Tuesday, February 9, 2010 myBiz Blog
Ask the Expert: What Next? by Kelly Cuene

So the career fair was a smashing success – you schmoozed with company reps, handed out lots of resumes and the waiting game begins… what next?  

True story: Recruiter (via phone): “Hi – I wanted to invite you to complete a first-round interview with us next week.” Candidate: “Uh… great!  Here are the times that work for me…” Recruiter“Okay, so we’re all set for next Thursday at 1pm?” Candidate: “Yup.  What company is this again?  And can you tell me what position I applied for?”


F.  Big fat F.  Good thing that was a phone conversation because I don’t think I could’ve stopped an eye roll.  I’m 99% sure that candidate isn’t making it past the first round.  And this conversation happens all the time

Now I totally understand that you met with a ton of people recently and may not have all your jobs/companies straight.  After all, your goal is simply to get a job after you graduate.  However, just like you want to be treated as an individual who has valuable knowledge and drive to contribute to a prospective employer, us recruiters want to feel that we are your top choice of places to work… that we aren’t just one of many. 

So hopefully you’ll be getting calls or emails inviting you to proceed in companies’ application processes – great!  Here are a few tips to get you started on the right foot: 

Tip #1:  Careful with your vmail.  If you have an inappropriate/immature voicemail message, change it now.  “Yo, leave a message” does not make me want to hire you as a young professional. 

Tip #2:  Don’t answer numbers you don’t recognize.  Or if you really want to, be sure to answer professionally (aka: without your roommate singing along to American Idol).  You want to gather as much information as you can before actually speaking to someone on the phone (what company, what position, what dates/times are they offering?). 

Tip #3:  Did you forget what position you applied for?  That’s why vmail is your best friend.  Hopefully the recruiter will spill the beans about which prospective position they’ve got in mind - but if not, you can at least check the company’s employment website to narrow down the options.  I’d say to the recruiter, “Thanks for the invitation.  I was most interested in the XXX position – is that the position for which I’m interviewing or was there something else you felt would be a good fit?”.  

Tip #4:  Do your research.  I’ll suggest this as a tip in multiple posts because it’s so true!  Put some time into prepping for your interview.  I know you’d rather watch The Office, but this is your potential job we’re talking about.  Practice basic interview questions.  Know your resume. 

Tip #5:  Smile.  Especially if it’s a phone interview.  Your voice changes and becomes more pleasant and engaging when you smile.  Don’t be embarrassed to sit in front of a mirror when practicing (or conducting) your interview.  

Good luck!  Watch for final-round interview tips and how to deal with rejection in future posts… and feel free to comment below or email me – I look forward to answering your questions!


Michelle is an experienced human resources professional and a UW-Madison alum. In her "Ask an Expert" articles she tackles students' toughest career and recruiting questions, providing an employer's perspective so students can learn what campus recruiters REALLY think. To learn more about Michelle, view her intro post.