Making the Most of On-Campus Interviewing
On-campus interviewing has been on a long, slow decline for the past fifteen years at college campuses nationwide. The past five years have seen one of the worst slumps for college grads in more than two generations. However, it is still vitally important to make the best use of on-campus interviewing opportunities. It's a gift that you will only have access to for a limited time. Make the most of it.
On-campus interviewing success does not consist of meeting with three or five (or even ten) companies and then picking the one you want to work for. To maximize your on-campus interviewing success, you need to maximize both the quality and quantity of the interviews, then maximize your interview efficiency. It's not enough to just "show up" for the interviews and hope that someone will miraculously offer you a job. You have to be at your peak performance to gain any mileage from on-campus interviewing.
While you need to make the most of on-campus interviewing, you should never depend exclusively on it to guarantee you after-graduation employment. There are far more companies than just those that are visiting your campus. So make sure to also take note of additional Job Hunter articles on Research and Networking for seeking out and finding the full spectrum of potential employers.
It's important to know who your competition is when you are interviewing on-campus. They're the people sitting there next to you in your classes. They'll also be sitting there in the interviewing waiting room or shaking hands with the interviewer in the time slot just before (and after) yours. All those students who you have been competing with for grades are now your direct competition for jobs. At least for the jobs that come calling to your campus. They're the same ones who blew the top end of the curve on the last test. But keep in mind that this isn't the chemistry final. It's not how much you know, but how well you communicate. The 4.0 student who cannot interact with anything other than a pencil will have as much (or more) difficulty finding a job than others.
Know your competition and what they have to offer. Know yourself and what you have to offer. Be ready to differentiate and sell based upon your unique skill set.
Choose your interviews wisely. Year after year, students consistently flock to the "household name" companies (such as Exxon, IBM, General Motors, etc.), yet many end up ignoring the best employers, some of these companies going almost unnoticed and unable to fill their interview slots. Why? Because they aren't well known. And few students take the time to the research to find out about these companies. Often, there are pleasant surprises when looking into many of the smaller companies, which are often more growth-oriented and offer better opportunities for career growth. Think about it this way. If you were deciding whether to invest money in the stock of a company, wouldn't you take the time to fully research the company, find out about its market positioning, potential growth rate, and its competitive position in the marketplace? Of course you would. So why would you settle for anything less in deciding which company to invest your the all-important beginning of your career ?
Ironically, many college students end up going to work for companies that they would not even invest their own money in. Think about it. If you would not consider investing even $500 in the stock of the company, why would you consider investing your life with that very same company?
The Personal Investment Technique
Use the Personal Investment Technique as your litmus test for determining which companies are the very best companies to interview with on-campus (and off). If you would not consider investing money in the company from a financial standpoint, they probably should not be at the head of your list of companies to interview with. Conversely, those companies that are good investments will likely be good employers. And for smaller companies, they may also be less noticeable. With far less competition.
Please note that this technique does not automatically count out all market giants due to sheer size and already established market domination. Merck, Microsoft, and Proctor & Gamble are good examples of market leaders that are still at the top of anyone's list of great companies to work for. They key is whether or not we would be comfortable making a financial investment in the company.
Want some "insider information" in making these decisions? Hook up with a full-service stockbroker. Tell them that you are interested in potentially making an investment and that you would appreciate any information they may have on companies x, y, and z. Most are happy to oblige. You can also use some of the research strategies we've covered in previous articles to help you decide whether you want to pursue a potential interview with a particular company.
In using this technique, it's important to keep in mind that, as with financial investments, there will always be an unknown element involved. There may be some unanswered questions, but don't wait until you've gathered "perfect information" before making your decision. Gather the information that is available, then make your choices.
Again, if you would not favorably consider making a financial investment in the company, then don't consider investing your heart and soul.