RIT will be hosting the Spring 2016 Career Fair on Wednesday, March 2 in the Gordon Field House. In order to help students out in their preparations for the event, the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education (OCE) hosted a panel on interview preparation in Engineering hall ENG-1555 last Tuesday, Feb. 23.

On the panel were Amanda Cook, a fourth year Mechanical Engineering undergraduate student, Sarah Collmus, a fifth year Mechanical Engineering undergraduate student and Jon Moore, a fourth year Mechanical Engineering Technology undergraduate student. The panel was moderated by Kate Caliel, Associate Director for Student Services in the OCE. Cook and Collmus will be recruiting on Career Fair Day for General Cable, the company at which they've both been on co-op. Moore will be recruiting for GE Aviation.

After discussing their backgrounds, the recruiters were asked about what aspects of an interviewee's introduction they paid most attention to. Moore stated that the candidate's level of enthusiasm and their ability to hold his attention would be key. Collmus said she'd be interested in why a student came to her company, with Cook adding that she'd be interested in candidates asking questions about her company's current projects.

Speaking about resumes, both the moderator and the panelists stressed on the importance of projects. Collmus said that in her experience, each employer would focus on different aspects of the resume, while Caliel stated that previous feedback from companies visiting the career fair indicated that projects were a significant point of interest for most companies. Moore advised students looking to save space to paraphrase experience and make space for project titles, at the very least.

Furthermore, all panelists were in agreement about course lists and bios, in that they were unnecessary. In terms of extra-curricular life, Cook said that leadership positions within clubs on campus and beyond were generally illustrative of a student with well-rounded skill set, an opinion endorsed by the panel.

"Don't dress to stand out. Let your resume do the talking," Moore commented when discussing appearance. Caliel agreed, advising students to dress conservatively. Collmus and Cook discussed clothing for women, with Cook favoring a business look while Collmus leaned towards dressing for the job.

While discussing interview answers, Collmus strongly advised students to refrain from answering questions about their interests with the cliched "open to anything" response, citing it as one of the worst possible responses. Moore suggested researching the companies to talk about some specific interests and then mentioning a willingness to try new fields.

Given the sheer volume of companies in attendance, the panel conceded that it would be difficult for some students to remember all their research into these companies. To deal with the issue, Caliel suggested students to carry notes with them. "It is perfectly okay to have a notebook with you", Caliel said.

Finally, the panel discussed the Do's and Don'ts for a student at the end of an interview. "Ask questions about the dress code," Moore said. "It shows that you're thinking about the issues you might face in the future." Collmus advised students to ask interviewers if any of their answers didn't sit well, and use the opportunity to iron out any misunderstandings.

After thanking the panelists for their help, Caliel provided information about the resources available to students for the career fair, including pre-registration events and resume review sessions across campus and at the Bausch & Lomb Center as well.

For information about these sessions and other workshops for the career fair, visit the career fair information page for students here.