on your interests, let your interviewer catch you reading something that will impress, because as Dr. Shamp says, “your interview starts the minute you walk through the door. Don’t check your phone in front of them and never bring an open computer.”

The Purpose of the Interview:
Much to my surprise, the purpose of a good interview isn’t just to ensure that the applicant is skilled, but rather to establish a connection between both parties. “You want to let people know that you’re easy to work with – that you’re the kind of person they want to work with. Always get to know your interviewer.”

“My future depends on the students I bring in,” said Dr. Shamp. He doesn’t just want students that will make him proud in class, but students that will improve the reputation of the department after they leave.

How Much to Say:
So how do you really start the interview?

“Pick the three things that you want [your interviewer] to remember about you – I like to have fun, I know my stuff, I get along with others. And you can always talk more about passion.” Those three things can carry your interview a long way.

“Some of the worst applicants feel like they have to jam in everything into the interview. That’s BAD. Don’t do that.”

But what if you want to talk about your great internship or your summer job? According to Dr. Shamp, as long as your experience is on your resume, don’t talk just about those things listed. “Talk about why that experience made you better – what it gave you to make you stand out.”

On manners, “Southernness has that advantage in manners and in being polite,” said Dr. Shamp. But he emphasized to always be on the top of your game with etiquette. “I don’t call someone by their first name until they’ve told me three times to do so!”

“Don’t talk too much,” he added. “If you’re using specific words just to be impressive, it’s going to backfire. Smile – just be engaged!”

Leave Them Wanting More:
“When you’re talking, you better make sure you’re talking about what you care about,” Dr. Shamp said. “If it’s what you care about, I’m interested. But don’t tell me what I should care about.

“Don’t start your conversation talking about what the interviewer does. Give them some positive surprises,” he said. “Always leave your interviewer wanting more. Don’t jam every little detail in and leave them with that positive connection.”

What Doesn’t Work:
“Humor never works,” Dr. Shamp said. “Don’t try to be funny, because 99% of the time, it won’t work.”

“Don’t talk about alcohol, and don’t drink there,” he added.

My favorite tip, though, was to never act like Dr. Shamp’s least favorite type of applicant: “people who don’t listen.”

“Listen well. Pay attention. You want them to see that you’ll help their department.”

No Failure:
Dr. Shamp’s advice comes with years of experience and wisdom, so read carefully, pay attention, and always remember, “the interview isn’t a success if you get the job. The interview is a success if you got your three main points across.”

“Even if you don’t get [the job], you’ll leave with a new connection that can tell others about you.” That’s where you find the success.