Be informed before the interview

It’s about that time of year again when seniors scramble around to get everything ready for graduation. In order to graduate, seniors have to pay application fees, make appointments with their advisors for degree audits, order caps and gowns, order announcements, and so on. For most seniors, the reality will hit about finding a job, somewhere between applying for graduation and actually walking across that stage. It’s a long, not to mention hard, process. There are drafts after drafts of résumés and cover letters, and there are job searches, job fairs, and interviews. It can get tiring after a while, as many of you know. Landing that dream job isn’t easy! Shortly, those graduating in December will be going to some interviews, and possibly those graduating in May will have some in the near future. It’s important to prepare for these interviews, not just by writing down answers to some guaranteed most-asked questions like “Tell me about yourself,” or “Why should I hire you?” Seniors should also know illegal questions that employers are not allowed to ask and also how to handle them should they find themselves in that situation. One question employers are not allowed to ask is if you’ve ever been arrested. Sure, college students can do stupid things at times, such as setting off fire alarms at 2:00 in the morning, having a simple prank go bad, or getting a little out of hand at a party. This shouldn’t keep you from being hired if you’re smart enough to work around it. Employers are allowed to ask if you’ve ever been convicted of a felony. Of course, that question is always followed by a statement that a conviction will not disqualify you, but realistically, why would they hire you over someone with a little cleaner record? So even though employers aren’t allowed to ask you if you’ve been arrested, there is a small chance that they will ask. If you really want the job, don’t say the question is illegal-chances are they already know. Simply reply by turning your previous situation into a good one, for example, “Yes, (insert situation) was really immature of me, but it taught me a valuable lesson.” Tell them what you learned from it and how it made you a better person. You may earn some respect if you play your cards right. Another question employers should steer away from is if you’re married or if you plan on starting a family in the near future. Like it or not, this type of question affects women more so than men. No company wants to go through the hiring process only to find out that the person they hired is three months pregnant. While it’s not a good idea to apply for a professional job right before you’d have to quit, some people might do so for the medical insurance. If you’re asked about family plans, just say that you and your spouse agree that your career is just as important as theirs. This lets them know that you’re serious about working for them. A question that is becoming more and more important is one that regards your place of birth. Employers are now more aware of illegal immigration than ever before. Interviewers are not allowed to ask where you or your parents were born. They can, however, ask you if you can provide proof of your right to work in the United States should you be hired. It’s possible that you were born in another country but are a United States citizen. It’s also possible that you’ve earned a green card and United States citizenship. In fact, there are a number of possibilities that affect your right to work, but being of a different culture or race should not prevent you from getting the job you want. If employers do ask you where you or your family were born, tell them you can verify your right to work in the United States. Never lie about your right because sooner or later, they will find out. Getting ready to head out into the real world is not easy. Perhaps the job interview process is delayed if you’re making plans to attend a graduate school or further your education a different route. Either way, being informed about your privacy rights would be a smart thing to do. It never hurts to know too much, especially when it comes to competing with twenty other people for the same job.