Whether you’re having informal chats at a career fair or a formal, one-on-one interview, you need to prepare to represent yourself well.
Before an interview or career fair
Research companies of interest
For each company that interests you, know the basics:
- Products, services, customers, markets, etc.
- Organizational structure and size
- Mission, goals, and values
- Positions offered/career paths and types of jobs
- Locations of offices, headquarters, etc.
- Marketing campaigns and competitors
- CEO and other upper-level management
Look for background information in the following places:
- Company websites
- Company’s annual report and press releases
- Professional journals, magazines, and other publications
Determine how you could fit
- If you are applying for a specific job, learn as much as you can about it.
- Be able to articulate why you are interested in a specific company.
- Match your qualifications to the company.
Prepare an Elevator Pitch
Prepare a 30-second introduction for yourself. Include:
- Your name
- Your year in school and major/minor
- Career goals or interests
- What makes you unique (club involvement, leadership, work experiences, etc.)
- End on a question specific to whom you are speaking with
Example for Creating a Winning 30 Second Elevator Pitch
- (Who are you?) Hello, my name is ______ (offer handshake)
- (Mention a link if you have one) ________ suggested I contact you.
- (Connect yourself to them by mentioning some personal information) I am a ______ studying _________. OR I am interested in ___________.
- (Schmooze a little – acknowledge that you know a bit about them or have a mutual interest) I see/understand that you ______. I admire what you have done with ____. The _____ with _______ is very interesting.
- (Ask a leading question) What can you tell me about ________? I would like to hear more about _________.
- Thank you for your time. (Get contact info!) Do you have a business card? Here is my card. (Offer your info) I would love to talk with you more about this. This is great information. May I contact you later?
- Practice answering questions with a mock interviewer and/or yourself in the mirror
- Prepare three or four stories/experiences that illustrate your past performance using the STAR approach:
- Situation: Describe the specific situation that you were in. This can be from a previous job, a volunteer experience, or any relevant event.
- Task: Describe the task you needed to accomplish. What was the goal?
- Action: Describe the action you took and keep the focus on what you did.
- Results: Explain the results you achieved. What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn?
- Have two or three questions prepared to ask each representative individually.
Questions that interviewers may ask you
- Tell me about yourself.
- What is your most important accomplishment to date?
- What motivates you?
- Why should I hire you?
- Tell me about some of your recent goals and what you did to achieve them?
- What do you see yourself doing five years from now?
- What major problem have you had to deal with recently?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- If I were to ask one of your professors or a boss to describe you, what would they say?
Questions that you might ask your interviewers
- What do you like best about your job?
- What do you like best about this company?
- What is the most important quality you are looking for in a candidate for this position?
- What are your expectations for the person you hire?
- What do you see as the main priorities of this position?
- What do you see as the main challenges for this position?
- Do you offer a training program? If so, can you explain it?
- What are the advancement opportunities for this position and the typical time frame for advancement?
- What makes this company/organization different from others?
- What would a typical day be like in this position?
- Where do you see the company headed in the next 3–5 years?
- Can you explain your organizational structure?
- How would you describe your corporate culture?
- I’m excited about this position. What are the next steps in the hiring process?
- What is your timeline for making this hiring decision?
Follow up and Thank You Cards
Send the interviewer an email or handwritten thank-you card within 48 hours. Doing so solidifies your interest in the position, demonstrates your professionalism, and distinguishes you from other candidates.
- Use an appropriate “business-style” card
- Send the card so the employer receives it within two or three days
- Thank the recruiter for their time and prompt consideration
- Don’t talk about yourself (except to briefly mention something important you forgot to say in person)
- Write in a professional and formal manner—no slang or abbreviations
- Keep it simple and brief
- Address the card to the specific individual you talked to using Mr. or Ms.
- If you met multiple people, write to each of them an individual card
- Have someone proofread your cards to avoid errors
Schedule a Mock Interview
Make an appointment with a CCB Career Consultant on Handshake to schedule a mock interview.