“So what do people here do for lunch?”

That was a question a recent college graduate and job applicant asked a prospective employer during an interview.

It’s funny now, but it may well have put the kibosh on the applicant’s chances, said Lisa Gavigan, director of the Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services at Wheaton College.

The interview can make or break the chances of an applicant for a job, and asking about lunch prospects doesn’t create a good impression with someone who hires, she said.

Sometimes in a panic, questions like that can pop out, but advisers at Wheaton work to make sure they don’t.

Preparation is key and counselors at the Filene Center offer specific advice to students heading into what for some may be their first interview ever for a job.

There are plenty of dos and don’ts said Gavigan. Here are some of them:

  • Do your homework, learn as much as you can about the company and the job for which you’re applying.
  • Do practice the interview. Get comfortable telling your story.
  • Do be professional in appearance and demeanor. Dress for the interview, not the job.
  • Do acknowledge and be kind to people as soon as you enter the employer’s building. Don’t wait to let your professionalism show.
  • Do ask questions pertinent to the industry and job. Those questions could include asking about what a typical workday looks like.
  • Do practice shaking hands and looking people in the eye.
  • Do talk about your achievements, but not in an arrogant way.
  • Do thank the interviewer by email and follow that up with a handwritten note.
  • Do be genuine.
  • Don’t be late.
  • Don’t discuss salary in the first interview.
  • Don’t rush through answers.
  • Don’t bring your cellphone.
  • And, DON’T ASK ABOUT LUNCH!

George W. Rhodes can be reached at 508-236-0432.

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