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Undergraduate Students - March 2008

The full version of the March CAPSScoop can be found by clicking here.


Articles in this edition

On the Other Side of the Handshake: Tips from an HR Recruiter

The Benefits of Getting Off the Sidelines


On the Other Side of the Handshake: Tips from an HR Recruiter

by Natalie Jewit, U3, BA Psychology

We are all too familiar with the pre-interview preparation dance. We’ve performed the final once over in the bathroom mirror and that last minute internal pep talk so frequently it has almost become habitual. However, most of us have no idea what it’s like to be on the other side of that firm handshake when an interview begins. We have no idea how it feels to be the powerful interviewer, rather than the anxious interviewee.

Looking at the situation from the perspective of the interviewer may just provide insight into what makes that flawless interview. My sister, Lauren Jewitt, has recently begun working as a Human Resource Administrator for Consumer Impact Marketing; Canada’s leading provider of third-party marketing and sales. She conducts approximately 20 - 30 interviews a week and with that kind of experience she has more than a few tips for me (a soon to be job-hungry graduate).

We’ve all heard the typical advice: arrive early, make eye-contact, etc. but over dinner the other night she mentioned a few suggestions I hadn’t thought of. Working in HR, interviewing potential candidates is constant. Thus, she emphasized that an interviewee should always value their interviewer’s time. Yes, answer questions thoroughly and provide concrete examples. However, make your point concisely. Don’t babble.

On the same note, having conducted interview after interview, HR recruiters are looking for someone to stand out. They have heard the stock answers time and time again, so it is vital to let your personality shine. Stylize your responses so they really are tailored to your unique qualities. Give them a reason to remember you out of all the other people they’ve seen that day.

One way to distinguish yourself from the crowd is to bring in physical proof of your accomplishments. Lauren had a candidate provide the magazine cover he had been featured on, showcasing his achievements in business. A personal portfolio like his, not only emphasized his capabilities, but also made him memorable.

Highlighting your qualifications is vital; however it is also important to be aware of your own limitations. Do not apply for a job you are not qualified for. It is frustrating for an interviewer to have a candidate come in for a bilingual position when they cannot speak a word of French. Be considerate.

On a final note, this may seem commonsensical, but always, always, always keep track of the jobs you’ve applied for. Lauren has contacted individuals over the phone to set up interviews, who couldn’t remember the particular job they had applied for, because they’d sent out so many resumes. A little organization is all that is needed to avoid embarrassment.

So, with Lauren’s experiences, I’ve learned that it may be worthwhile to add a little role-reversal exercise to the pre-interview preparation dance. Take a moment and think about things from the interviewer’s perspective. It could provide the necessary insight to perfect your interview style.

For Future Job Opportunities with Consumer Impact Marketing please visit: www.cimweb.com

The Benefits of Getting Off the Sidelines

by Christopher McEwan, U2, BA Economics

There are few places like university; there are few places where we can challenge ourselves and test our limits, all the while enjoying the collegiality of life on and around campus. This is a significant part of the reason why it is not hard to make the case that university is a great experience. That said, all great experiences come in different degrees. I would contend that most of us can think of something we could have done to improve even the best experiences of our lives. Sometimes this isn't easy to do, but, fortunately, it is in this respect that McGill, already such a good experience in itself, differs from most others.

At McGill, we students generally enjoy a large degree of liberty to choose what we do with ourselves. We study, we go out, and if we're smart, we get involved. Getting involved can make university a "greater" experience. It connects you not only with your fellow students and your faculty or department, but also with a whole array remarkable people - McGill is full of them! Similarly, getting involved with clubs and student organizations is a great way to find out what you are capable of outside of the classroom. And around here, it is easy to get involved with really worthwhile organizations! Let me tell you a bit my experiences here.

Personally, I've had the good fortune of being involved with three worthwhile groups. After not being too involved around campus for a year or so, I decided to get off of the sidelines. The first thing I did was sign up to be a first year mentor. Looking back, it is amazing how a little commitment can go to good use and help out students coming into McGill. All it took to help new students integrate into McGill was some advice and reassuring words. The next step I took was signing up for a CAPS volunteer position. This has been a thoroughly rewarding experience. I've met a lot of new people, and I've learned a lot of valuable things to help prepare me for "Life beyond the Gates," as the slogan goes. It even gave me the chance to get to know some of the pros in the CAPS office, which has really enriched my year. Finally, I started helping out in my department's student association. Because I made this choice, I've been able to meet a lot other students and help try to enrich their degrees while simultaneously improving my own. I was even able to combine my two small roles and help organize a career event, put on by CAPS for my fellow students.

The time put into each of these has definitely been worth it. I've honed my interpersonal skills and, of course, bolstered my CV. I've also been able to help some people out, and, I hope, improve the environment that I'm in everyday. And, to be fair, my commitment has not been an overwhelming one. The point is, then, that with a bit of effort, you can really improve your experience at McGill, prepare yourself for things to come, and help improve McGill! What's more, with a little bit of searching, you'll find a really impressive spectrum of groups to choose from - there will definitely be an organization that suits your interests and that is in need of your help. So, get off the sides lines. Get involved, it's not hard, and you will be glad you did!


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