Although not technically considered a working-class adult yet, I am on my fourth internship since beginning my college career in 2016. I agree, this still doesn’t quite make me an expert on the professional world, but one of those internships was with Southwest Airlines.
Because it is such a large company (63,000 employees to be exact), they have a whole internship program and an entire department called Campus Reach, which is dedicated to making the intern experience with the company as rewarding as possible. Professional development is one of the main aspects they focus on, so we had an entire day where we were excused from our work (unless it was extremely pressing, of course) to participate in Professional Development Day.
The day consisted of a number of sessions featuring different employees and professionals speaking to us about the following topics: Interviewing 101 – Recruiter Panel; Job Descriptions: A Guide to Interviewing Success; Negotiating a Salary, Finances: Your Guide to Adulting; and LinkedIn Do’s and Dont’s.
I learned a lot of things that day that were the exact opposite of what I had been told over and over again by professionals thus far in my college career, including these four common misconceptions:
1. Thank you notes can still be notes. Maybe it’s just me, but I was under the misconception that in this modern world, thank you notes will only be read if sent by email. I’m not saying to send them in the mail, because that will take too long and there’s a good chance it will get lost in nowhere land, but the professionals did share that you can stay a few minutes after your interview and write your note, hand it to the receptionist and ask him or her if they could pass it along to your interviewer(s).
They also mentioned that the shorter the note, the better. I’ve seen a lot of articles that say you should remind the interviewer why you’re a good fit for the job, bring up something you spoke about in the interview, etc. This is all important, but the longer the note, the less likely it is that it will be read. So, try to hit the really important topics, but get straight to the point, which is ultimately, to thank them for their time and the opportunity.
2. In an interview, DO NOT ask: “Do you have any reservations about hiring me?” This is one that was really hard for me to accept because I’ve been hearing professionals for the last three years tell me that this question shows confidence and boldness; however, the professionals at Southwest shared that this makes everyone in the interview feel very uncomfortable, even if you did well, but even more so if you did not. Rarely is the interviewer going to respond and say yes, actually, we’re worried you won’t be dependable – or whatever it may be. They just won’t hire you. So don’t dig yourself into a hole with this question. The professionals offered an alternative to this question: “I’m really excited about this position. I hope I’ve answered all your questions, please let me know if you have any other questions for me. I’m really passionate about this role, so thank you for the opportunity.”
3. Don’t put the caller on speaker phone during a phone interview. Alright, I see now that this one might be pretty obvious, but for me, it’s much more comfortable to put the call on speaker phone and be able to talk with your hands like you would in a face-to-face conversation. However, doing so can often lead to the interviewer having trouble understanding the candidate and, ultimately, can lead to ruining your chances of moving forward in the process.
4. The job description may go away after you apply, so be sure to download it, print it, take a picture of it, etc. Southwest, for example, will remove the job description after the application period closes, so if you apply and then months later find out you got an interview, you won’t be able to go back and see what the requirements of the job were. So, be sure to keep the description. This goes for any company, just make it a habit because you never know.