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Going to a job interview? Learn how to market yourself

September 19, 2014
Karen Baker

Karen Baker

A human resources department knows what to look for in an employee.

So what better source is there than an HR representative to give tips on preparing for upcoming career fairs or interviews?

“It takes time out of your day, but you have to know how to present yourself,” said Karen Baker, associate vice president of administration and HR compliance for NIU’s Human Resource Services.

She met Thursday with students from the University Honors Program as part of a new program called “Hot Food/Hot Topics” to share her expertise on what employers want.

In a cover letter, make sure that the first sentence pulls the employer in and that every point about your experience and skill set follows, she said.

Besides having a resume, a cover letter and at least three references, she said, take advantage of interview opportunities to gain confidence, to know how to connect with employers and to effectively answer questions.

Baker stressed that job candidates need to practice responses to interview questions and presented three questions that are typically asked by interviewers, including herself:

  • What can you tell me about yourself?
  • Why are you interested in the position?
  • What qualifications or experience do you have that make you the ideal candidate?

Photo of newspaper employment adsTo be well-prepared, job seekers need to research an organization and have a confident and direct approach at the interview, she said. In addition, she looks for someone who has a firm handshake, is dressed professionally and demonstrates passion, respectfulness and engagement.

During an interview, she added, applicants “need to make me feel like I’m the one” they want as their boss.

A DeKalb native, Baker graduated from NIU with a bachelor’s degree in economics, a master’s degree in adult continuing education and a juris doctor. While working her way up, Baker said, she focused on being a valued employee and regularly learned something new because many skills are transferable to other jobs.

NIU’s fall career fairs begin Tuesday, Sept. 30, to offer students, alumni and community members the chance to meet and network with potential employers.

Fall 2014 features NIU’s annual Graduate & Professional School Fair, Internship Fair and Full-time Job Fair. For more tips and information, call (815) 753-1641 or email [email protected].