Interview Accessories that Build Confidence

Now that we’re working with our 4th college graduation class, we realized it helps to have a checklist for interviews to insure you will have everything you need to be successful at Career Fairs, campus, and on-site interviews.

Here’s what we recommend:

  • Portfolio (black or brown, ideally leather, that includes pad of paper, pen and a place to store extra resumes and business cards
  • Business cards – we suggest students check their career center first as some universities offer this service. If not, head to (cheapest) or (more options). Better for sales, tech, and advertising so you can make a unique impression.
  • Extra resumes – always have 5-10 on hand, more for a career fair
  • Mints
  • Healthy snack bar – in case there was no time for lunch
  • Appropriate attire – check career center guidelines or confirm with employer’s HR contacts regarding expected attire for interviews and events

If you want to learn more about the content for business cards, please read our blog post: How to Create a Student Business Card

I Attended the Career Fair, Now What?

You survived the lines and jockeying for position to communicate your pitch and entered your contact information in an iPad. Now what?

Instead of waiting to hear from the company, now is a great time to take action with the companies you really liked and stand out.

5 steps to take after the Career Fair:

  1. Follow all the companies on social media (if you weren’t already)
  2. Email personalized Thank You’s highlighting something you talked about
  3. Connect with them on LinkedIn with a short custom message
  4. Search for people in the company that are doing the job you want and request an informational interview
  5. Discover other internships and job opportunities at each company be checking their website, LinkedIn, and other job search sites as companies typically have more opening than they interview for on campus

Finally, don’t give up! If you are confident you are a good fit for the company and role, build connections with many people across the company so they can become your internal sponsors.

Tips to Make the Most of an Informational Interview

It’s amazing what you can learn from someone who’s actually doing the job you want. People like to talk about their work. But before you reach out, prepare, so you make the most of the time.

  1. Set a clear goal for the call
  2. Develop a set of questions
  3. Be sensitive to their time (30 minutes max)
  4. Follow-up with personalized Thank You
  5. Most importantly, stay in touch so they can be your internal sponsor if you find a job at the company that fits!

How College Students Can Leverage LinkedIn for Career Fairs

With 450 million users on LinkedIn, including one out of every 3 professionals in the U.S., LinkedIn is the place to be for college students to get noticed. Yet, most students don’t leverage LinkedIn and use it to their advantage, especially as it relates to career fairs.


Check out these tips to stand out at your career fair:

  • Review the list of companies attending and send a personalized InMail to the college recruiter communicating your interest in the company and asking to connect
  • Once you’ve met company recruiters during the career fair, follow up with a personalized thank you
  • Send a customized connection request to additional company contacts you engaged with
  • Keep your contacts apprised on your job search process and send articles of interest or congrats for recent press to so they know you’re really interested in the company

Your friendly and consistent communication will help you stand out from all the other applicants.

What’s Your 60 Second Career Fair Pitch?

I know it’s hard to believe. You really can stand out from the crowd and make a memorable impression with a recruiter in 30-60 seconds with a well-rehearsed pitch.

Use this simple structure to create your own short authentic story.

1. Intro: Offer your name, a firm handshake, and give them a resume and business card
2. Objective: Why you’re there and what type of job you’re looking for
3. Summary: Briefly summarize education, experience, and interests
4. Closing: Reiterate your interest, thank the employer (get a business card if possible)

Best of luck and be sure to let us know how it went!

Dress the Part for Your Career Fair and Interviews

We’ve all heard the familiar adage, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” For better or worse, this is accurate, especially as it relates to career fairs and interviews.

As the world becomes more casual, it’s hard to determine when business professional or business casual attire is appropriate.

We’ve made it easy! Check out this great resource created by the McCombs Business School to learn everything there is to know about dressing the part along with pictures.

It’s a great way to guarantee that you will be judged on the your academic achievements, experience, and skills, not your attire.

Stand Out at Your Career Fair with Student Business Cards

Career Fairs are a challenge as there are so many people to meet and so little time! Make the most of your college career fair by presenting business cards to recruiters and hiring managers in addition to your resumes, as you will reap the benefits.

The benefits are many:

  • Recruiters know you planned ahead
  • More likely to get a business card in return
  • Easier to follow-up with since you have accurate contact information

Information to include:

  • University and college within it (if applicable)
  • Formal name
  • Major
  • Graduation month & year (great news- underclassmen can use them again)
  • Email address (use .edu email address as it identifies you as a student
  • Phone number

Where to purchase:

  • Check your career center first as many universities are providing this service
  • Vistaprint for inexpensive, yet professional cards
  • Moo for rounded corners and more template choice

Check out our example below

Remember, this shouldn’t be a wild and crazy exercise unless you’re pursuing an internship or job in a creative field. Even then, adhere to best design principles, as you want to be remembered for the right reasons!


Real Life: College to Career – Tyson

TysonRoss2Name: Tyson Ross
Age: 22
College and Graduating Year: Auburn University, May 2014
Current place of employment: Advanced Micro Devices Inc. (AMD)
Current place of residence: Austin, Texas
Hobbies and Interests: Exercising, Outdoors, Sports, Friends, Food

Q: Did you start college with a clear idea of what you wanted your major to be? If so, what did that look like and how did that change during your time in college?

A: I started college with the idea that I wanted to do something in business. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do specifically, but I had 2 years of general business courses to decide. When it came down to the time that I had to narrow my choices, I chose to follow the Finance/Accounting route because it offered the most advanced business courses available. At the start of my last year, I chose to focus my major solely on Finance, while pursuing a minor in Information Assurance (IT Database and Accounting). I enjoyed the forward-thinking approach in finance and became increasingly interested in capital markets. I chose my minor because I enjoyed the practicality of accounting and felt that the knowledge of database/accounting software would provide a nice backbone for a wide variety of careers in business.

Q: Can you walk me through the detailed step-by-step process that you went through to get your first job out of college?

A: I started applying for jobs at the beginning of my final semester at Auburn. I had a fairly extensive internship background in commercial real estate, but it was not something that I wanted to pursue as a career. I reached out to various connections including relatives, family friends and acquaintances who I knew worked in the finance industry. I knew that I wanted to work in Austin, which narrowed my search down to several companies, as many of the finance roles in Texas are located in Dallas and Houston. I had connections through family friends at AMD and also at Dell, so that is where I started. I was able to get my resume into the right hands at both companies, expediting the process by a couple of weeks. I had initial phone screenings at both companies and was told to wait 2-3 weeks for a response. During this waiting period, I applied for several other positions at various companies including GM, Dimensional Fund Advisors, and others. I had an initial phone screening with DFA and was able to secure an interview over the same weekend that I was flying back to interview with AMD. Over Easter weekend, I had interviews with both AMD and DFA. Both went very well. Within 6 weeks of my interview with AMD, I received an offer for employment. I accepted and began work within 2 weeks after that.

Q: What aspect of that process was most challenging or stressful for you? Looking back, what advice would you give to college students to make this aspect less challenging?

A: The hardest part for me was that I did not apply to enough places. Sure, I used Indeed and various other job search sites, but those will not get you very far in my experience. You have to get out there and meet people and make real connections. You will find that people actually want to help you. The more personal time you have with someone who is part of the hiring process, the better. I was lucky enough to secure a job while only interviewing with 5-6 companies. If I were to do it over again, I would start much sooner. I would try to secure an internship in a relevant field. I would spending the majority of my final year in school applying to tons of places, even if I had no intent of accepting, just to become better at the process. There are a lot of people who look good on paper but lack the necessary social skills to succeed in a personal interview situation.

Q: What was the biggest adjustment or adjustments for you going from college to full-time employment?

A: The biggest adjustment for me was the structure that was added to my life, which can be good or bad depending on how you like to live. In college, I had freedom every day to do whatever I wanted. Besides exams, there were rarely any important deadlines and time was limitless. Now, I come to work for a set amount of time each day, do my job, and then go home to my personal life. I have grown to enjoy the new structure in my life and it has allowed me to appreciate my free time more.

Q: Do you have any advice for coping with these adjustments?

A: Embrace the change and get used to it.

Q: What are some of your current short-term goals?

A: Right now, I am focusing on expanding my professional career. Since starting work over six months ago, I have a lot more responsibilities. The only way to grow as a professional is to take on new tasks and take ownership of them. I know that I will make mistakes along the way, but I will learn from them and that is what matters.

Q: Is there anything else about your college and career experience that you would like to add?

A: College is supposed to be fun. Life is supposed to be fun. Do what you need to do but enjoy yourself along the way. No one is on their deathbed wishing they had studied more or worked more.

Hiring From the Employer’s Perspective Part 3: The Interview (What’s the Employer’s Approach)

As we discussed in Part 1 & 2, we want to walk you through the hiring process.

We have covered the Job Search and The Selection, now it’s time to focus on The Interview from the employer’s perspective.

A recent survey was done by Inc. magazine and the results published in their article, Where Money Meets Morale, where they asked America’s fastest growing companies how they hire and retain their best employees.

Interview Results:

  • Let the conversation flow – 33%
  • Focus on skills and knowledge – 25%
  • Focus on unique interests and competencies – 16%
  • Focus on personality – 9%
  • Use structured questions – 4%

What do these results mean for college students and recent grads?

Don’t let the word “flow” fool you, as this does not mean meandering or lack of a plan.  The interviewer always has a strategy to assess skills, knowledge, interests, competencies and personality. The key is to know ahead of time how you want to tell your story so it flows naturally within the timeframe scheduled.

Part II: Post Career Fair Findings

If you had internet in the early years, you may recall how frustrating it was waiting for dial up to connect you to the internet. Aside from the foreign screeching sounds, not being able to use the house phone, and the abysmally slow connection, dial up was my one source to the outside world that was worth the wait. That sums up how I feel currently after attending a career fair where most of the jobs were for internships, teaching positions, or careers totally unrelated to the field I am currently studying. 

The searching part thus far has been tiresome and frankly annoying. If you caught my last blog, I recently attended a career fair. To update you on the event, I went alone – which I felt like I needed to do to feel like the “big girl” that I am. The main advice I utilized was to wait until I visited recruiters for jobs I was moderately interested in before I worked my way up to speaking with the recruiters representing the jobs I most desire. I have to tell you, that was great advice. I was extremely nervous talking to the first recruiters for a teaching job. I stumbled a bit over my words, every sentence had awkward phrasing, I could not think of anything to ask and didn’t have anything written down. The job I wanted however, went off almost flawlessly (after practicing two more times with other companies of course.) I was able to look him in the eye the entire time he talked without feeling completely awkward, I asked knowledgeable questions about the business to let them know I knew about the company and I took them up on an opportunity to mix and mingle with current employers the following evening.  I even made sure to throw in a few things about his life to make it more personal. Even if I do not get that particular job, I learned a lot about my ability to speak well with others in nerve-racking situations. I was a bit disappointed that most employers were looking for interns, but that’s okay  – I am still on the hunt.

The next step in the job search process I hope will be an interview. I should have good news for you, but either way, I will give you the break down about all the prep and processes behind an interview.