- On-campus interviews are opportunities to land positions.
- Know what employers are looking for and prepare in advance.
The on-campus interview lets you meet recruiters with job openings. If you want to make the most of this opportunity, you need a focus, to know of what the employer wants, to prepare the information you wish to share and to execute a winning game plan that sells your successes pertaining to the job opening.
Perhaps your interviewer has been asked to identify three graduates interested in field test engineering positions that need to be filled. He asks you what type of work you’d like to do after graduation. Clearly, he wants to know if you would enjoy and feel comfortable starting your career as a field test engineer. You reply that you’re just seeking an entry-level position. This response suggests a lack of focus and the key issue, where you’d like to start your professional career, has not been addressed.
Always have a focused job objective prior to any interview. It’s best if it’s closely related to your background and the job opening.
Sharpen your focus by answering the following:
- What do you like most?
- What do you do best?
- What gives you personal satisfaction?
What the Employer Wants
When you understand what the interviewer wants to know about you, you can effectively address the information sought. Interviewers may want to know such things as:
- What do you want to do?
- What in your background indicates you’re prepared for it?
- Are you an effective communicator?
- Are you good at teamwork?
Your objective is to make a good first impression: a firm handshake, good eye contact, confident body language, comfort in answering questions and knowing your career’s initial direction. Physical attributes will also influence the interviewer’s opinion of you. Nontraditional interview attire, nontraditional hair color, tattoos, body piercings, etc., also contribute to first impressions.
Prepare Information for Your Interview
Knowing what you want to do as you start your career, connecting past successes relating to the job opening and selling them in your interview will impress the interviewer and identify you as the best candidate. Your GPA is important, but providing evidence of skills, experience and capabilities will separate you from the others. Be prepared to prove your:
- Ability to work in teams and meet commitments.
- Experience with conflict resolution.
- Communication and interpersonal skills.
- Good work ethic.
- Decision-making skills and ability to set priorities.
- Practical experience.
Be sure to develop a list of past successes relating to these areas. They may include past projects, participation in student organizations, membership in professional societies, leadership examples, teaming activities, work experience (as a co-op or intern), participation in conferences or open houses and any out-of-class experiences that relate to business practice. Organize your successes having to do with your academic background, related experience, technical interests, leadership, career goals, interest in the company and communication.
It’s also a good idea to prepare questions that will help you decide if the opportunity is a good fit. Questions related to typical work assignments, the corporate culture, growth potential, team structure, new technologies, new products and travel may help you with the decision process.
Executing Your Winning Game Plan
Now that you’re focused, know what the interviewer wants and have identified your successes relevant to the job opening, you are ready to execute your game plan and sell those successes. Try using the STAR method to get you on your way:
- S: Describe the situation pertaining to the topic of discussion or the interviewer’s query.
- T: Explain the technique you used, your approach.
- A: Emphasize the action you took to solve the situation.
- R: Close with the result or outcome of the action taken.
Interweave short scenarios illustrating your successes using this method at appropriate times during the interview. This will demonstrate your background of successes, logically and effectively communicate that your successes relate to the job, and impress upon the interviewer that you should be a preferred candidate.
You’ve shared the information the interviewer’s looking for and have hopefully set a positive tone for a follow-up interview or site visit.