Interviewing on Campus with Skill and Confidence. (2001 Career Planning & Job Search Guide)

Article excerpt

While the on-campus interview is generally thought to be a senior thing, this article should offer some sound advice to any students who may find themselves in an interview situation. You may be preparing for an interview for a very prestigious internship, co-op, or just a summer job. Whether you are a first year student or a senior, you should be able to get something out of this article.

If there is one key to a successful interview, that key would be preparation. Preparation is the key to interviewing with skill and confidence. Think about how you feel when you are really prepared for a test. When you have studied the material and your notes, and you really know the material, you feel confident and ready. The same is true of the interview, study the material and you will ace the interview. What is the material? The material is you, the company and the job market.

Start from Within and Work Your Way Out

The first thing you need to do in preparing for the job interview is take a good look at yourself and try to determine what it is you want to do and why you want to do it. This is important because recruiters will ask you about your career aspirations during the interview. If you are not sure what it is you want to do, stay away from the interview until you come up with something that feels right for you. Far too many students enter the interview unprepared and then attempt to "wing it." If you are having difficulty determining what it is you want to do, you should visit the career center on campus and talk with a career counselor. Counselors are professionals who can help you sort out your skills, interests and values. Even if you don't know exactly what you want to do, don't panic. A self-assessment is absolutely essential to your preparation for the interview, and at the very least will help you understand how best to present your skills and experience. Entering the interview without a sense of what you w ant and what skills you have to offer will be a major blow to your confidence. Once you are able to articulate your career goals and how you would like to use your skills, you are well on your way to developing the confidence you need to handle the interview.

Do Your Homework

The next step in preparation for the interview is to gain knowledge of the industry and company you want to interview with. The career counselor should be able to help you link your skills and interests to specific industries. This will be your key to selecting the companies you want to interview with. Since you are a full-time student, it will be a challenge for you to manage your time for school and the interview. This is why it is so important that you develop a list of industries and companies you have an interest in early on in the process. Now this doesn't have to be a large list. It just needs to provide you with a starting point. This will allow you to focus your time and energy on your prime targets. Avoid the tendency to randomly apply for all openings at the career center. This random or "shotgun" approach is the one most often employed by students and is the source of most of their anxiety and frustration. It's more difficult and time-consuming to apply for everything and hope for something. Expe rienced recruiters can generally tell who the "apply for everything" people are, and usually are not impressed. They will probe to see if you have done your homework of researching their company. One of the best ways to prepare for the on-campus interview is to find out from your career center if the company plans to schedule an information session. Many companies use the information sessions as a way of introducing their organization to students. The sessions are very helpful as they cover such important topics as job responsibilities, company culture, benefits, and advancement and training opportunities. The information session is a great opportunity for you to ask questions that are important to you about work environment, typical workday and mentoring opportunities. …