Securing the Company-Site Interview
You know the feeling. You have just completed an on-campus interview with a company with which you are truly impressed. You really want to work for this company. It's almost like falling in love all over again—well, maybe you don't spend every waking hour thinking of them, but the butterflies in the stomach part seems pretty similar.
So you sit back to wait for them to take the next step. And then it happens. The infamous "Dear John" or "Dear Jane" letter (and your name isn't even John or Jane!). How could this happen? How could they possibly fall for someone else when you are the only one for them? How could they possibly give their heart to another?
In job search, as well as romance, you cannot sit by the phone waiting for it to ring. You snooze, you lose.
Just going through the motions of the on-campus interview is not enough to secure the company-site interview. And in almost all cases, the company-site interview is the next step toward the eventual prize of the job offer (and a meaningful new life after college).
The first and most important step toward securing the company-site interview is to establish next step continuity at the end of the first interview. The typical "Do you have any questions?" should leave you open for two select questions about the company (remember to do your research in advance so that these questions are appropriate and specific to the employer). You might even test the waters with a Pride of Ownership Technique question to establish the connection between you and the company.
Then on to your final series of closing questions: "From everything I have heard today, combined with my research about your company, I am very interested in going on to the next step. Are you interested in proceeding further?" Yes, it sounds rather bold. But remember, you are in love! Now is not the time to woo from afar. Let them know where you stand first, which then gives you the right to ask the reciprocal question. Assuming they have at least a mildly encouraging response, ask your final question: "What is our next step?" Take careful note of the actions that need to be taken. This will be the chart for your course in securing that vital company-site second interview. And if it has not already been offered, ask for a business card.
The On-Campus Final Impression Technique
Want to leave an excellent final impression? Write out your "thank you" note immediately after the interview and hand-deliver it before the interviewer leaves at the end of the day. Final decisions for company-site callbacks are usually made the same day, so make your best case while you can still have an impact on the outcome. If you were not the last interview on the schedule, sit down in the waiting room and scribe your response on the "thank you" stationery you brought with you. Then give the card to the receptionist and ask that the card be passed on to the interviewer. If you are the last interview of the day, write a quick note and get it to your interviewer before he or she leaves (most recruiters spend a few minutes organizing the accumulated information before departing). You can even have part of the note (the "thanks for your time" opening) written ahead of time. Then track the person down before he or she leaves the building (and beware of alternate escape routes!).
If you are unable to get your "thank you" card to the interviewer, call the office and ask for the interviewer's voicemail. When messages are checked that evening, your personal "thank you" will make a lasting impression. If you are unable to get through with any of the above, send an email thank you to the email address on the business card.
By taking these steps, you will definitely stand out from the crowd.