Thursday, September 22, 2011

Campus Recruiting is Upon Us (and you!)

I’ve been spending a lot of time on campuses lately and its hard to believe that we are in the recruiting season once again!  Here are a couple of pointers for you folks seeking interviews and ultimately job offers!

  • Establish your criteria for a range of companies that you think you want to work for and tailor your preparation accordingly.  If you are looking at different technology companies or comparing big and small consultancies, make sure you’ve thought through why you want to work at a particular firm.  Remember the objective is to get an offer not evaluate options during the interview!
  • Resist the temptation to compare and contrast the pluses and minuses of Company A over Company B before you get deeply into the interview process.  Your job is to get an offer (hear the theme!).  Keep in mind that if you don’t have an offer, you don’t have a decision to make.  I often talk to students who are deep into the evaluation process before they have an offer.  Big mistake.  You can’t evaluate without exploring the negatives at every company and doing this before you have an offer sends negative signals.
  • Prepare for your interview.  Many will give you the obvious things – know what they do for a living, read the 10K, visit their website, have something intelligent to say etc.  My problem with this advice is that it makes you sound like everyone else.  How about:
    • What is the GPA criteria?  Are you in the window?  Be honest.
    • What do you look at on our transcripts? Did you take classes that didn’t challenge you?
    • How many interview slots is the company staffing? Who am I competing with?
    • How many students do they want to recruit from your school?  If they have a high target, your chances increase.
    • Who is the person who will be interviewing you?  What is their background?  Don’t be asking the “what do you do at company X” if they are running the office where you might be working!
    • What connections can I make? Can I network before my interview to give the interview team a positive  view of you and your accomplishments?  Are they on campus?  Did you go to all of the events?
  • Practice, Practice, Practice – if you are not role playing with friends or signing up for mock interviews, you are making a mistake.  Don’t let it be coming out of your mouth for the first time in an interview.  Grab your buddies and have them role play with you.
  • Tell Stories – as you review your own resume, make sure every item has a story that you have identified and practiced.  Interviewers are assessing you as a cultural fit and trying to determine if you can do the work they are defining for you.  People learn through stories.  Even if you have gaps in your resume, make sure you have a story about it – not an excuse!
  • Define the company’s process?  Don’t leave the interview without understanding the hiring process?  Most day one interviews are to designed to eliminate candidates and get to a short list.  You should know when offers will be made.  Most schools require companies to leave those offers open for a period of time.
  • Understand your options?  Once you get an offer (hopefully) you’ll begin to look at start dates, locations and benefits.  All of these things have variables.  Some things are negotiable and some are not.  Understand that before you make the call.
  • Tap into your alumni network – if it is a reputable company, they have probably recruited at your school before.  Talk to your career counselors and see if you can track them down.  Talk to the folks who joined last year, not just those who have been there for 10 years.  Exercise creativity in finding the answers you are looking for.

This is a wonderful time in your college career, but many forget that the reason they went to college, was to prepare for this season.  Take it seriously!  Work hard!  Be consistent!  Remember to network!  Review previous blogs in this area.  Stay tuned for a criteria for decision making!

Good luck!

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