Monday, January 26, 2009

Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For

Now that the inauguration week is over and it's down to business in Washington, DC the focus for many individuals is back on the economy, and the continued downturn that the country is facing. There's no denying that these are tough economic times - but even in the midst of so much dismal news, there is some good stuff out there. Case in point, Fortune Magazine recently released its list of the 100 top companies to work for. These are 100 companies that are weathering the economic storm, offering great benefits to their employees and growing (or at least holding steady) during these difficult times.

For students, especially those thinking about upcoming graduation and a full-time job search, the list is a great jumping off point when considering which organizations you might be interested in working at. BCG, Goldman Sachs and Google - all companies that come to campus to find interns and full-time staff - are in the top ten. But there are may also be companies on this list that you haven't considered before, and learning more about what got them into the top 100 could influence some of your plans for job applications down the road.

As CAPS staff member Michael Paone advised students this past fall, the key to a successful job search during this time is to think outside the box. And as Michael said, "Thinking outside the box this fall means working with CAPS to see which firms may be a good fit for you and identifying new companies for you to go after - even companies that were not previously on your radar screen."

Use this list of 100 companies to start identifying companies that weren't on your radar screen before. If you're not sure how to contact these companies, or you're not sure where to begin, call CAPS (773 - 702 - 7040) and schedule and appointment to talk about which organizations interest you and how you can reach them.

Questions or comments? Post them here. And if there are companies that aren't on this list - but that you'd really like to see recruiting on campus - post those suggestions here as well.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Questions to Never Ask in an Interview

2009 is underway, and along with the start of winter quarter, the inauguration of a new president and MORE snow, this time of year is also the time when many students are applying for summer internships - and applying for internships means preparing for interviews.

For students who have never interviewed for a position before (and for those who have) internship interviews can be stressful and at times overwhelming. However, CAPS has a wide range of resources to assist students as they prepare for their upcoming interviews, including our interview skills handout, our interview skills webcast and our practice interviewer staff members, who will take you through an interview and then give you feedback on your answers.

In addition to these resources (which are available throughout the year, for both internship AND full-time interviews), this week the CAPS blog takes a look at some of the questions you should never ask when once you make it into the interview room, courtesy of an article from Yahoo's Hot Jobs.

First off, you might be wondering why you would be asking questions in an interview to begin with. After all, isn't an interview a chance for your potential employer to ask you questions? While it's true that in most interviews the employer is doing most of the asking, it's also true that there will almost always be a moment during your interview when you will be asked "So, do you have any questions for me?". When this happens, it's important to have at least two or three questions prepared - these are questions that should demonstrate your knowledge of the organization your interviewing with and your interest in the position. Which is why you shouldn't ask questions like:

"What does your company do?" As Hot Jobs points out, "This was a reasonable interview question in 1950 or in 1980, before the Internet existed. Today, it's your job to research any company you're interviewing with before setting foot in the door. We need to show up for a job interview knowing what the employer does, who its competitors are, and which of its accomplishments (or challenges) have made the news lately."

Also on the list of inquiries to avoid: "When will I be eligible for a raise?" Negotiating a job offer is part of the job search process - but asking about salary during your first interview is generally not the best approach. Instead, as Hot Jobs points out, wait until your second interview, and then "you can ask (at a second interview) 'Does your organization do a conventional one-year performance and salary review?' "

Another tricky area to navigate in the job search process is the idea of upward mobility. Very few people want to take a job that provides zero room for growth or promotion - however, when and how you ask about this can make a big difference in your interview. For example, don't ask "How soon can I transfer to a new position" - as Hot Jobs says, "You're broadcasting 'I'm outta here at the first chance' when you ask this question. If you like the job, take the job. If it's not for you, wait for the right opportunity. Almost every employer will keep you in your seat for at least one year before approving an internal transfer, so a job-search bait-and-switch probably won't work out the way you'd hoped."

For more questions you don't want to ask in a first-round interview, visit this Hot Jobs article.

For more interviewing help from CAPS, call (773) 702 - 7040 to schedule an appointment with one of our practice interviewers or a CAPS staff member.

Questions, feedback or ideas regarding interviewing? Post them here.