The recruiting season for internships and full-time jobs will be starting very soon on campus. In a series of posts, I hope to highlight things applicants should pay attention to, based on my experience in college and serving on the recruiting team of my employer. This series is by no means an exhaustive list of what to do (workshops hosted by the career center will do a much better job). Instead, I will try to focus on specific actions that sometimes get overlooked but executing them well will increase your chance of landing the desirable positions. In this post, I am going to talk about three things – look the part, ask well-researched questions, and follow up.
Look the Part
Stick to the dress code in the recruiting events. The expectation is to wear business casual for information session (It doesn’t hurt to overdress.) and business professional for career fair. Recruiters meet a lot of candidates and they might spend only 3-4 minutes talking with each one, so they could be making some quick decisions on whether you are a strong candidate or not. Based on the way you dress, you would want him/her to immediately picture you working in the professional setting.
What’s more, look confident. Non-verbal languages, such as handshake and eye contact, affect more how we are perceived than verbal ones. If you are not confident, your behavioral cues will be picked up quickly by the recruiters. In college, initially, my identity as an international student created an internal hurdle – I didn’t have much work experience and now I needed to convince the recruiters in a language that is not my mother tongue to hire me over my American counterparts? “Fake it till make it” was the motto I follow. Plus, I assured myself that studying abroad already demonstrated my adaptability and willingness to lean into discomfort. I highly recommend watching Amy Cuddy’s TED talk “Your Body Language Shapes who You are” to get more confidence boosters.
Ask Well-Researched Questions
Once you pass the introduction stage, it is time to ask some specific questions on the company. I assume that you have already done the research, so you know what positions they are hiring and would not ask for any information that is readily available on the company website. I summarized my suggestion to be “statement + follow-up question”. The statement has two purposes – one, to introduce the follow-up question; two, more importantly, to demonstrate that you have done good research. I have listed out some good and bad examples of the questions.
Bad – How many different business units does your company have?
Good – Your company has multiple business units, such as X and Y. Which business unit are you involved in and what is your experience like?
Bad – How would you describe the culture of your company?
Good – Your company stresses community involvement and teamwork. Could you share some of your involvements?
If you are still interested after the conversation, ask if the company will be on campus for future events – when deciding who to invite to interviews, my company also considers candidates’ attendance at events to gauge their interests. What’s more, get his/her contact information in case you have questions in the future or you would like to grab coffee later. When speaking at recruiting events or career skill workshops, I have met a lot of students who asked to stay in touch, but not many followed through. If you do what you have committed to, you will stand out immediately among the candidate pool. Furthermore, in your email, it’s always appreciated to remind your contact when and where you met and highlights of the conversation.
Make a good initial impression by looking the part, show your interests in the company by asking well-researched questions, and further demonstrate the interests by following up in the future. By following these three steps, I am confident that you will be one step closer to getting the invites to interviews.