Categorized | College

Conquer the Campus Interview

Posted on 12 May 2009

What to do when companies come looking for you.

If the chance arises to score a job interview on your campus, jump at it. Run, don’t walk, and make whatever arrangements it takes. Acing an on-campus interview can save you dozens of job-searching headaches once graduation time arrives. You can enjoy your last few weeks of school and revel in the fact that you have a position lined up–while your friends are scouring the Internet and firing off cover letters.

Prep for Success

As any high school football coach will attest, success comes directly from preparation. The same goes for interviewing, albeit there are usually fewer tackling drills. You should have ample time to practice before your meeting, and that is exactly what you should do–in front of a mirror, with the help of a friend, or whatever. You’ll feel silly looking at yourself, spouting off about your strengths and weaknesses, but it will pay off. Going over routine interview questions will allow you to be on your game, helping you avoid awkward pauses and the “ums” and “likes” that come with them. If you are a creative type and want to show some work samples off, make sure they are in good shape. Don’t pull out a tattered manila envelope from your bag. There should be no wrinkles or coffee stains. In fact, you might want to splurge on a $10 portfolio. You may not be a professional yet, but at least you can look like one.

Dress the Part

Oh, the horror. If jobseekers only knew how much dress counts, they would wear tuxedoes to interviews. This is one part of the interview process where there is no good reason to screw up. But inevitably some people do. The problem is Friday. Casual Friday was once confined to one day–a brief chance to cut loose and dress down at the office. But this trend somehow escaped and infiltrated the rest of the workweek. The norm in many places is Casual Everyday.

You’ll feel silly looking at yourself, spouting off about your strengths and weaknesses, but it will pay off.

Don’t think that just because the place you are interviewing is lax with their dress code you can do the same. No matter how laid back and cool a company may seem, they want to know that they are hiring a professional–or at least someone who can look like one. Once you’ve signed on the dotted line, slip into the sandals and dust off the Hawaiian shirts. Until then, however, overdressing is the best advice. Think about it this way: If two candidates are clones when it comes to credentials, the one that gets the job will be the one who looks more professional. This has nothing to do with discrimination or bias. It has everything to do with dressing the part.

Show ‘Em What You Got

You should go into any interview with your guns blazing, figuratively speaking, but especially if it’s taking place on campus. A common challenge for jobseekers is overcoming the nervousness that hits prior to interviews. This is understandable; interviews are somewhat daunting. But this is your chance to hop into the driver’s seat and steal the show. It’s your school, so be comfortable and show some confidence. Without becoming cocky and arrogant, you should demonstrate to the interviewer that you are outgoing and eager. This will set a great tone for the rest of your meeting.

What you do is just as important as what you say. Keep these things in mind when it comes to body language: no fidgeting; no nail biting; keep your hands out of your pockets; and don’t slouch, slump, or sprawl–get comfy, but don’t lounge. Keep steady eye contact with the interviewers. They’ll think you are paying close attention. Try to show some energy: Avoid aerobic routines, but give your responses some life.

Case Closed

When the barrage of questions has stopped and the smoke has cleared, end the interview on a good note. Don’t be too cute or fancy. Remember, this is business, so keep it professional. When saying goodbye, make it quick and painless. Say thanks, shake hands, and follow his or her lead on where to go next. If they say, “we’ll be in touch,” respond that you look forward to hearing from them. Don’t gush about how nice the meeting was or how thankful you are for their time. While it seems polite, this could scrape away at your image and make you look desperate. When you get home, even before you change clothes, write (don’t type, too impersonal) a thank-you note–and keep it brief. It’s just another way to keep you fresh in their heads.

Then you can sit down, relax, and not worry too much about how you did. Just wait for the offers to start rolling in.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Ben says:

    The interview is extremely important. The career college admissions staff will be looking at alot of things. You want to be the same person that is represented in your admissions essay.

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