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ome people compare inter views to

e x a m s, a n d i n a w a y, t h e y a r e n o t
s o f a r o f f. L i ke exa ms, i n t e r v i ews p r ov i d e
a wa y t o a ss e ss yo u r s e l f h ow f a r yo u
h a ve c o m e a n d w h e r e yo u wo u l d l i ke t o
g o. T h ey a l s o p r ov i d e a wa y f o r o t h e r s
t o a ss e ss yo u. A n d l i ke exa ms, i n t e r v i ews
require preparation for good results.
Following are steps you can take to
a c h i eve i n t e r v i ew s u c c e ss .


Analyze the Position

You need to know exactly what you applying for. For example, if you are
interviewing to be a consultant, applications engineer, or a marketing analyst, be
aware of the typical job duties and qualifications for that position. At a minimum,
review a copy of the job description and highlight important qualifications. If you
are still unclear about the nature of the position, review occupational information
and conduct informational interviews to gain a better understanding of the type
of work you are pursuing.
Keep in mind that employers with lengthy qualifications statements rarely find
applicants strong in all areas, so do not get discouraged if you do not meet all of
the specified requirements.

Check Out the Employer

Returning to the exam analogy, investigating the employer is like getting to know
the style and preferences of the instructor. Learn as much as you can about the
employers purpose, services and/or products, where its branches are located
and what its future prospects are. Understand how this organization compares
with similar or competing organizations. The best place to start your research is
on the employers website. Information can also be obtained from:

Article searches
Attending company presentations/events
Networking with alumni/company employees
see p. 4, Researching Jobs and Employers.

Job Search Guide  2004-2005

Career Center Resources

Search for details
about these resources:
Preparing for Successful Interviews.
Workshop offered periodically.
Specialized Interviewing Programs
targeting specific populations, e.g.,
Interview Workshop for Engineering,
Computer Science and Physical
Science Majors.
In the Information Lab. Numerous
books about interviewing in the Job
Search section. Ask a counselor in
the Lab if recruiting employers have
evaluated your interview skills.
Videotaped Interview Workshop.
Opportunity to practice on camera and
receive feedback. Advance registration
on the website required.
Mock Interviews with employers to
practice your interview skills at the
beginning of every academic year.
Sign-up on the website.
Article Archives on our website contain
articles about interviewing.
Career Counselors. Individual help
through a 15-minute mini-appointment
or 45-minute regular appointment.

Why is this step so important? Research

will help you formulate thoughtful
questions. Through networking you can
often learn about key organizations
in your field of interest and pick up
difficult-to-obtain inside information.
With this information, you will be better
able to explain why you are particularly
interested in working for the employer. In
some cases, understanding the employer
will let you know that you dont want to
work for it.

Review Your Qualifications

Now that you know all about the position
and the employer, its time to assess how
your past experiences have prepared
When reviewing your qualifications,
consider all experiences valuable even if
they do not directly relate to the position.
Review the following:

Work experience
Volunteer experience
Class projects
Student group experience
Interests and hobbies

be useful for assessing your facial


Ask a friend or family member to

pretend they are an employer, ask
you a list of questions, and give you

Video or audio tape your responses

and review your performance. Ask
yourself: how can I improve, did I
look/sound relaxed, and did I sound

Avoid feeling like you have to be perfect

or that you have to memorize answers.
The goal is to become familiar with the
process of presenting yourself to others
and to give the impression that you have
given thought to important questions.
Through practice, you will become more
comfortable and you will polish your

Get your references ready
before interviewing. Contact
your references and let them
know what you are doing and
alert them to the possibility of
being contacted by an employer.
Share your resume with your
Employers will sometimes phone
or email your references after
they have interviewed you, so
bring your list of references with
contact information with you to
your interviews.


Employers will draw conclusions about the type of person you are and your future
potential as an employee based on the impression you make as you walk into the

For each experience, identify the skills

and areas of knowledge you used.
Also, be able to say how the experience
has prepared you to contribute to an


Be on time! Even better, be early.


Introduce yourself with a firm handshake.


Unless otherwise directed by the employer, dress conservatively for oncampus interviews. Men should wear a dark suit and conservative tie.
Women should wear a dark-colored suit. No miniskirts, trendy outfits, or
loud colors allowed.

Practice, Practice, Practice!


You may dress in Business Casual for interviews only if the employer
indicates this is appropriate. Search the Career Center website for Business
Casual descriptions. Make sure your clothes are cleaned and pressed.


Dont chew gum or wear too much fragrance.


Style your hair neatly and keep it off your face. Grooming is always more
important than what you wear.


Wear dark, polished conservative shoes with closed toe and heel. Men
should wear long, dark socks and women should wear dark or nudecolored nylons.


Minimize jewelry. Women should wear no more than one pair of small
earrings. No additional body piercings.


Carry a briefcase or portfolio if you like. Women can avoid carrying a

purse this way, but do not put your belongings on the interview table.
Leave your backpack in the waiting room.

If you study for your exam, you stand

a much better chance of getting a
good grade. The same logic applies to
interviews. Practicing your responses to
specific questions will make you feel more
at ease with your responses and, in turn,
will make you more confident.
So, how do you practice? Try the following

Practice saying your responses

out loud to interview questions.
See p. 46. Answering potential
questions in front of a mirror can

10. Leave cell phones and pagers out of the interview room or turn them off
before you walk in.

Employers will ask job applicants
questions that help them determine if they
will offer you a position. Their concerns

Are You Focused?

Are You Qualified for This

Do you have the skills and abilities to
perform successfully in this position?
Do you understand the nature of this
position? How do you operate in a
work environment; for example, how
do you make decisions, get along with
co-workers, and communicate? Some
examples of questions that address this
concern include:

Can you articulate your career goals and

how your skills, interests, and background
support your career interests? Do
your future plans match those of our
organization? Some examples of
questions that address this concern
What are your career plans?

Why should I hire you?

What do you see yourself doing in

five years?

What can you offer us?

Describe your ideal job.

What other positions
interviewing for?



Do you plan to return to school for

further education?
What classes did you enjoy most/
least and why?
Why are you pursuing this field?

Do You Know About Our

Have you taken the time to learn about
this organization? Do you consider the
work we do as important and interesting?
Some examples of questions that address
this concern include:
Why are you interested in our
Why did you sign up to interview for
our organization?
Where do you see yourself fitting in?
What do you know about our
How do you feel about traveling or
relocating as part of your job?
In what type of setting do you do your
best work?
Job Search Guide  2004-2005

Tell me about yourself.

What have you learned from some of
the jobs you have had?
Tell me about three accomplishments
that you are most proud of.

Why did you decide to attend the

University of California, Berkeley?
Why did you choose your major?
What have you learned from your
Tell me about your greatest strengths
and greatest weaknesses.
Do you prefer to be directly supervised
or to work independently?
How does your background relate to
this position?
What motivates you to do good
What qualifications do you have that
make you feel that you would be
successful in this position?
How would a former supervisor
describe you?

Behavioral Interview
Behavioral interviewing is popular with
many employers and something you
must prepare for. It is based on the
premise that past behavior best predicts
future behavior. For example, if you have
shown initiative in a club or class project,
the belief is that you are likely to show

Being comfortable with yourself is
You should always be very prepared
for the questions you know you will
be asked: Why this kind of work?
Why this organization? What have
you done in the past that would
make us want to hire you?
Make sure the objective on your
resume matches the position we are
interviewing for. We are looking for
clear focus on your part.
If you didnt look at our website, we
will not hire you.
We expect you to attend our oncampus
You should make an assertive effort
to market yourself, as in, This is
what I have to offer you.
The depth of your answers and the
depth of your questions are both
important. You should have examples
on the tip of your tongue.
We look for times in which you
had an idea, pursued it, lobbied for
resources, and organized a team to
get the work done.
We look for high energy, ability
to turn on a dime and experience
meeting deadlines. We also look
for people who we would enjoy
hanging out with at an airport
during a snowstorm.

initiative when you are working for

the employer that is interviewing you.
Before an interview, each position is
assessed by the employer for the skills
and characteristics that relate to job
success. Then interview questions
are developed to determine if you
have demonstrated these qualities
in your past behavior. The interview
will focus on skill areas that are most
important to the employer.

Business Casual attire is often acceptable
for employer information sessions and
campus career fairs. Is it okay to wear
this attire to an interview? If you are
absolutely positive the company culture
is casual and feel that wearing a suit to
the interview would be overkill, you may
wear business casual in the interview. But
if you have any doubt at all, wear a suit.
Dressing too casually can prevent you
from getting an offer!
The business casual look ranges from
slacks or skirts to khakis. It includes a
collared shirt and trousers, a shirt or
sweater with a skirt, or coordinated
separates. Low-heeled shoes and loafers
are acceptable business casual items.
Jeans, tennis shoes, T-shirts, sweatshirts,
shorts and miniskirts do not qualify as
business casual.

You should respond to behavioral

interview questions by giving a specific
example where you have already
demonstrated the skill that the interviewer
is looking for. You may find it helpful
to remember the mnemonic CAR in
composing a concise and thoughtful
response to an interviewers question.
Heres how it works:
Tell the Context in which you
exercised a desired skill or strength.
What was the problem, need, or
concern? Include obstacles you had
to overcome.
Explain the Action you took. This does
not mean what the group did, but
what you did. Practice I instead of
We statements; assume ownership
of your accomplishments.
Describe the Results and positive
benefits you achieved. Quantify the
results and relate your skills, action
and results to the employers needs
when possible.
How do you know what skills are
important for a particular position so you
can prepare targeted examples?

Read the job description.


Read occupational information that
describes which skills are used in
different functional areas.
Ask the question at on-campus
Employer Information Sessions.
Ask alumni working in the same

Your main objective, while you are

thoroughly researching your field and
specific firms should be to identify
the skills, attributes and experiences
highly valued for the particular position
you will be interviewing for. Then you
should review past experiences for your
accomplishments. An accomplishment is
a concise statement outlining how you
have used your skills and knowledge
to accomplish a positive result.
Accomplishments can be found in all
parts of your life:

Academics, including class projects.

Sports (Will your goal-orientation
transfer to your career? What did you
learn about being a team player?)
Activities (Have you published a story,
given a speech, or marched in the Cal
Volunteer or work experiences (When
did your performance exceed past
performance? Achieve something
new? Make things easier? Saved or
made money?)

People well-trained in this interviewing

technique will not let you get away with
a general or vague answer. They will
keep asking you for specific details on
your approach to past situations and the
results of your efforts such as:
What were you thinking at that
What did you do next?
Tell me more about that.
How did you gain support?
Lead me through your decisionmaking process.
What were the final results of your
For example, a skill often mentioned

as important for management

consulting is strong analytical
or problem-solving ability. In a
behavioral interview you might
be asked:

What is the toughest analytical

problem you have faced?
How did you solve it?
How do you gather information
to analyze problems? Give
me an example.
Describe an instance when
you had to think on your feet
in order to extricate yourself
from a difficult situation.

Prepare ahead of time a few

illustrative examples of problems
you have solved. For each,
outline the 57 main steps
involved in solving the problem,
the alternatives you considered,
and the results you obtained.

Examples of
Behavioral Interview
Interpersonal skills
When working on a team
project, have you ever had an
experience where there was
strong disagreement among
team members or a team
member didnt do their part?
What did you do?
encounter with someone?
How did you deal with that
Give me an example where
you mediated a conflict.
Tell me about a time when you
had to be assertive.
Communication skills
Tell of a time when your active
listening skills really paid off.
Tell me about a time when
you had to present complex

you ensure that the other person

Describe a situation in which you were
able to use persuasion to successfully
convince someone to see things your
Tell me about a time in which you had
to use your written communication
skills in order to get across an
important point.
Give an example where you
pushed yourself to do more than the
Tell me about projects you have
initiated. What prompted you to
begin them?
Give an example of a situation that
could not have happened successfully
without you being there.

where you successfully led a group.

Discuss situations where you have
turned ideas into action.
Tell me about a time you had to lead
people who did not want to be led.
When did you provide a solution that
was outside the box?
What is the most creative thing you
have done?
Decision making
Give an example of a time you had to
make a difficult decision.
Describe a time you had to defend
your decision.
Summarize a situation where you
had to seek out relevant information,
define key issues, and determine the
steps to get a desired result.


Ask questions.
Back-translate: hitting the highlights,
repeat the question back to the
Take notes.
Ask what the client companys true
objective is.
Organize your answers and manage
your time.
Think before you speak.
Listen to what is being said between the
Brainstorm and be creative.
Describe out loud the logic you are
Show enthusiasm and a positive attitude.

Planning and organization

How do you determine priorities in
scheduling your time? Give me an
Give me an example of an important
goal that you set in the past. Tell me
about your success in reaching it.
Describe a situation when you had
many projects or assignments due at
the same time. What steps did you
take to get them all done?
Describe a situation in which you
were able to overcome a personality
conflict in order to get results.
Describe a time where you were faced
with problems or stresses that tested
your coping skills.
Tell me about a time when you
influenced the outcome of a project
by taking a leadership role.
Describe your leadership style and
give me an example of a situation

Job Search Guide  2004-2005

Case Interview Questions

In the case interview, the interviewer will
present you with a complex problem
involving issues or situations that are not
likely to be familiar. You will be asked
to formulate a solution to the problem
under tight time constraints. Consulting
firms often use the case approach. While
primarily an analytical exercise, an
interviewer uses a case to gauge your
comfort level with problem solving, your
curiosity about the problem at hand, and
your ability to cogently articulate your
insights. There are two primary types of
case interviews:
1. Guess the number problem
These questions are designed to determine
how logically and quickly you can think
on your feet and to see whether you think
before you speak. An example is: How
many disposable diapers were sold in
the US last year? There are no right
answers. You must work off assumptions.
These might include:

The population of the US is

250 million.

The average household size is

2.5 people.

There are 100 million

households in the U.S.

The mean household income

is $35,000.

The US Gross Domestic

Product is $6 trillion.

2. Business case problem

The second type of case is more
analytically focused and tries to gauge
your comfort and confidence with
numbers. To understand these cases, you
will often need some understanding of
the numbers that validate the hypotheses.
An example of a business case problem
is: Savannah Janes is a convenience
store franchise located in Needham,
MA, across the street from the Hersey
commuter railroad station. Needham has
a population of 28,000. In the town there
are four convenience stores. Savannah
Janes wants to increase sales and profits.
What would you do to help them?
Further suggestions for responses to
case interview questions are discussed
in books in the Business section of the
Career Center Information Lab.


How do companies evaluate

your case interview
To get a sense of your level of creativity
and common sense the interviewer will
be judging your ability to:

conceptualize problems

make assumptions

develop innovative solutions

to business situations
see patterns
generate hypotheses
draw conclusions from only
partial information.

Your analytic ability will be assessed

based on how well you:

provide structure to
unstructured problems

simplify problems into their

individual components

apply transparent and logical

thinking to each component

synthesize all of the pieces

into a logical solution.

To score well in the poise and enthusiasm

category you must:

seem excited by the case

assimilate information quickly

and effectively

ask insightful questions.

not be intimidated by the


Case interview preparation

Read the Wall Street Journal,

The Economist or other
business journals; focus on
articles discussing specific
companies or industries.

Familiarize yourself with

introductory microeconomics.

Read the first few chapters of

Competitive Strategy by
Michael Porter.

Develop a framework in which

to evaluate problems (such as
profits = revenue-cost).

Think about products and

services that you use on a
day-to-day basis; how do they
reach the market? What
criteria do you use when
buying products?

Practice cases with friends


Tips for Answering Difficult

When encountering a difficult question,
pause for a moment and ask yourself,
What is the interviewer really looking
for? A few examples follow:
Tell me about yourself. This is a commonly
asked question that often puzzles
applicants. Keep your comments focused
on information that will help the employer
determine your qualifications and/or
interest in this position. This can include
your future career aspirations, what you
have gained from your education and/
or experiences and your enthusiasm for
beginning a job in your field of interest.
What are your greatest strengths and
weaknesses? Interviewers ask this
question to determine how insightful you
are and how positive your self-image is.
View this as an opportunity to point out
strengths that relate to being successful
in the position for which you are
interviewing. Back up your statements
with examples of experiences in which
you have demonstrated your strengths.
Strategies for addressing a weakness
(and only mention one) include choosing
one you have overcome, or selecting an
area/skill that you have not had much
time to develop or an area that is not that
important to the demands of the work.
Employers are impressed by people who
can recognize and overcome personal
Why did you choose to attend the
University of California, Berkeley?
Employers ask this question to determine
your decision-making style. Tell them
about the research that went into your
decision, how you narrowed your options
and what you hoped to gain from your
education at Cal.

Note: if you feel that you have

been asked an inappropriate
question, such as one relating
to your age, ethnic background,
national origin, or marital/
family status, please discuss your
concerns with a Career Center

By asking employers well
thought-out questions, you have
the opportunity to demonstrate
your interest in working for their
organization. Also, if given an
offer, you will be more able to
make an intelligent decision
about whether or not to accept.
Formulate your questions while
researching the organization and
the industry/field. Familiarity
with the career field in general
and specific knowledge about
the employer will impress your
interviewer tremendously.
Normally you would ask
questions when it is appropriate
during the course of the interview,
and typically the interviewer will
ask you if you have questions at
the end of the interview. Though
questions will vary with each
interview, the following are
some possible general questions
to ask, especially if you do not
completely understand the job
What is the most difficult
aspect of this job?
What are the best/worst
aspects of working in this
group/ organization?
challenge facing this group/
organization right now?
How would you compare
your organization with your
major competitors? What
are your plans for expansion



Practice good eye contact with

the interviewer.


Express your genuine interest





Listen carefully by focusing

and giving your full attention
to the interviewer and the
question being asked.
Be specific and give examples.
This adds credibility to
statements you make about
your qualifications. It is better
to make a few strong points
than many brief, unrelated
Organize your thoughts,
communicate. The employer
may not necessarily be looking
for the right response to a
question but is analyzing how
you respond.


Its OK to pause to collect your

thoughts and if need be, ask
for clarification. Avoid uh,
like and you know!


Do not diminish your past

experiences; dont say, I was
just a cashier.


An apparent challenge to
your qualifications may not
be a rejection, but rather a
call for more information.

in terms of product lines, services,

new branches, etc.?
How would you describe the
management style in this organization?
How are decisions made?
What are some typical first-year
assignments? What is the career
path for my position? How does
this position fit into the overall
organizational structure?
Exactly what kind of background are
you looking for?

Job Search Guide  2004-2005

What kind of training is given to new

Do you have any concerns about my
background that I can answer now?
As a general rule, questions about salary
and benefits are best left until a job offer
has been extended.

After you have finished your questions,
you will probably hear a comment similar
to, Well, if you dont have anything
else, that should be all for today. Thanks
for coming. This is an opportune time
to make a strong closing statement by
summarizing your qualifications and
expressing your interest in the position.
Heres a sample script to get you started
on your own personalized closing:
This sounds like an exciting
opportunityjust the kind I am
looking for. I believe my (insert
your most relevant strengths and
experience here) make me a good
candidate for this position. I look
forward to the next step in the
selection process.

The most typical interview is one-on-one:
one interviewer and you, the applicant.
Other types of interviews include:
Panel: more than one person
interviews you at the same time.
Group: you are not the only applicant
in the room. Usually a group of
candidates is interviewed by a panel.
Meal: you are interviewed while
eating, usually over lunch.
Working: you are actually put to work
and observed.
Most interviews consist of a mix of
questions that depends on the position
and organization. There will typically

be some general questions, some

behavioral questions, and some
case questions (especially for
business/analytical positions).

Telephone Interview
Telephone interviews may be used
by employers in another part of
the country during the preliminary
stages of the selection process.
Increasingly, employers are using
the telephone interview on a local
basis. Sometimes, in addition to an
on-campus interview, the employer
conducts phone interviews as a
second screening before inviting
you to an on-site interview. Dont
underestimate the importance
of making a positive impression
during the telephone interview.
Schedule the interview at a time
when you can give it 100% of your
attention. Take the phone call in a
quiet place. Jot down ahead of time
key points you want to make and
questions you want to ask. Keep a
copy of your resume and the job
description near the phone. Ask
for clarification of questions being
asked, if necessary, and think out
your responses clearly before you
answer. Always present the best of
your background and show your
enthusiasm for the position.

On-Site or Second
You made a good impression
during your first interview and
appear to be a good fit for the
job and the organization. Now
you have received an invitation for
a second or callback interview
at the employers site.
Before you go
Ideally, plan to visit only one
organization per day.
If traveling out of the area, will the
company make reservations for
you (airline, hotel, rental car)?

If you are responsible for travel

arrangements, consult a travel agency or
make your own reservations.
Verify the time, place and who you should
ask for on your arrival.
Most medium- and large-size companies
will pay your expenses; keep receipts.
If you are visiting two companies on
the same trip, be sure to prorate your
expenses so that the companies may
share the cost after your trip.

management style. How are decisions
made? Do they promote from within?
Are they involved in the community?



Dining with a potential employer

may seem more relaxing than
the actual interview, but this is
still part of the evaluation
process so continue to be on
your best behavior.

Some employers require you to pass one

or more tests after the initial interview:
personality, drug, or psychological tests.
You should direct any questions you have
about the tests to the employer.


conversation with company
representatives, try to find easy
topics of mutual interest. Avoid
controversial topics or careless

Before you leave the interview, make

sure you know how long it will be before
the employer responds. If the employer
does not respond within that time, you
may phone or email the person who
interviewed you to ask about your status.


Turn off your cell phone and

pager. Answering the phone or
checking your messages is
discourteous to your host.


The employer will be paying for

the meal, so follow their menu
recommendation(s) or order a
mid-priced meal.


Order a meal that is easy to

eat. Take small bites, do not talk
with your mouth full, and do not
gesture with your utensils.


Be very cautious about ordering

alcohol because you need to
remain alert during the entire
interview. The Career Center
recommends no alcohol and it
is always acceptable to
substitute mineral water for


Understand the table setting.

Your bread plate is on the left of
your place setting and your
water glass is on the right. Use
your utensils from the outside
in. If you are ever in doubt,
follow the example of your host
or other guests.


Place your napkin on your lap

as soon as you sit down. Should
you leave the table briefly place
the napkin on the chair. When
you leave at the end of the
meal, leave the napkin to the
left of your plate.


Be sure to talk with other guests

at the table.

Observe the work environment. What is

the atmosphere/physical setting like? Do
employees seem relaxed and friendly?
Will you be productive here?

Brush up on organization information.

Will you be interviewing for more than
one job? What are the job titles?
Jot down questions you may have.
Fill out employer forms and send them
in advance as well as bring copies with
Bring extra copies of your resume,
transcripts, and references.
Day of your visit
You will be provided with a schedule of
the days interviews including the name,
title and area of responsibility of the
persons with whom you will be talking.
Understand how each person relates to
the other. If you are not provided this
information, ask for it and take notes.
During the day you will most likely talk to
several people: your potential supervisor/
manager, your potential co-workers and
a human resources representative. You
may be asked many of the same questions
throughout the day. Be enthusiastic,
honest and consistent in your answers.
If you participate in any group activities,
your ability to work with people and
your fit in the organization is being
Ask questions that will demonstrate your
interest and knowledge of the organization.
Most firms hire by consensus. You will
need to win the approval of each person
who interviews you.

If you do receive a verbal offer and are

not ready to make a decision, ask for
written confirmation and tell the firm when
you expect to make a decision. Maintain
communication with the firm.
After your visit
Mail or email a thank you letter within
one or two days of the interview. Send
the letter to the person in charge of your
visit with copies to the others involved.
You should mention what you particularly
appreciated from the days activities and
your interests in both the job and the
A week after sending the letter, you
may contact the employer to show your
continued interest and ask if there is any
additional information you can provide.
If someone else is selected remember
that No does not always mean, You
were a bad candidate, we do not want
you, but may mean, For this particular
position we found another candidate who
we believe is a better match. Consider
calling or writing a letter that will show
your continued interest, especially if you
felt that you had good rapport with the

10. Thank your host for the interview

and meal. Be sure you know
what the next interview step will
be for you.

Thank you
for the Interview

110 Greenvale Road

Kensington, CA 94708
(510) 555-9876
April 2, 2005

Mr. Donald J. Brown

Administrative Coordinator
Business and Technical Personnel
Consolidated Engineering, Inc.
900 East Fourth Street
Sunnyvale, CA 95087

Dear Mr. Brown:

Thank you for the opportunity to spend last Thursday at your manufacturing facility in
Sunnyvale. The discussion we had was particularly informative. I found the tour of your
plant and the informal conversation with your engineering staff to be quite benecial.
I was impressed with the effective manner in which Consolidated Engineering has
adapted the management-by-objective system to their technical operations. This
philosophy suits my interests and training.
The entire experience has conrmed my interest in Consolidated Engineering, and I
look forward to hearing from you soon.


James S. Moore
James S. Moore

Job Search Guide  2004-2005