Preparation is Key to Landing Dream Job, Says MCCC Professor Kathi Paluscio


WEST WINDSOR – Being prepared, and following up before and after the interview, may be the key to landing your dream job, according to Mercer County Community College (MCCC) Professor of Communication Kathi Paluscio.

“Your success is related to your work ethic,” Paluscio said. “Precise preparation is necessary if you want to be successful in your interview.”

Paluscio delivered the lecture “Games People Play: The Modern Day Job Interview,” on Oct. 9 to an enthusiastic crowd in the Communications Building Oct. 9 as part of MCCC’s fall Distinguished Lecture series. She broke the ice by starting her presentation with a prank: making attendees believe she would pick members of the audience to be part of a mock interview demonstration. Amid the group panic, she revealed an important point to remember when preparing for a job interview.

“I did that for a reason,” Paluscio said. “This is nothing compared to where your anxiety level will go on the day when you interview for your dream job.”

The prank worked, and set the stage for an engaging session designed to prepare future job seekers. Paluscio kept the session interactive and exciting, while packing it with strategies and tips to ace the next job interview.

Paluscio, who works with numerous Mercer County organizations as an interview trainer, emphasized that when seeking one’s dream job, competition will be high. Standing out, she said, is one of the most important things to do, as potential employers will put interviewees through hoops and play games to find out things without having to ask.

“Every time an employer hires you, they’re taking a risk,” Paluscio said. She then provided five tips to help land that dream job:

  • Learn the art of pause. Learning the art of pause is not easy; however, it will be one of the most useful skills that you can have, Paluscio said. Choosing when to take a pause and not let it decide on its own is key. “Chosen pauses are not a sign of weakness; they are a sign of strength,” Paluscio stresses. “Some things you can say will buy you time to think of the right answer, showing that you genuinely care about the interview. It is okay to ask for a moment to think about the answer.”
  • Recreate the context ahead of time, so it is not unfamiliar. The importance of context in all forms of communication is stressed when preparing for your interview, Paluscio said. “If you communicate the wrong thing or the right thing in the wrong context, it will fail,” she says, adding that physical and psychological noise can impact the success of the context, especially if it’s unfamiliar. Paluscio said that it is essential to prepare for a professional interview in a professional setting to learn and understand how it will feel during the real interview, with the goal of walking into the situation knowing what you’re going to see.
  • Prime yourself to be a powerful person in the room. Paluscio notes that it is worth the time to remember when you were confident and powerful, and to translate those qualities into actions. She recommends that during the interview, to match the body language of the employer to make them more comfortable.
  • Have a story connected to every skill listed on your resume. Paluscio said that for every skill set listed on your resume, it is necessary to have a short story that defends that skill, and to ensure that the story displays how you faced a challenge, took action, and received a favorable result. She said that some favorable results that employers like to hear are money, time, efficiency, and retaining a customer.
  • Ask Questions. Before your meeting, research the company that you’re applying to, Paluscio said. This includes looking for recent new additions to the company, changes, or future goals. She suggests that interviewees ask questions that reflect their research to create a connection with the interviewer. She suggests that if you receive an illegal question, turn it around: pause, smile, and ask them to rephrase the question while acting like you did not understand it the first time.

Before any interview it is necessary to prepare, Paluscio said, noting that keeping a positive and confident attitude about your interview will help keep nerves at bay.

“You can control the conversation more than you think,” she said. “Ensure that you’re aware of your verbal and nonverbal communication. It’s not only about what you say, but how you say it and how your body language reflects it.”

That, she said, will take you one step closer to making that dream job a reality.

“Creating a connection with the employer will help them remember you,” Paluscio said.

For more information on MCCC’s Distinguished Lecture Series, call (609) 570-3324 or visit


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MCCC Professor of Communication Kathi Paluscio delivers her lecture “Games People Play: The Modern Day Job Interview” on the West Windsor Campus Oct. 9.