Kansas City hosted the National Society of Black Engineers Annual Convention in March 2017. Students from across the country gathered in Bartle Hall to interact with employers from around the globe. Resumes were exchanged, interviews conducted, and offers made. It was a flurry of activity and opportunity. I asked a group of HR professionals for a few tips that I could share with SCE students. Here’s what they had to say!
1) Bring your enthusiasm. Employers want to know your credentials, but in addition to that, they want to know your personality. Energy and excitement make for a memorable first impression. In a sea of faces and resumes, how will you stand out?
2) Practice your story. There’s nothing more embarrassing than getting flustered in an interview. Stumbling over your words, freezing up and becoming paralyzed is not a good look. It sounds extreme, but my HR insiders assured me it happens all the time. You can prevent this by rehearsing your story. Be able to explain who you are, what your interests are, and why you are a good fit for the position.
3) Do your research. Every company rep I talked to said the same thing: do your research. You need to learn about the company with which you plan to interview. Take a look at their website, understand what they do, and dig a little bit deeper. Remember, you are competing with your peers for opportunities—whether that’s an internship or a full-time job—so distinguish yourself by your depth of knowledge about the company.
4) Showcase your leadership. There’s a misconception that companies are looking to hire employees, they’re not. They are looking to hire leaders. When was the last time you were in a leadership role? If you can’t think of any, then it’s time to get involved. Student teams and organizations are great way to accumulate those experiences and develop your ability to lead.
5) Prepare your questions. The interview process includes time for you to answer questions and ask questions. Be prepared for both. One HR professional mentioned that if you don’t have anything prepared to ask, it’s quickly noticed. He then suggested that students should ask a question of the interviewer, “How long have you worked at XYZ Company, and what has kept you there?” Once that answer is given, you can follow up with a second question regarding something they said in their initial response.
The Roman philosopher Seneca stated, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” If you follow these tips, you’re not guaranteed a job, but they will increase your odds. For more information about preparing for an interview, check out the UMKC Career Services website at http://career.umkc.edu/.
Assistant Director of Recruitment
School of Computing and Engineering
University of Missouri – Kansas City