Resume Help/Interview Prep


Hi Dr. Converse,

I have finished a couple of interviews recently and, so far, no calls back.  I wonder if there might be something I am not doing in this whole process.  I have talked to some friends who have also had interviews but their experiences seem to be different than mine.  I'm not sure if the problem is my preparation for the interview or the interview itself.  Any thoughts?

Hi Laura,

This is a fairly open question and your situation is one that could have a number of solutions.  Let's consider the possibilities and then, if you have more specific things you want to ask, feel free to send me a follow-up or you can write me at the email address below.

First, the preparation needs to be specific to the job.  That is, do your research and find out everything you can about the prospective employer if you haven't already done so.  Their history, mission, philosophy, the people in the institution - especially the ones who will be doing a job similar to yours - any news about them either in print on on the web, etc.  In other words, know more about them than they know about themselves.  Be especially attentive to how the institution operates with respect to those things that were described in the job announcement.  What are their expectations for incoming people?  Where would your job fit in with their mission and goals?  

Second, your research should lead you to specific questions you need to be asking at the appropriate time in the interview.  Usually this comes at the end of the prepared questions they will ask.  "Do you have any questions for me (or us)?" is a typical final question.  That is the point at which you should ask those things that demonstrate you have done your homework and are prepared to ask incisive questions that indicate you have given some thought to the operations of the institution and want more detail about things that research did not answer.  This is an opportune place to impress an interviewer (or interview committee) with your insights and thoughtful analysis about the position you hope to fill.

Third, you need to review the entire process as you have experienced it and see if there are ways you can improve your performance.  Are you dressed appropriately?  If you don't know or aren't sure, send me a note and I can help you there.  Did you arrive on time and make a good impression?  How is your body language during the interview?  Again, if you aren't certain how this needs to be communicated or how to do it, send me a note.  Did you prepare sufficiently for the interview questions?  This last item is the one most neglected by job seekers but is one of the most important tasks you have.

Write likely interview questions on one side of a card with your talking points on the other.  Ask yourself the questions and rehearse your responses using the talking points that make use of your background and expertise as well as integrating the needs of the employer in each response.  Then have a trusted friend ask the questions.  You need to treat the rehearsal questions the same way you would in a real interview.  There is no such thing as doing things "informally" with the assumption you can be more "formal" when the real interview is under way.  It doesn't work like that.  However you practice, however you rehearse your responses will be how you perform - except that you will likely be under a lot more stress at the real interview so your chances of missing some vital talking points will be much greater.  The more you rehearse, the better your performance will be at the actual interview, so take your practice time seriously.

If you don't have a list of twenty possible questions that this employer is likely to ask you, let me know and I can help you with that.  Look at the job announcement and pay close attention to the way that they describe the qualifications and duties of the person they want to fill the job.  They have taken a good bit of time to list these things because these descriptions are what they want their ideal employee to have.  The likelihood that they will ask you about things taken from their job description is very high.  So, pay very close attention to how the job announcement is worded.

Get back to me if you need additional guidance; hope this helps; best of luck!

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Ralph D. Converse, Ph.D.


I can answer questions about general job searches, resume construction, crafting an effective cover letter, and how to prepare for, and conduct, a winning interview. My speciality is the field of education, but I also have extensive background in business and administration. I know what works and what doesn't work and I can make your application package stand out from the rest ... because that is what you have to do.


I have interviewed for, and held, dozens of jobs in a career going back more than 42 years. I have taught at all educational levels including middle school, high school, community college, and university. In more than 42 years of experience on both sides of the job-search process, I have interviewed hundreds of applicants and have reviewed literally tens of thousands of job application packages. I am the author of 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them! I conduct workshops for job seekers in a variety of locations every year.

Music Educator's Journal, Teaching Music, Music and American Culture (forthcoming, 2013), Last Teacher Standing: The Job is Yours Now! and 12 Mistakes That Got Your Job Application Rejected ... And How To Fix Them!

B.A. New Mexico State University; M.Mus. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D. University of California and University of North Texas

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