It is career fair time! Whether you are looking for an internship or a graduate position it is time to update that resume and practice for your interviews. This can be a stressful process, but it doesn’t have to be. Knowing a few tips ahead of time will help ease your nerves. This will not only bring more confidence in yourself, but the interviewer will notice.
The first step is to master your resume. Most of the time your resume is your first impression to the company. A clean and tidy resume will stand out to the company and get your foot in the door for the interview. This is an obvious tip, but ALWAYS proof read your resume and get someone else to proof read it. I know as engineers we may not be the best writers; look into your college’s writing center for help. Keep it simple and organized. We know as a college student you will not have too much on your resume, but don’t go overboard trying to fill the page. If you have work experience show it, even if you think it is not relevant to engineering. A part-time or summer job while attending college shows that you can balance both responsibilities at one time. Past work experience can develop skills that are relevant in engineering like time management and customer service.
Hopefully, when you interview you are interested in the position and company. If not, don’t interview for the sake of interviewing. Your interviewers take time out of their day for the interview. Use their time wisely. Do your research about the company before the interview. What does the company do? Is there any recent news about the company, such as awards or new projects? The interviewer will know when you prepare, but will know even more if you didn’t prepare for the interview. ASK QUESTIONS! We want to know your questions. Know what you are looking for in a company. Do you have a focus, such as, transportation? Does the company have a transportation department? Are you looking for a small or large company? Don’t be shy about asking decision.
Body language is just as important as what you say in an interview. Sit up straight, no folding arms and try to relax. The interviewer knows you are nervous, but fidgeting with your hands or twisting your hair can leave a bad first impression. Eye contact is a must! I know as engineers we are given the stereotype of being socially awkward, but to an interviewer someone who looks down while they talk lacks confidence. Along with body language is the choice of clothing. A “rule of thumb” for dressing for an interview is dress a little nicer than you should. If majority of the company dresses more casual and relaxed go a step above that. Typically for men, wear at least a tie and jacket. For women, remember to dress conservatively and not too trendy. A traditional business dress or suit combo works well.
On the day of the interview be aware that the interview may take half a day or more. Make sure you keep your day free; you don’t want to rush through. It would be best to keep any distractions away, so keep your cell phone in the car. Even if the company already has your resume bring a few copies. You may be interviewed by a few people and they may not have looked at your resume. Relax and be yourself; show your personality. You already look good on paper, now the company wants to get to know you. Don’t get TOO comfortable though. Keep it professional and don’t share anything you wouldn’t want your parents to know. Even when the interview is over you are not finished yet. Send a thank you email or letter to your interviewer/interviewers. Mention something you discussed and try to reflect how you are a good fit for the company. It will show interest and remind the interviewer of your meet.
This is an exciting time! Remember this is your time to shine and “Sell” yourself to a company. Confidence and preparation will make all the difference. Go ace your interview!