A tough grilling in an interviewer’s office can be a stressful experience no matter how well-prepared you are – and few questions cause more interview-morning heartburn than the dreaded “What’s your greatest weakness?” inquiry. Answering this question is no cakewalk for any professional, but the right approach and attitude can give you a solid advantage over the competition. Here are some expert tips to get you planning ahead and thinking positive.

Understand what employers want to know
A question about your greatest weakness might seem like an attempt to trip you up or test your reaction speed, but it actually contains a few different shades of meaning. On one hand, “an interviewer asks this question to determine if you are forthright and honest about your flaws,” says Heather McNab, author of What Top Professionals Need to Know About Answering Job Interview Questions – so your response should be clear and upfront. At the same time, says Alison Doyle, job search expert for About.com, “they’re also looking for insight into what you think are the skills you may need to improve.” That means they’ll be looking for cues about your self-assessment abilities – and how you handle your own shortcomings – so it may be helpful to focus on a weakness you’re already acknowledging and trying to improve. In the end, though, “they’re trying to find out if you’re capable of doing the job,” says Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding and author of Promote Yourself (St. Martin’s Press, fall 2013). Thus, it’s better to describe a general weakness than one directly related to the job’s core functions.

Understand what’ll turn them off
As mentioned above, no employer will hire a candidate who claims a main weakness in an area crucial for the performance of the job. But that doesn’t mean you should err too far on the side of vagueness – or worse, dishonesty. Your interviewer will likely be well-trained to sniff out avoidant answers. “Many professionals try to take a strength and turn it into a weakness – ‘I just work too hard’ – but the interviewer won’t buy it,” McNab says. Instead, what’s most important is to give the interviewer proof that you’re human, aware of your flaws, and committed to self-improvement. Even more importantly – though this might seem to go without saying – no employer will be happy to hear you claim that you don’t have any weaknesses. “This could indicate that you aren’t flexible, or are unwilling to improve when improvement is needed,” Doyle explains – or worse, it could imply that you’ve got something to hide. In short, you’ve got to pick a weakness, admit it openly, and spin it as a net positive.

Understand what kinds of stories they like
Putting your weakness in proper context means walking a delicate line. The goal is to describe the weakness as a motivation for positive self-change without sounding too defensive about the problem. In other words, “saying you lack the right skills but are a quick learner won’t help your candidacy,” Doyle says. A far better approach is to think of an area in which you’re currently working hard on improving, and frame that as a weakness. “Explain that although you’ve had difficulty in a given situation, you recovered from it, learned something and have performed better as a result,” Schawbel says. An alternate route is to talk about a weakness that has little or nothing to do with the job for which you’re interviewing. If you take this path, though, it’s important to focus on a weakness that conveys a genuine struggle – otherwise your answer may sound like a cop-out. If you tell a personal story well, though, your answer may satisfy the interviewer and cast you as a fully developed “character” at the same time.

Keep these tips in mind as you rehearse your answers, and you may wind up surprising yourself – and your potential employer – with a unique and thought-provoking answer.

Guest Blogger – Ben Thomas, a member of the Riley Guide writing team, is an expert on a variety of topics related to the job search.

To view this job/internship listing, you must be a currently registered OSU student and have an existing Beaver JobNet account. If you are eligible and do not have an account, register now. Beaver JobNet is a great way to get your job or internship search started. Meet employers from a variety of organizations.

Job/Internship of the Week
OSU Career Services
Employer Relations Assistant


Career Services seeks a Graduate Assistant or student to support a variety of employer related initiatives, including:

Career Fair planning and marketing and Event Coordination
GA will assist in coordinating and marketing quarterly Career Fairs to both students and employers
He/She will also help plan and attend other employer related events, such as Employer Advisory Committee Meetings

Communication and Marketing
GA will assist with communication efforts, such as an online employer newsletter, employer section of the Career Services website, social media efforts, and marketing for employer related events.
Duties will also include correspondence with employers regarding on campus recruiting and getting involved with OSU students and alumni

Program Improvement
GA will assist in evaluating company recruitment and programs, including Beaver JobNet (online career management system) and outreach to campus departments
Other duties as assigned, including participating in weekly staff and departmental meetings

For more information on how to apply check out the posting in Beaver JobNet.

March 12, 2013 is Girl Scout Day! On this exact day back in 1912, the first Girl Scout meeting ever was held with a group of eighteen girls in Savannah, Georgia. Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low assembled this group of girls because she believed that all girls should have the opportunity to develop physically, mentally, and spiritually. Low organized service projects outdoor adventures, and enrichment programs to get girls out of the house and into the community to provide a helping hand! The mission statement of the organization is, “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.” Over 3.2 million girls and adults are active Girl Scout members and over 50 million are Girl Scout Alumnae. Now aren’t those some impressive numbers!

Being involved in Girl Scouts is something that can provide young women with many transferable skills to enhance their professional development. Some of these things include the girls gaining an understanding of themselves, their values, their knowledge and skills to explore the world, all of these things extremely important for future careers. Some other important things they discover are their development of critical thinking in real life situations and how to deal with various challenges they will face throughout life. The connections the girls make and the relationships they build are amazing! Healthy relationships then promote the girls to effectively cooperate with people and work well in teams.  The biggest thing these girls gain is a sense of empowerment along with leadership. They become empowered to make the world a better place and gain the necessary skills of a leader in order to do so.

Girl Scouts isn’t just all about the wonderful cookies we all know and love to purchase every year when they start selling them, or about the uniforms the girls wear with the hundreds of different patches on them that we stare at in awe because we aren’t familiar with what they’re for. The organization is about girls becoming women and having the guidance and role models to hopefully become ones who will make a difference, even if it’s just a small one. Take Girl Scout Day, March 12th, 2013 as a day to recognize and appreciate all that the girls in the Girl Scout organization do for their local communities all around the world!




Posted by Carly Larson, Career Services Assistant

To view this job/internship listing, you must be a currently registered OSU student and have an existing Beaver JobNet account. If you are eligible and do not have an account, register now. Beaver JobNet is a great way to get your job or internship search started. Meet employers from a variety of organizations.

Job/Internship of the Week
Marketing and Client Service Associate
Maxim Global Wealth Advisors


We are an independent investment and financial planning firm serving globally oriented families from our offices south of Portland, Oregon. We are now searching for a talented and motivated individual to join our team in an entry-level position.

We build globally oriented investment portfolios and offer personalized retirement planning, primarily for cross-border families – both international families living in the U.S. and anyone abroad with assets in the U.S. Because of this unique specialty, we are exposed to a diverse set of financial issues which can make our work especially interesting and rewarding.

We are a small fast-growing company serving an interesting niche of families, who are generally located along the West Coast and internationally. Many of our clients are originally from Europe, India or Australia, so it is important that our staff be comfortable communicating with a multicultural client base. Candidates with international backgrounds or experience are strongly encouraged.

For more information on how to apply, check out the posting in Beaver JobNet.

Are you feeling really panicked, stressed out, or fed up?  With dead week and finals week right around the corner, how could you not be?  Well hold it in a little longer and then this Saturday, let it all out!  Each year on March 9th Americans celebrate National Panic Day.  Panic and stress are part of our everyday lives and unfortunately, you can probably count on experiencing them even more once you start your first full-time career-related position.

You may be feeling like college is so hard that anything else will be easy in comparison, that once you let go of all those topics you don’t care about, and once you aren’t trying to balance so many extra-curricular activities, coursework, and a healthy social life, sometimes in addition to a part-time job, then you will be able to relax and just focus on your one new job.  Well what we must realize is that this will be a whole new environment, with all new people to feel out and engage with and impress.  You will also most likely really care about this job and being successful within your new company.  In college you could start fresh every term and did not have to worry about getting fired for making a little mistake or having average or below average performance.

I do not mean to discourage you, most people love being out in the “real world” and it is that hope that you will continue doing well and be able to stay long term that this stress or panic comes from.  What you need are some great tools in your belt to help you handle that work related stress or panic!

First, it is important to know some of the common causes of stress or panic in the workplace.  That way you can handle them before they really start to bother you.

  • Miscommunication with your boss or coworkers
  • Increased pressure to perform without receiving increased job satisfaction
  • Being expected to give your fully best effort EVERY SINGLE DAY
  • Workplace bullying (less frequent, but it does happen, in multiple ways)
  • Some jobs are just more stressful – like when big decisions need to be made that will affect a lot of other people, or constantly working under a deadline.

Here are some of the most highly recommended tips in dealing with stress and panic on the job.  They may seem really simple but have been proven to make a difference, so take them seriously:

  • Breathing Exercises: Stop your work for a while and take some deep breaths.  This will help clear your head so you can put things in perspective.  Deep breathing combined with some light stretching helps to calm your body and has been proven to decrease stress.
  • Take short breaks: You do not always need to be glued to your desk to be efficient at work or be seen as efficient by your coworkers.  Get up and take a little walk or pick up a book for ten minutes.  Do not think about your work tasks during this time.  Again, it is all about rejuvenating yourself and clearing your head.
  • Prioritize: Make a list of all those things buzzing around in your head that you have to do, then decide which ones are the most important and put them in this order.  Next, allot a certain amount of time for each one and make a point of getting it done in that amount of time!  This will help you pace yourself, and make you let go of a really difficult task once you have given it your best effort.

If you are panicked due to a certain situation, or in dealing with another individual, here are some tips for calming yourself down:

  • Keep smiling: Just keep a smile on that face!  The research proves that you can fool even yourself by keeping a smile on your face.  When you are happy you smile, but it also works in reverse.  Doing your best to make a genuinely happy face will trigger that emotion inside you.
  • Take a time-out: Apply the 10-second rule.  It helps to just have a quick moment to gather your thoughts before you react.  Swallow down that quick snap, literally swallow, and ask someone to hold for just a moment.  Maybe go to the bathroom.  Just grit your teeth and focus on that time to remove yourself.
  • Use the other person’s name: Using names makes everyone feel more responsible for their actions and makes everyone feel more connected to the conversation.  It will also make you sound more sincere.  Studies have also shown that saying someone’s name helps you to be more empathetic and really acknowledge the other person’s point of view.
  • Remember, taking graceful action is empowering!  If the other person is acting immature or out-of-control, it will make you feel more in control of the situation to be the bigger person.
  • Vent outside of work: Write your feelings down then destroy the evidence.  Share your woes with a patient friend, but be sure to let them share their problems with you as well.  Ask someone you trust for an objective assessment of the situation.  Then pat yourself on the back for rising above!

It is important to let go of your stress or anger at the end of each day.  The nice thing about most jobs is that you do not have “homework,” so make sure you recognize that time outside of work is you-time, and do not let your to-do list distract you.

If you would like more tips about how to manage stress in the workplace, then check out this great posting on Helpguide.org

And of course, if nothing else works then just let it out!  Saturday – run around in circles, pull your hair out, and exclaim “I can’t take it anymore!”  Panic Day is your day!








Posted by Casey Anderson, Career Services Assistant

To view this job/internship listing, you must be a currently registered OSU student and have an existing Beaver JobNet account. If you are eligible and do not have an account, register now. Beaver JobNet is a great way to get your job or internship search started. Meet employers from a variety of organizations.

Job/Internship of the Week

Assistant Store Manager Internship
Ross Stores Inc.

Ross Stores, Inc. is an S&P 500, Fortune 500 and Nasdaq 100 (ROST) company headquartered in Pleasanton, California, with fiscal 2011 revenues of $8.6 billion. The
Company operates Ross Dress for Less® (“Ross”), the largest off-price apparel and home fashion chain in the United States with 1,051 locations in 30 states, the District of Columbia and Guam. Ross offers first-quality, in-season, name brand and designer apparel, accessories, footwear and home fashions for the entire family at everyday savings of 20% to 60% off department and specialty store regular prices. The Company also operates 95 dd’s DISCOUNTS® in eight states that feature a more moderately-priced assortment of first-quality, in-season, name brand apparel, accessories, footwear and home fashions for the entire family at everyday savings of 20% to 70% off moderate department and discount store regular prices. Additional information is available at www.rossstores.com.

For more information on how to apply, check out the posting in Beaver JobNet.

Ready to get inspired for your job, internship, or career search? Each month we will spotlight an OSU student that has inspired us when it comes to their career development. Check out their success stories—besides inspiration, they also show that academic major does not have to restrict your goals and that there are many ways to define success.

Want to nominate an OSU student or alum for the Student/Alum Spotlight series? Or do you want to share your own success? Then please fill out this quick form and Career Services will contact the person nominated.

Name: Tomoko Iwanaga

Major: Exercise & Sports Science- Pre-Physical Therapy Option

Year you graduated: August 2011

Graduate Program: Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program at George Fox University

1. Tell us about yourself.
If I were a food product, my label would probably say the following: made in Singapore, product of Japan, and distributed in the United States. I was born in Singapore and at the age of three, I came to the United States. My exposure to diversity continued as my parents taught Japanese and raised me in their unique traditions.

My initial interest in the health care field was when I took Human Anatomy when I was in high school. I was soon fascinated by the way our human bodies are structured and organized. However, at that point, I was not able to specify what I truly wanted to become within the broad health field. As a start, I decided to take the certified nursing assistant (CNA) class when I was a senior in high school. When I started to work as a CNA and exposed myself to diverse health careers, I noticed that I was especially interested in physical therapy. I fell in love with everything about physical therapy. I strongly believe that physical therapy has an immense amount of power and potential especially when it comes to quality of life. I consider physical therapy as a medical treatment without any side effects. It is a preventative care by introducing proper exercises and healthy life style to the patients.

Now that I am finally making a huge step towards my dream, I will do anything to become a “good” physical therapist: someone who is dependable and can serve the community. Further on, I am hoping to specialize in orthopedic manual therapy (OMT) and geriatrics. My dreams and desires never end. I am excited for this upcoming opportunity and to start a new chapter in my life!

2. How did you prepare for the physical therapy school application process?
To obtain first-hand experience in the health field, I started to work as a med aide and as a care giver at West Hills Assisted Living. Working as a med aide was a great turning point for me. I became more confident, professional, and able to handle stressful situations more easily. Such characteristics are something that I cannot learn from just sitting in the class and reading textbooks. I was also able to meet with wonderful supervisors, who wrote great reference letters and even conducted a mock interview with me. I strongly believe that the support from them helped me to prepare for the application process.

To further prepare myself, I also volunteered as a coordinator at Community Outreach. Community Outreach is a multifaceted human service organization that provides hope for people who are homeless and low income by offering a wide range of medical services, including physical therapy. The best part of volunteering at Community Outreach was to be able to observe numerous inspiring physical therapists. Unlike other internship settings, Community Outreach was more flexible and allowed students to get more involved with the patients.

I believe my working experience as a med aide at West Hills and volunteering at Community Outreach made my application more competitive.  Such experiences made me stronger as an individual and reassured me once again that a physical therapist is certainly what I want to become.

3. What advice do you have for others who are interested in applying to graduate or professional school?
Based on my personal experience, my biggest advice is to never compare yourself to others. When I got rejected to one physical therapy school last summer, I was extremely disappointed and confused. One of my friends who I helped with class assignments got accepted, and I did not. What about me was lacking? Feelings of jealousy, frustration, and all sorts of negative emotions took over me. The feeling of being left behind by my classmates and friends broke my heart into pieces. However, by taking a year off and working as a med aide, I have become more determined to pursue my dream.  Looking back now, I can understand why I did not get accepted. I only put effort to become a “better applicant” and that was not enough. I believe the biggest reason why I was accepted this year was because I focused on becoming a better health care provider to work with my future patients. Everyone has their own different ways to accomplish their dreams. Some people are capable to go straight to graduate school after college. And some people like me need extra time to fully prepare for their dreams. The pathway that you think is the longest and most difficult is actually the shortest route to accomplish your dream.

4. Did Career Services assist you anyway? If so, how?
“Nice to meet you, my name is Jen.” I can still vividly remember when I first met with Mrs. Jennifer Busick. When she reached out to shake my hands and smiled at me, I knew I found the right person. At that time, I was overwhelmed and insecure with everything- school applications, GRE, family, job, etc. I felt as if I was walking in the dark, not knowing whether there would be any light waiting for me at the end. To change the negativity, I decided to make an appointment with Mrs. Busick at Career Services. Mrs. Busick has everything one can ask for: great listening skill, sincere, genuine, caring, knowledgeable, and many more. She not only helped me for hours to polish my application essays, but she also bolstered my confidence. Lack of confidence was what I struggled with throughout my life. However, she completely changed my mentality when I met with her a week before my interview at George Fox University.

“I want you to be yourself,” she stated. “What makes you special from the crowd is that you never give up. Enjoy your moment and tell them that you REALLY want this.”

Two weeks later after the interview, I received an acceptance phone call from George Fox University. I can say with confidence that I would have not been standing where I am at without Mrs. Busick. She has changed my life! My wonderful experience with her taught me an imperative life lesson-as long as you never give up, there will always be a light of hope at the end of the tunnel.

The Beloit Mindset List, created at Beloit College in 1998, is an annual publication that aims to reflect the world-views of the year’s entering college class. The appeal for this list is widespread, mainly because it’s helpful for those who wish to gain a better grasp of what our generation is all about: teachers, advisors, and even potential employers.

Ours is a generation largely disillusioned with the American Dream. We’ve grown up accustomed to recession and an ever-increasing unemployment rate. Gone are the days when a college education was a definite guarantee of a good job, and concerns over student debt are steadily mounting. These factors have led to a generation of young adults that are much more anxious and risk-averse than their predecessors, which generates criticism because we’re not doing things the way they used to be done. The problem is, we inherited a different world. Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a research psychologist at Clark University, says this about Generation Y: “I think part of the answer is that it does take longer to grow up than it used to…Older adults are still comparing them to a standard that really is obsolete and really not fair anymore.”

Ron Nief and Tom McBride, the authors of the Beloit Mindset List, have expressed their belief that generation gaps have always needed glue. That glue is what they aim to provide by making us aware of our differences while clearing up damaging misconceptions about the younger generation. Like many aspects of life, generations aren’t better or worse than each other, just different. Those differences can make it hard to relate to one another, which is challenging when there’s a generational gap between you and a professor or a potential employer. Awareness of mindset differences and what kind of impression you give off to the preceding generation is the glue that will connect you.

All-in-all, I’m proud of my generation. I’m proud of all the young adults paying their own way through college, which is more expensive than ever. I’m proud of the importance my generation places on family and work/life balance. I’m proud of how technologically savvy we are, leading to a curious and innovative generation. I’m also proud of the renewed focus on balancing ambition with finding what you love to do, rather than focusing on just making the most money possible. Dear Generation Y – be confident! There is such a thing as being too cautious if you’re never putting yourself out there. Dear Generation X – You helped raise us to be totally awesome, thanks! We’re all in this together.

Check out the most recent Mindset List.


Posted by Deirdre Newton, Career Services Assistant