Nowadays, many companies recruiting for entry-level jobs or internships will visit college campuses to interview potential candidates, instead of requesting that they come into the office. At first glance, this seems to be a positive–no traveling, fewer missed classes, and a home field advantage. However, although convenient, on-campus interviews can pose certain challenges that those conducted in an office might not.
The first tip to keep in mind is that although you may schedule your interview during free time, you should still inform any professors, coaches, etc. that your interview could potentially run over the allotted time. Carving out enough time for the appointment is crucial, and will allow you to breathe easier if the interviewer is running a bit behind. This way, you can devote your full attention to the interview, without continuously checking your watch.
Another challenge that arises from an on-campus interview is that you are not able to witness firsthand the culture of the company you’re applying to. Getting a feel for the culture when visiting an office is one of the most important aspects of determining if the position is right for you. In order to compensate for this disadvantage, make sure to research the company thoroughly and ask the company’s representative what type of culture they are promoting within their offices. Not only will this show your serious interest in the position, but it is also beneficial when making the choice between potential future offers.
The final aspect to remember is that you are competing against your student peers for the same position. It is important to be aware that all the candidates the interviewer meets with are going to have a similar educational experience. Therefore, it is more crucial than ever to distinguish yourselves from other applicants. Instead of pointing to certain experiences on your resume that others might have in common with you, highlight what you’ve learned from a summer internship or tell a story about a unique experience you’ve had that will set yourself apart from your fellow students. Interviewers are searching for that one candidate that breaks up the monotony, so make sure that you are that candidate.
Even though there are challenges to an on-campus interview, the goal is to let the employer view you in your natural habitat. So use the home-court advantage. Take the interview seriously and dress professionally, but incorporate what you do daily on campus into your answers, like mentioning that you have a student government meeting later that evening. Many students are caught unprepared for the differences between interview types, or worse, they take the on-campus interview less seriously. Being aware of the challenges of an on-campus interview will give you an advantage over other candidates, and never forget to thank them for making the trip out to interview you!