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Notes from “Interviews on the Horizon?”

Interviews on the Horizon? Learn how successful candidates prepare!

Presented at the 2010 OCPA Careers in Student Affairs Conference

by Dave Kokandy

Graduate Assistant, Career Development, and Resident Director
University of Mount Union
Graduate Student, Higher Education Administration and Student Personnel
Kent State University

Download the slides from the presentation here!

Download the handout from the presentation here!

Interview Rules
1. Be honest.
2. Be prepared!
3. Be your professional self.

Career Inventories and Assessments Mentioned

Self-Directed Search: The self-directed search is based on the theories of John Holland, which posits that people can be grouped into types based on vocational activities they prefer. Your career office probably offers a test based on Holland Codes. This can help you identify what work activities come naturally to you and which are harder. You might identify activities that do not match with your types as weaknesses. You can find more about the Self-Directed Search at its website,, but don’t pay the $4.95 to take it there. Your college probably has already picked up the tab if you take it through the office.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or Keirsey: These are both purely personality type tests. For more information about the Keirsey test, please see their website at You might find a free and amateur personality test based on Myers-Briggs types available online, but your college career office might have a professional version available.

16PF: Offered by IPAT, this is an expensive and invasive test that might offer great insight into your personality. It is based on sixteen personality factors, rather than the MBTI’s four. Your career office may or may not offer a test like this, but I really loved my detailed results. The answer to my personal weakness question came from this test.

DISC: There are several expensive DISC assessments available online, and your career office probably does not offer a DISC assessment. For more information, or to try to identify your types intuitively, I honestly think the best place I can send you is Wikipedia.

A Word about Resumes (In case I don’t get to this slide during the presentation)

  • Your resume MUST be typographically and grammatically perfect. – Just as interviewers expect that those they are interviewing are at their best, your resume is assumed to be the best work you can do. Go over it with a fine-toothed comb.
  • Should be a data sheet. No paragraphs. – This is mostly for ease of reading.
  • Clean, neat, and easy to read. – Don’t do anything too flashy, fancy, or outlandish with your resume. It should be a professional document.
  • Top 2/3 of the page should have the most important information and details. – If someone has a stack of resumes to get through, that person will generally only get through the top two-thirds. Top-load your best stuff (education, relevant experience).
  • Use your career office, and show your resume to people in the field.

Evaluating Resume Advice

It’s great that your family and friends want to critique your resume, but take the advice of others with a grain of salt. If someone suggests a change to your resume, it is not rude to ask, “Why?” Listen to their answer and ask yourself,

  1. How similar is this person’s experience to mine? (Different careers have different resume conventions. Government resumes are quite different from resumes for business or higher education. Also, resumes of experienced professionals are quite different from those of new graduates.)
  2. Does the reasoning make sense? (Or do they even have a reason beyond, “Because that’s how I always do it?”)

If you like it, take their advice. If not, thank them anyway.

More Resume Rules (from an introduction I give sophomores)

Content Quality

  • Proofread! Remember spell-check doesn’t catch everything.
  • Avoid writing in the first-person. No I, No my.
  • Put in effort: Do not abbreviate. Avoid acronyms. Spell out numbers under ten, don’t abbreviate states.
  • Don’t volunteer some personal information (family, SSN, religion, age, date of birth, weird personal hobbies, etc)
  • Be consistent with punctuation.
  • Avoid wordiness. Be clear and concise.
  • Unpaid experience is still experience!
  • Objective should be clear and well-defined or omitted.
  • Avoid confusion by giving one easy-to-find set of contact information at the top near your name.
  • This is not a life history. Omit irrelevant or old information. (At this point, high school information)


  • List items in reverse chronological order.
  • At this point in your life, if you are a traditional student, stick to one page.
  • Bullet points. No paragraphs.
  • Use a simple, readable font. Sans-serif fonts are best.
  • Do not use a Microsoft Office resume template. They are ubiquitous and difficult to modify.
  • Don’t mix fonts. Don’t go crazy with shading, graphics, or icons. (You may ignore this rule if applying for a job in design.)

Suggestions from, “What should I be reading?”

The Chronicle of Higher Education:
-An RSS feed of the Chronicle’s daily news items is available at
-For more information about RSS feeds, please visit Google Reader, which is also a great feed reader.

Komives, S.R., Woodard, D.B., & associates. (2003). Student services: A handbook for the profession (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Amey, M.J, & Reesor, L.M. (2009). Beginning your journey: A guide for new professionals in student affairs (3rd ed.). Washington, DC: NASPA.

Peters, R.L. (1997). Getting what you came for: The smart student’s guide to earning a master’s or Ph.D (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

You can find resources available through professional organizations. For instance, newsletters, listservs, and RSS feeds may be available for free from a professional organization in your target functional area. You can find of a list of professional associations in various functional associations at

Mentioned in “Institutional Research”

Common Data Set: If you search Google for “Common Data Set (the school you’re looking for),” you may find information that was reported to the common data set initiative project. I do not believe schools are required to post the common data set, but participating institutions do send it to someone.

College Portraits, the public face of the Voluntary System of Accountability, attempts to provide prospective students with easily comparable information about public colleges and universities.

U-CAN (Universities & Colleges Accountability Network) attempts the same transparency as the VSA, but for private colleges.

Google News can help you search for external news stories about colleges.

Ohio Link links to is a wonderful database of books and scholarly articles held by libraries throughout Ohio, including many journal articles online. Search for articles written by faculty at graduate programs that interest you.

Dressing for the Interview

There are lots of guides online for interview dress. Here is an article from Kent State on interview attire –

In general, keep it conservative and professional.


The official homepage of the GRE is at

The ETS website provides plenty of preparatory information for free in the test prep section. For additional free material, you can visit your academic services or career office.

Presentation Sources

If you are interested in finding out more about information presented, please take a look at some of these sources. I especially recommend taking a listen to Career Tools. They have some excellent information about a variety of important topics from group interviewing (virtually all interviewing in student affairs is group interviewing) to resumes, to meal interviews. Check it out! It’s always in my iTunes.

Auzenne, M., & Horztman, M. (2010). Career tools [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from

Hamilton, C., & Parker, C. (1997). Communicating for results: A guide for business & the professions (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Kapoor, J.R., Dlabay, L.R., & Hughes, R.J. (2007). Personal finance (8th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Peters, R.L. (1997). Getting what you came for: The smart student’s guide to earning a master’s or Ph.D (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Reardon, R.C., Lenz, J.G., Sampson, J.P., & Peterson, G.W. (2006). Career development and planning: A comprehensive approach (2nd ed.). Mason, OH: Thomson Custom Publishing.

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