When you’re about to have an on-campus interview, it can be a bit intimidating. You’ve spent a lot of time crafting your resume and cover letter, but now you’re in a room with someone who’s going to ask you questions about yourself and what you want out of life. It can be nerve-wracking! Don’t worry—interviewing is something we all have to do at some point in our lives, so consider this post your crash course on how to rock your next one.
The better prepared you are for an on campus interview, the more confident you’ll be when talking with potential employers. If you know what questions they might ask (and why), then it will be much easier for them to understand if there’s anything else they need to know about you as well as what kind of person they’d be working with!
In this post we’ll look at four ways that will help prepare you on campus interviews this year.
First things first though – what is an on campus interview? How is it different from a regular interview?
An on campus interview generally means that your school has partnered with specific employers to interview for specific jobs at your campus. Generally, based on your school’s expertise, community relationships, and academic reputation, employers will try to connect with your school. This is a good thing for you as a student. It means that the employer is taking time out of their busy schedule to interview students from your school. Consider this better than a regular interview, and say thank you to your school for the advantage!
With that – let’s get into it.
Prepare Yourself Both Internally and Externally.
Preparing for on-campus interviews can be a daunting task, but it’s an important step in landing your dream job. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that you’re well-prepared for your next interview.
- Dress to impress! First impressions matter – even on video calls. With “Causal Fridays” and “No Tie Policies,” it can be easy to think that appearance no longer matters. However, how you present yourself sets the tone for the rest of the interview, and if you are selected your future career. Whether in person or via video, you want to come off as clean, calm, and collected. Eliminating focus on your exterior allows for the conversation to focus on your zone of genius and what you have to offer.
- Next, make sure that your resume, LinkedIn, website, and portfolio are up-to-date. If it’s not, update it! Make sure that the work you are showing is relevant to the position you’re applying for. You should also make sure that your portfolio contains a variety of different types of projects—not just one or two. This will help show off your diversity and ability to adapt to different situations and challenges in an effective manner.
- Conduct research on the company and/or school: Before going into any interview, it’s important to do some research so that you feel confident and familiar with your potential future employer. This could mean reading a website, reaching out to someone who works there, or reading an industry newspaper. These actions provide context to questions asked during the interview process. If you play your cards right, you can even show off your interest in the company and your future team.
- Get to know your company and interviewer beforehand. You can do this by looking up their background and experience, or getting in touch with them through LinkedIn. You should also find out what they are looking for in an employee. This way, you’ll be able to tailor your resume and portfolio accordingly and really show off what makes you suitable for the position. Also make sure that you have some kind of understanding of the culture at the company or organization—it will help give context to what they say during the interview process as well as allow you to ask questions that demonstrate interest in learning more about it!
- Practice answering common interview questions: We all know how stressful interviews can be, especially when there isn’t much time between applications and deadlines have passed! To make things easier on yourself, try practicing answering common questions such as “Tell me about yourself” or “What makes you unique?” The more comfortable you are with being asked these types of questions before actually being asked them face-to-face will make it less scary when someone does ask them! Pro-tip – have your “pitch” memorized in different time increments – 10 seconds, 60 seconds, and 2 minutes.
- Prepare for behavioral based responses: Behavioral based interviewing is one type where employers want candidates who’ve shown themselves capable of handling certain situations at work (examples include working well under pressure or making decisions) rather than just having knowledge about those situations from schoolwork alone.
- Find connections between yourself, the interviewer, and the company. Whether that be a personal connection or a professor in common, the interviewers assigned to schools may have connections with your campus. If you can find those connections, you increase the chances of having a warm interview.
When answering interview questions, highlight your notable achievements as examples.
So you’ve done your homework, and you’ve practiced your answers to the most common interview questions. You’re ready for an on-campus interview.
You walk into the room, shake hands with the interviewer and sit down. He or she starts asking questions about your background as well as specific information about the position at hand. Do not be afraid to talk about your achievements! You should never just say that you did something; instead explain how it was done and why it was important. This shows them that not only are you good at what you do but also that you have some insight into how things work at a larger scale.
Don’t be afraid to talk about any failures either—even if they fail in the eyes of others, these experiences often make us stronger! And don’t forget: questions are good! Even though this may not seem like an opportunity for candidates to ask questions during an interview (it’s generally more of a less formal Q&A session), go ahead and ask away! Asking any questions can be beneficial because it demonstrates confidence and shows interest in working with the employer.
When answering interview questions, use storytelling to “show” v. “tell.”
It’s important to realize that your interviewer isn’t watching you with a magnifying glass – they’re looking for the big picture. They want to see how you fit into the company they’re hiring for, and they want to see what makes you special. You can use storytelling to show this, by telling them about a time when you’ve succeeded in the past or when something made an impact on your life.
When you’re telling a story, make sure it’s concise and to the point. Don’t ramble on about something that has nothing to do with the question, just get right to the point. Be sure that your stories are relevant and interesting. If not, they won’t help you at all.
Engage with the company on social media channels before and after the interview.
You may think, “I’m not going to be able to get a job by just liking the company’s LinkedIn page, am I?” The answer is yes. Yes you can. In fact, showing that you are already interested in the company and what they do will help you stand out from other candidates who don’t seem as excited about working there.
If your social media profile shows that you live and breathe their culture, then during an interview it looks like your resume matches up with what they want from someone who works at their job – ideal!
You can prepare for on campus interviews by preparing, answering questions uniquely, storytelling, and engaging with the company.
I’m willing to bet you’ve had at least a few of these questions thrown your way:
- What’s your favorite movie?
- If you were a pizza topping, what would you be?
- How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?
Here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter how well you answer any one of those questions, what matters is that you’re able to show that you can think on your feet during an interview. Your goal should be to address common questions in ways that make sense for YOU and YOUR LIFE EXPERIENCE. In other words, don’t just regurgitate what someone else said or thought—be original! Weave responses back into why you are the BEST for the job.
There you have it! Four ways to prepare for on-campus interviews. If you follow these tips, you’ve increased the odds that you’ll walk away with a job offer in hand. Good luck!