WHAT NOT TO DO:
TIPS FOR SUCCESSFUL CVs AND INTERVIEWS
NAFSA: Association of International Educators
Annual Conference
Kansas City, Missouri - June 2010
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Cori Filson, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York – Chair
Margaret Wiedenhoeft, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, Michigan
Martin Hogan, CIEE, Portland, Maine
Mistakes, I’ve seen a few…
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CV development – It’s not creative writing, it’s
your resume.
Interview do’s and don’ts – You have voicemail for
a reason and other important reminders.
References – We know your neighbor loves you,
what else do you have?
Professional development – Conferences,
networking and mentors, oh my!
CV and Cover Letter Development
Cori Filson, Skidmore College
Saratoga Springs, New York
Cover letter scanning “quiz”
What mistakes can you find in this
cover letter?
Cover Letter Mistakes
Unprofessional formatting and layout
 Incorrect position title
 Informal style (“top-notch dynamic force
in education”)
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Cover Letter Mistakes
Dear “Sir”
 “love of life” is not a professional
qualification
 Typos in own name and email address
 Used university address
 Position requires 3-5 years of experience
as international education administrator
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Cover Letter Mistakes
Cover Letter Successes
Appropriate length, format and salutation
 Outline of pertinent qualifications and
experience
 Professional presentation
 Concise but thorough
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CV scanning “quiz”
What mistakes can you find in this CV?
Joseph Smith
Department of Sociology
University of XXX
Some City, Some State
Phone: 555-555-5555
Email: [email protected]
Objective
To obtain a Staff Accountant at Equal Exchange at Equal Exchange
Education
University of XXX, Some City, Some State
PhD in Sociology, August 200X-present time. Credits completed; working on
dissertation.
Concentrations: Fair Trade, Globalization, Social Inequalities, Marketing,
Representations, Gender, Race, Culture.
Overall GPA: 3.82
Joseph Smith
Department of Sociology
University of XXX
Some City, Some State
Phone: 555-555-5555
Email: [email protected]
May 05-June 07 Accounting Assistant, SUNY Albany’s Study Abroad Program in Brazil
Aimed at providing college students with hands-on learning experience on issues of
race, poverty, and community organization including fair trade initiatives.
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Assisted in preparation of the course
Made travel arrangements
Lectured and translated lectures
Mentored students
CV Mistakes
Use of work email and phone
 Objective not specific to position
 GPA often irrelevant
 Experience – title of position does not
match job duties
 Know your audience
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CV Common Mistakes
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Poor layout/margins
Inappropriate length
Font that isn’t easily readable
Gaps in job history
No highlighting of appropriate international
experience
“Other” section
International, campus and provider positions
might have different expectations
CV Successes
Professional presentation
 Concise but thorough
 “Career Profile” vs. “Objective”
 Pertinent experience and qualifications
highlighted – language proficiency,
professional development, travel/study
abroad
 Career trajectory clear
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References
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Choose wisely – is your reference eager or
reluctant?
Ask for permission – don’t assume
Professional, not personal/character references –
a volunteer position supervisor may be an option
if you have limited professional experience
Send job description and resume to your
reference
Remind the reference nearer the time of the call
Thank your reference
Interview Dos and Don’ts
Margaret Wiedenhoeft, Kalamazoo College,
Kalamazoo, Michigan
Telephone Interview
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Find a quiet place to conduct interview
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Have prepared answers/notes + your resume
available and in front of you
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Immediately after, try to remember all they
asked you and who participated (in the event
of on-campus interview)
On-Site Interview –
Before You Even Arrive
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Interview attire
Professional etiquette
Preparation – researching institution
and office
Prepare for answers to difficult
questions
Practice interview
Typical Interview Activities
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Meet with students
Meet with staff/potential colleagues
Meet immediate supervisor
Campus or office presentation
Other important constituent groups
The Day of the Interview
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Bring copies of your CV and references.
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Turn off your cell phone!
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NO FIDGETING!
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Remember – this is a two way street. You
should be a good fit for the office, but
they also need to be a good fit for you.
Interview Questions
 What NOT to talk about
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your own personal scheduling needs
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anything that is very personal
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your anticipated schedule of promotions
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your problems with your current office/boss
Interview Questions:
What to talk about
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previous accomplishments in current position
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why you are leaving/looking for a new
position
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follow up questions are important
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give specific examples of successes and
challenges
Interview Questions
Describe an experience that required an enormous
amount of flexibility on your part. How did you
handle it?
Give Specific detail:
“I worked with a faculty member in designing a short-term
international seminar. She insisted students should be able to
take motorcycles to the top of a holy mountain that was going to
be the highlight of the class….”
“I have experience working with non-traditional students who
may not always be able to meet 9-5. These are some of the ways I
developed to communicate with them…
Give us an example of a difficult situation or
conflict that your resolved successfully. What
was the problem and how did you resolve it?
I received an angry phone call from a parent of a student in
Spain. Dad was very upset by the amount of food his student
received in the home stay. He demanded reimbursement for the
additional food his student had to purchase. I thanked him for his
call, explained my next steps, and told him when I would be
contacting him next. After I contacted our local on-site director, I
learned that the student had never talked to the host mom about
the amount of food he received and that on most days he didn’t
come home for lunch. I asked both the student and director to meet
to discuss the situation…
Give us an example of a time-sensitive project that you
just couldn’t get done on time. How did you handle it?
We had a deadline for our new website launch. It was my
responsibility to collect and edit the content and to deliver it to the
webmaster. Some of my colleagues had already told me they
would be delivering their piece to me a day or two later than
planned. I didn’t think it would be a big deal because we built in
some “wiggle room,” but I didn’t check with the webmaster. After I
sent the content to the WM, I received an angry phone call from
her asking why I hadn’t sent it in by the original deadline. She
had other projects on the table and had given our office this
specific deadline for a reason. I immediately took responsibility,
apologized, and asked her how this would affect the launch date. I
then went to my supervisor, explained what happened, and took
responsibility for the mistake. In the end, we were only 1 day later
than originally scheduled. I learned the importance of
communication with all collaborators and that I should never
make assumptions about other colleagues’ workloads.
Post Interview
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Thank you notes - making reference to
specific topics discussed during
conversations
Follow up as appropriate (Email search
committee chair when appropriate time
has lapsed– What is the status of the
search? Do not stalk!)
Professional Development:
Knowledge, Understanding, Skills
Martin Hogan, CIEE, Portland, Maine
Development of Expertise
 Understanding your own campus/organization
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What is rewarded?
Matching professional interest with personal interest (they are
different!)
 Within International Education field
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Developing niche knowledge (Financial {budgets or financial
aid}, Programmatic {service-learning or short-term programs},
Regional {geographic area}, etc.)
 Greater Education Community
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Career Services, Student Development, Parent Relations,
Community organizing
 What to Avoid
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type casting, too narrow knowledge and interest
Building a Reputation
Presentations – within the field, within
the greater community
 Committee work – on campus and in the
field
 Online communities – LinkedIn,
Facebook, etc.
 What to Avoid – impatience,
overextending, missing deadlines, etc.
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Mentors
 Why is this important?
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“Small” Community, 3 degrees of separation, etiquette and
diplomacy, culture and norms
 Professional Organizations
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Forum on Education Abroad
NAFSA
Greater Community
 Staff Exchanges
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Short-term, around a project, extending your interest and
reach
Within your institution or with partner organizations
Skills Development
Writing
 Public Speaking
 Business Technology
 Certificate programs
 Pursuing advanced degrees
 Specialist vs. Generalist
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Skills Development - Resources
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Chronicle of Higher Education
(http://chronicle.com/section/Home/5)
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Inside Higher Education
(http://www.insidehighered.com/)
OSAC: Overseas Security Advisory
Council (http://www.osac.gov/)
 SECUSS-L (http://www.usouthal.edu/acip/secussl/)
 Google Alerts (Study Abroad, etc.)
 On-line International News
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Skills Development - Resources
NAFSA (http://www.nafsa.org/)
 IIE: Institute of International Education
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(http://www.iie.org/)
EAIE: European Association for
International Education (http://www.eaie.org/)
 ACE: American Council on Education
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(http://www.acenet.edu/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home)
Skills Development - Resources
Frontiers (http://www.frontiersjournal.com/)
 Journal of Studies in International
Education (http://jsi.sagepub.com/)
 Higher Education Association News
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(NACADA, etc.)
Harvard Business Review (http://hbr.org/)
 New Yorker Magazine
 TED: Ideas Worth Spreading
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(http://www.ted.com/)
Questions/Discussion
Additional Resources
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Balderrama, A. (2008) 8 worst things to Say in an interview
available at
http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/worklife/06/23/cb.interview.ti
ps/index.html
Delgizzo,K. & Malisheski, L., Preparing for Campus Interviews.
Chronicle Careers. January 17, 2003
http://chronicle.com/jobs/news/2003/01/2003011701c.htm
http://www.collegegrad.com/jobsearch/Mastering-theInterview/Ten-Tough-Interview-Questions-and-Ten-GreatAnswers/
Networking and Interviewing Guide (2008). Center for Career
Development. Kalamazoo College.
Career Advice, Inside Higher Ed:
http://www.insidehighered.com/advice
Manage Your Career, The Chronicle of Higher Education:
http://chronicle.com/section/Manage-Your-Career/67/