Recruited 101: 5 Tips To Ace The “On-The-Spot” Interview

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Recruitment season is all about preparation. Careful research, polished cover letters and resumes and a clear plan for the future are all key to your success.

Don’t overlook a crucial component of campus recruitment that could be essential to snagging your dream job: the on-the-spot interview.

On-the-spot interviews are useful for campus recruiters because they show how you operate under pressure and how prepared you are for the event.

While an on-the-spot interview can feel like a casual conversation, a lot may be at stake. Recruiters often use on-the-spot interviews as pre-screening opportunities to decide who should be included in the next stage of the hiring process.

Presenting yourself in just a few minutes might seem nerve-wracking, but these tips will help you ace an on-the-spot interview.

1. Get egg-cited

First impressions matter a great deal, especially in the high-activity environment of a recruiting session. If you seem like you’re dreading the conversation, that’s going to affect your responses and how they’re received.

When presented with the opportunity to take part in an on-the-spot interview with a recruiter, imagine it as getting one step closer to a job.

Yes, it’s a challenge, but that doesn’t mean you have to treat it like a hurdle.

You should be seeking out these opportunities, not fearing that one might find you.

Recruitment Tip: “That sounds great, I’d appreciate that opportunity,” makes a much stronger impression than, “Oh! Ok…”

2. Dress the part

Believe it or not, one of the key steps to success in an on-the-spot interview takes place before you even get in the room.

If you’re visiting an event between classes and are tempted to show up in street wear, think again. Wearing appropriate attire helps communicate that you’re taking the event seriously, and indicates to a recruiter that you understand the importance of following a dress code.

A good rule of thumb is to dress as if you were attending a formal interview on-site at a company, or a little more formal than their daily dress code.

Err on the side of conservative dress, but try to include a unique detail that reflects your personality.

Recruitment Tip: If it’s impossible for you to get into your preferred networking outfit, be sure to at least wear something more dressy than you’d wear on an average day. No knapsacks! 

3. Brainstorm better answers

Before you attend a recruitment event, challenge yourself with commonly-asked interview questions. For example:

  • Why do you want to work at our company?
  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are you looking for in a career?

You may think you’ve got these questions covered, particularly if you think well on your feet.

However, providing a memorable answer isn’t just about saying relevant things. These questions are generic, and even great answers that are all about you will sound generic as well.

Don’t just talk about yourself. Use your answers to show active engagement with the structure and workplace culture of your potential employer.

Recruitment Tip: This is a good opportunity to identify and prioritize what you’re looking for in an employer. The results may surprise you! 

4. Practice your elevator pitch

Your on-the-spot interview won’t necessarily be a time-consuming activity. It might be as simple as one of many possible open-ended questions, like: “What makes you a great candidate?”

This is where crafting a good elevator pitch comes in.

Ask yourself: “If I was stuck in an elevator for 60 seconds with a brilliant figure from my industry, what would I say to make him or her want to work with me?”

You’ll need to be ready to demonstrate your exceptional qualities while tailoring your response to an employer’s specific question.

There are no quick tricks here, just good old practice. Figure out the angle you want to use, then practice adjusting it to different situations.

Recruitment Tip: The goal is to sound prepared, not rehearsed. With regular practice, you’ll be able to improvise and maintain a natural attitude while making a strong impression.

5. Nail the etiquette

Treat this interview with the same focus and tact you would bring to a scheduled one-on-one meeting.

If you’re in a group, don’t let noise from other participants stop you from giving a full answer. Be sure to ask for clarification if some part of the conversation is unclear. Don’t be afraid to ask a recruiter if your response was audible.

If your conversation is interrupted, don’t comment on the interruption. Wait politely and pick up right where you left off, as if nothing had happened.

Close your conversation with a handshake and a wrap-up statement that indicates you appreciated the opportunity to talk. Suggest following-up on your conversation and exchange contact information as appropriate.

Demonstrating these skills will not only help you make the most of a brief opportunity, but will also indicate to a recruiter that you have excellent communication skills.

Recruitment Tip: Make sure to take these steps even if they mean waiting or feeling a little awkward. That’s when they really stand out.

Are you ready for campus recruitment season? Read more of TalentEgg’s Recruited 101 series to get a head start!

 Photo credit: pennstatenews
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