Close the Deal: Practical Skills for Landing a Job
Updated: Apr 20, 2021
By: Maxmillian Robinson
“So, tell me a little bit about yourself.”
That was how the discussion began on the Zoom call March 15, as two people began to conduct an interview. The interviewer, Dorian Fuller, asked several questions of the interviewee, Michael Graziano. “Why do you want to work for us? What skills do you have? What are you looking for from us?”
Graziano answered: “Uhh, I don’t know what I applied for; I like to dance, do homework and eat lots of food; I’m looking forward to getting this job after we're done talking.”
Thankfully, this was a mock interview and the two guys are co-workers. It was an event presented by the Leadership Certificate program (which helps students with leadership and professional skills), the Center for Career and Professional Studies, the Center for Student Involvement, and the Robert B. Willumstad School of Business. The speakers were the managing director (Michael Graziano) and the head of diversity (Dorian Fuller) of BNP Paribas, a financial bank firm based in France. They spoke from 5 to 6 pm to Adelphi students about how to impress an employer during the interview process.
Tara Gerke, the moderator and a graduate student advisor at Adelphi, handled the questions, but let Graziano and Fuller take it away to express what key qualities are needed to lead a successful career. They had no trouble sharing their advice with the 20 students who attended the event who also got a chance to ask them questions.
Fuller highlighted all the things that his colleague Graziano did wrong in the mock interview—emphasizing you should avoid doing them at all costs. These included being disheveled--Graziano was wearing sweats--not asking questions about the company or even being unfamiliar with your own resume. This shows an employer that you don’t have what it takes to fill the role at their firm.
“Dress for success,” Fuller said. “Please don’t show up in a sweatshirt and sweatpants. We’ve seen it happen before and the interview went down from there.”
If you’re not sure what to wear for an interview, Graziano mentioned visiting the websites brooksbrothers.com and talbots.com. These sites offer quality casualwear for men and women looking to impress their employers' initial thoughts through their wardrobe.
“Even now, [virtually] companies are holding job interviews and right away employers judge you from the way you look in Zoom,” Graziano said. “If you have bad lighting, voices in the background, slouched posture, this can be a detriment for you.”
Fuller chimed in. “Zoom interviews are important from the time your camera turns on. But on top of that, one thing that many people don't shed light on is writing a thank you note once the meeting has commenced. Not only should you write one, but you should write detailed notes about how the interview went. That makes a huge difference when determining who to hire.”
Fuller also emphasized the importance of correct spelling. “Grammar is important. “Misspelling words on your resume or writing portfolios can show that you’re not a true professional.”
They added it’s important to know what to put on your resume. Not everything should, or will, be related to the occupation you’re going after, but focusing on the logistics will help.
“Honestly, I only read the first page,” Graziano said. “As an employer, right away I’m looking to know who you are, what you have done, and can you do the job asked. Two-to-three-page resumes are worthless.”
For Graziano, it’s the first document he sees before conducting an interview with a candidate. There are times he has “five minutes or less” to read what’s on paper, so it’s important to have what's necessary up front and center.
“All experience is good,” Graziano said. “I had a military job. I was loading powder cartons into a carriage. Then I was hired by Merrill Lynch. I wanted to be a stockbroker for them, but I ended up a secretary. Either way, it was good preparation for the job that I have today because it gave me the necessary skills to become better at my current position. Even a cafeteria job is good to put on there.”
Experience can come in many ways, including through languages.
“I also worked for a Chinese construction bank,” Graziano said. “It was the first office in the western hemisphere. They had to apply for licensing, hire managers [like myself], and bring in people from [China] and [Americans] who knew Chinese. I did not speak Mandarin and most of the others I worked with didn’t speak it, but I met someone who knew both languages. Businesses can look for people who know language skills.”
They explained that companies are very keen about having a first-class employee, someone who has a clean image with no legal issues. Oftentimes, human resources (HR) will look on an applicant’s social media page to see if they’re about the right things.
“LinkedIn is such an expanding tool,” Fuller said. “You look up companies of different interests and you can talk to people who are in a unique position to help you.”
LinkedIn is used as a marketing tool to help people find jobs of their interest in a professional manner. Other apps on the social platform, however, can be used against you.
“Facebook and Instagram are in a different category,” Graziano said. “HR will look into that and see what you’re really about. If you’re posting pictures at the beach, drinking with friends and using explicit languages, take that down immediately.”
Graziano mentioned that Glassdoor is another app that many use to search for jobs, eventually then moving those connections back to LinkedIn.
“Having a LinkedIn account alone won’t do much,” Fuller said. “You can put two to three words under your name. There's a tab on where you can show your skill, like financial analysis, that can really help you earn views on your page. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to reach out to people and ask questions. While everyone won’t answer, some will and from there, you engage in conversation.”
Bottomline: Make a LinkedIn account and express yourself. This will help you attract recruiters and people who will help you further your career. And when you do make your account, make sure to add Graziano to your network. He’ll “buy you a coffee” on Adelphi’s campus.