Collegebound Network

Since 1987, America's Trusted Resource on Higher Education



Hook Yourself Up by Kissing Up?

Forget what you thought about teachers' pets, and take a lesson from the slick wannabe Trumps on "The Apprentice." Kissing up during an interview can help you score a sweet internship, so long as you can back up your pucker-up.

"If you seem like a friendly, likable person, you'll stand apart from the rest," says Chad Higgins, a University of Washington (Seattle, WA) management professor who studied undergrads applying for jobs and the recruiters who interviewed them. In his research, he found that talking up your resume does little to endear you to potential bosses. But figuring out what interests you share can help you get ahead.

"Find things in common with your recruiter -- whether you've gone to the same school, come from the same part of the country, or have a hobby in common," says Higgins. "Those things are fairly innocuous and don't seem to be an obvious attempt to get on the good side of the recruiter. If a recruiter thinks he has things in common with a candidate, he'll probably think he'll be a good fit with other workers in the company."

That doesn't mean you shouldn't play up your strengths if the conversation goes in that direction, says Higgins. "You need to self-promote to some extent to make employers aware of your abilities," he says, "but ingratiation can give you a boost above and beyond someone who comes in and just talks about how good they are."

Saranda Sela, 22, a Lynn University (Boca Raton, FL) senior, agrees that having a charming personality can give you an edge, but a good understanding of the company and of your own goals are also key to landing an awesome internship.

"When I researched companies, I chose to apply to the programs that matched my goals, so when I interviewed, I agreed with everything the interviewers said," says Saranda, an international relations major now interning at Merrill Lynch. "If I don't agree with a company's policies, I'm not going on the interview. The whole point of an internship is to get to know what you want to do in life. It's a major step into the real world. If a company can't give you what you want, why work there?"

How you answer questions also reflects the type of worker you'll be -- "So you don't want to be mumbling out an answer to a question for 20 minutes when you can get your point across in five," says Saranda, who interned for nonprofit Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International in Washington, D.C., last year.

And don't be afraid to ask questions right back. "You should have a couple ready for the end of the interview," she says. "Bring a pen and paper to take notes, too. They like that you want to write things down to remember."

Still, a little kissing up doesn't hurt. "I always laugh at interviewers' bad jokes," Saranda says, chuckling. "You definitely get points for doing that, because nobody likes someone not laughing at their jokes."


Share
ShareBar