6 Ways to (un)Impress a Job Interviewer

You did it! You just landed an interview with your dream employer! You’re totally amped and ready to nail it. You’ve got this!

… But, don’t start doing your victory dance just yet.

While there’s plenty of advice on the Internet to help you avoid some of the more common interviewing mistakes, many people don’t realize the dangers of trying just a little too hard to “wow” your prospective employer. If you’re not careful, your eagerness to impress may actually do you more harm than good.

With that in mind, here are six ways to turn off an interviewer really fast.

1. Come on a little too strong

It goes without saying that you want to leave your interviewer with a good first impression, but be careful you don’t overdo it. You could come across overanxious, desperate, or simply full of yourself.

For example, it’s a good idea to arrive 10 to 15 minutes before your interview, but showing up half an hour or more ahead of time might be pushing it. When your interviewer goes to shake hands with you, don’t try to impress her with your best kung fu grip. Sure, no one likes a “dead fish” handshake, but you don’t have to crush her hand like a trash compactor, either.

Likewise, making eye contact with your interviewer is definitely a good practice, but making constant, intensely focused eye contact with him throughout the duration of the interview? That’s not professional—that’s just creepy!

Remember, job interviews aren’t just about whether you’re qualified for the position. They’re also a test of whether you’re the kind of person the interviewer wants to work with. Think of it this way: Based on the way you present yourself, would you want to work with you?

2. Overdress for the occasion

Don’t get me wrong, dressing for success is always a good idea, but nothing screams, “I’m overcompensating for my lack of skills and experience,” like wearing a tuxedo to your interview.

A good rule of thumb is to dress for the job you’re interviewing for. In other words, if you’re applying for a job as a construction worker, dress like a construction worker. If you want to join a prestigious law firm, then follow suit! (No pun intended … OK, kind of intended.)

Keep in mind that some employers may have a more casual dress culture at the workplace. If that’s the case, dressing up in a fancy business suit may actually be a big turnoff for your interviewer. When in doubt, find out how the employees at the company you want to work for dress and try to go one step nicer than that. That’s all there is to it.

3. Act like you’re overqualified for the position

You may think that being overqualified for the job is a point in your favor. It isn’t.

Think about it: Employers generally want the best employees for the lowest amount of money possible. It’s called business.

If you act as though you’re tremendously overqualified for the job, your interviewer may assume either a) you really aren’t interested in the job after all, or b) you’re expecting a much higher salary than what the company’s willing to pay. In either event, your interviewer will move on to the next candidate without skipping a beat.

Even if you are the smartest, most talented, or most experienced person in the room, don’t make it a point to let your interviewer know it. Instead, simply demonstrate that you have the knowledge and skills you need to deliver what the employer is looking for and add real value to his or her organization.

4. Hijack the interview

If there’s one way to make sure your interviewer doesn’t hire you, it’s to hijack the interview.

How do you hijack an interview? Talk too much. Ask too many questions. Make too many demands. Try to take control of the interview. Give long, drawn-out, overly detailed answers to questions, etc.

Remember, even if you’re applying for a managerial position the interviewer is the one running the show, not you. Yes, you want to make sure the job is a good fit for you and your career, but, as far as the interviewer’s concerned, this meeting is about whether you are a good fit for the job, as well as the team you’ll be working with.

Here’s a tip: Treat your job interview like any other normal conversation between acquaintances. No one likes a person who goes on and on about himself without giving anyone a word in edgewise. So, give strong, fact-based responses to any questions you’re asked, and ask pertinent questions of your own, but don’t try to take over.

5. Pretend your greatest weakness is your greatest strength

It’s that dreaded question that interviewers just love to ask: “What is your greatest weakness?” Before you give a knee-jerk, sugarcoated answer, however, be warned. You may be tempted to say something like, “I’m such a perfectionist,” or, “I just care too much about my clients,” or some other insincere line that interviewers are tired of hearing.


Just as dogs can smell fear, an experienced interviewer can sniff out insincerity from across the room.

Nobody’s perfect. Believe it or not, your interviewer wants an honest answer. (Well, perhaps not too honest—no need to reveal any skeletons hiding in your closet!) She just wants to know what you’ve done to overcome your personal challenges in the workplace.

It’s not even so much about what you answer as how you answer it.

So, how do you answer this question? Here are some examples.

Weak sauce: “I don’t have any weaknesses.”

OK sauce: “My weakness is that I really struggle speaking in front of other people.”

Awesome sauce: “I get really nervous sometimes speaking in front of other people, especially during meetings. Usually, this isn’t a problem, but I’ve found that sometimes I’ve kept quiet during meetings when I should have shared my ideas or insights. This would have helped address some problems early on and prevented unnecessary work for my colleagues and me.

I finally decided to approach my supervisor about this weakness. She reassured me that I was a valued member of the team and encouraged me to speak up whenever I felt I had something important to contribute. It was really difficult at first, but as I began to share my thoughts more and more, we discovered a significant flaw in our project management processes that, once addressed, helped us complete 50% more of our projects before the deadline.”

Once again, the key is to be genuine without being too self-deprecating. Then, highlight what you’ve done to improve and positively affect your previous work.

6. Follow up every hour, on the hour

The saying goes, “The squeaky wheel is the one that gets oiled.” But, following up too much or too often is not a good way to show initiative and persistence. It is, however, a great way to bug your prospective employer until he decides to hire someone else.

Remember, interviewers are busy people. Chances are, interviewing new job candidates is not their only responsibility. He may have any number of priorities competing for his attention. Perhaps he even wants to hire you but is busy taking care of other stuff.

So, how do you follow up without annoying your interviewer?

1. Ask what the next step is before you leave the interview. This will give you a good idea what to expect and how long to wait before following up.

2. Send a “thank you” note or email right away. This will help you solidify the good impression you made on your interviewer while the interview is still fresh in her mind.

3. Send your interviewer an invitation to connect via LinkedIn. This is an unobtrusive way to remind your interviewer about your interview without sounding needy. Plus, it’s a great way to build your network! Better yet, introduce your interviewer to a valuable former coworker or colleague, e.g., “I noticed you’re also looking for a good web designer. Let me introduce you to … I think she’d be just what you’re looking for.”

4. If time drags on with no response, check in (periodically). Once again, it’s important to not harass your potential employer, i.e., “Did I get the job yet?” Instead, check in every three to five business days. Even better, offer something of value to your contact, a “reason” beyond just checking in, so to speak.

For example, you could forward a blog or article that you think might be of interest to your interviewer. In your email, you could say something like, “Hi Bill. We spoke about two weeks ago regarding the project manager position at ABC Incorporated. I remember you mentioned emerging trends in asset management software, so I thought I’d attach this article I found recently on the subject. I hope you find it as interesting as I did!” etc.

Learn how to impress potential employers at CollegeAmerica

Ready to impress your interviewer(s)? The right degree on your résumé could make the difference between landing the job and getting passed over for a more qualified candidate.

At CollegeAmerica, we offer a wide variety of employment-focused degrees for fields such as healthcare, business, information technology, and graphic design. Our flexible course scheduling allows you to go to school on your terms and on your schedule. You can choose daytime, evening, or online1 classes and finish your degree in as few as 20 months.2

Once you graduate, our Career Services department can help you polish your résumé, grow your professional network, and improve your interviewing skills, so you can nail your job interviews every time.

Call 1-800-622-2894 or go here to learn more.

1. Online programs are offered by our affiliated institution, Independence University.
2. General completion timeframe of an associate’s degree.

How to Combine Your Study Time with Good Parenting

Going back to school when you have children at home is no easy task. But it is definitely possible to raise kids and attend college at the same time.

Here are a few tips from student-parents that show how you can balance spending quality time with your kids and meeting your own education goals.

Create study time games   

Play is a part of learning! Make your kids a part of study times by creating games. Have them hold flash cards for you, explain things out loud to them in a funny voice, or teach them mnemonic devices that you’re using to remember information.

A side benefit: Later, when they repeat the information you’ve taught them, you’ll be reminded of what you need to know.

Plan on interruptions

Always plan to be interrupted while your kids are with you. Rather than reading dense materials or trying to get through that paper, choose high-level tasks such as: making outlines, reviewing notes from class, making flash cards, and skimming lighter reading.

That way, when distractions happen, you’ll be able to get back on the study track much faster.

Take breaks for play

Plan play breaks during your studying so you can concentrate on being with your kids. Taking regular breaks is good for your memory, as well! Try a time management method to keep track of study and break periods. You might even use a kitchen timer so the kids can count down to play time.

Anything that you can do to make positive associations between study time and fun time will benefit you. The idea is to slowly train your kids to understand that “study time” means “quiet time,” and play time is just around the corner.

Make study time special

Keep special toys that are just for your study time. That way, your kids get to play with exciting toys while you work and will associate these treats with your studying. So when you say you need to study, they will get excited about their toys.

Choose TV and movies carefully as they can be distracting for everybody. During study times, you may want to choose calming, educational programs for your kids to watch. This can be a treat for them, especially if they don’t get to watch TV regularly. You can do light schoolwork in the same room so they get to enjoy your physical presence.

Study together

If your child or children are in school, schedule your schoolwork time together. You’ll be able to monitor your kid’s homework while doing your own and set a good example. It’s a great opportunity to bring back study games and quiz each other!

Plan for study alone time

Sometimes children just can’t be part of your study time. When you need to write your paper or get through dense reading, focus is key. Studying after the kids go to bed is a tried-and-true option. You might also consider adding a bit of time to the beginning and end of your day out of the house for studying so you can find a quiet place to do some work.

Remember that you don’t have to be out of the house to use childcare. If you can afford it, hiring someone to spend time with the kids while you’re home may be helpful. Enlist the help of friends with kids and family members when you need it.

Going to school when you have kids isn’t easy. But you knew that going in. The same determination that helped you focus on your education will help you practice good parenting as well.

CollegeAmerica offers a wide variety of degree options in healthcare, business, technology, and graphic arts. Call 1-800-622-2894 or visit www.collegeamerica.edu today to learn more.

How to Choose the Right Healthcare Degree

With so many healthcare degrees to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you?

The first step is to decide if you want to work directly with patients, administering and facilitating care, or if you’d prefer to play a more administrative role in an office setting.

Imagine your ideal work environment. Are you in a hospital or a clinic? Do you see yourself in an office setting? If you’re not sure, don’t worry. There are many healthcare degrees that can qualify you for a wide range of work settings.

Once you have identified your preferred role — whether it’s direct patient care or administration and management — it’s time to explore degree programs that will prepare you for success in your chosen field.

Who works in direct patient care?


For students who want to work directly with patients in a general care capacity, in hospitals or clinics, a nursing degree is a good choice.

Look into nursing degrees to prepare for this career path.

If you’re already working as a nurse or in a related role, you may want to further your career by becoming a teacher or administrator. Consider degrees such as a master’s in nurse education (MS)* or nurse administration (MS)*.

Support Staff

If you like the idea of working directly with patients but have decided nursing isn’t the fit for you, consider a medical specialties (AOS) degree. With this degree, you may find work as a medical assistant, a pharmacy technician, a home health aide, or other positions in hospitals or doctors’ offices.

A health science (BS)* degree will also prepare you to work with patients in a variety of settings. This degree can also be a good start for a future training in a particular field of medicine, as well as allow you to find work in administration or management if you find you’d prefer that path.

Who manages patient care and healthcare organizations?


If you’d rather not work directly with patients, a career in administration means you are still providing effective care. A healthcare administration (BS) degree will prepare you to work in small offices or in an assistant role in larger facilities. To advance in the field, you’ll likely need a healthcare administration (MS)* degree.

The medical specialties (AOS) degree also prepares you for administrative work such as coding and billing.

Information Management

If organizing and interpreting data appeals to you, consider earning a degree in health information management (BS)* or healthcare informatics (MS)*. With a master’s in healthcare informatics, you may find jobs in health data analysis, IT management, or pharmaceutical work.

CollegeAmerica offers a wide variety of degree options designed for employment in healthcare. Call 1-800-622-2894 or visit http://www.collegeamerica.edu/admissions today to learn more.

*Online programs are offered by our affiliated institution, Independence University.

For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who completed the programs and other important information, please visit our website at www.collegeamerica.edu/student-information.

4 Ways to Make College More Affordable

So you’ve decided to get a college degree, but you don’t want to fall into the trap of eating Ramen noodles for every meal. Well, don’t worry. By creating and sticking to a budget, you can potentially avoid that all-too-common “broke college student” scenario, and maybe even have some money leftover to eat out.

As you prepare for the school year, it’s important to not forget key expenses. In addition to tuition, supplies, and financial aid, also be sure to consider:

  • Housing, food, transportation and other necessities, especially if you will need to make any changes to your location or lifestyle
  • Reduced wages as a result of working less while in school
  • Emergency savings for unplanned events

With a little research and a strategy that looks closely at your expenses and your income, you can figure out how best to finance your education.

Here are four tips for back-to-school financial planning:

1.  Figure out your expenses

The best way to know your future financial requirements is to examine your current expenses. If you pay most of your expenses with a credit or debit card, an online budget tool can be helpful. Look at online tools like Mint (or if you prefer not to give a third party your information, try an application like BudgetPulse.)

When you see your spending and can categorize it, you’ll be able to see how much your regular expenses cost, such as housing and transportation. You’ll also have the information you need to make choices about where you could spend less — and free up more money for tuition or supplies.

2.  Explore financial aid options

There are two main kinds of financial aid: the kind you don’t have to pay back (grants and scholarships), and the kind you do have to pay back (student loans). The U.S. Department of Education offers a general guide on the different kinds of financial aid and how to responsibly manage loans once you have them.

Grants and scholarships

This type of financial aid is an award of money that you don’t need to pay back. Grants are usually need-based, and the Department of Education offers a variety of federal grants for different kinds of students. Scholarships are usually (but not always) merit-based.

You can search for scholarships on sites such as Scholarships.com, The College Board, and Fastweb. Some scholarships invite anyone to apply, while others are available for much smaller groups of applicants.

Eligibility for scholarships can be based on veteran status, ethnicity, organization affiliation (for you or possibly a relative), winning a contest, overcoming past adversity, and many other factors.

The sites listed above offer you many ways to narrow down the options and find scholarships with requirements you may meet. In addition, the U.S. government and various organizations offer special grants and scholarships for military families  and for veterans and dependents.

Student loans

Student loans are a type of financial aid that you do have to pay back. Interest rates and terms can be very different between private and public loans and even between lenders. The Federal Trade Commission’s guide to private and public loans  is a great place to start studying the different options available.

The Department of Education’s guide to fraud and identity theft is also full of helpful information to help you make the best choice possible and avoid scams. The government offers both private and public student loans, but your bank or credit union may also offer private loans too.

When considering student loans, don’t forget to figure out how much you’ll be paying per month during school or after graduation. The Department of Education’s Repayment Estimator is a great place to start figuring out if the loans you can get are worth taking.

3.  Decide if you’ll work while you study and how much

Understanding your expenses and financial aid options will make it easier to see if you need to work throughout school or if savings plus grants and loans will be enough. Review your job responsibilities and needs, together with finances, to decide how many hours you’ll have available for work and how much time you can set aside for your studies.

If you’re looking to advance in your current field, your employer may offer tuition reimbursement. If you’re looking to switch fields, it may still be worth asking if your employer will offer you a limited or flexible work schedule.

4.  Make your budget

Once you know your expenses and what money you’ll have available from work, loans, grants, or other sources, you can create your budget. It can come in lots of forms: a handwritten list, a spreadsheet with formulas, set categories in an online budgeting tool, or even the classic cash-centered envelope system for financial planning.

If you’re on your computer or phone pretty often, an online version might be best. If you find it easier to work with ink and paper, use that method. Once you have your budget set, revisit it every three to six months to see if you should move money between categories.

Budgeting for school can be summed up with this equation:

  • Take your existing budget
  • Minus any expenses you can cut
  • Minus any changes in your wages
  • Plus grants and student loans

Make use of helpful online resources, learn about financial aid options at your school, and check in with your current or potential employer, and you’ll be well on your way to getting all of the benefits of higher education.

CollegeAmerica offers a wide variety of degree options in healthcarebusinesstechnology, and graphic arts. Call 1-800-622-2894 or visit www.collegeamerica.edu today to learn more.