On-campus Interviewing   On-Campus Interviews

Each year hundreds of companies and organizations come to Cal Poly to interview for over 500 internships, co-ops and career positions.

  • You may begin applying for interviews through MustangJOBS on the first day of classes during Fall, Winter and Spring Quarters.
  • Students may also reserve interview rooms for phone or web interviews by contacting the Career Services Recruiting Team at (805) 756-5976.

"No-Show" Cancellation Policy

First “No-Show” or 24 Hour Cancellation:

You may schedule, reschedule or cancel interview appointments via MustangJOBS up until two business calendar days before your interview date. If you must cancel your interview less than 24 hours in advance, you must notify the Recruiting Office at 805-756-5976. If you cancel within 24 hours of the interview, or are a “NO-SHOW,” your MustangJOBS account will be placed on a temporary suspension status until an apology letter is written to the recruiter. The recruiter contact information is housed in the Recruiting Office, Bldg. 124, Rm. 113. When emailing the apology letter to the recruiter, please CC a copy of the email to Cal Poly Recruiting staff (mustangjobsethics@calpoly.edu). In addition, you are required to meet with a Career Counselor during FasTrak or Drop-in hours. Please let the counselor know you are there specifically for an interview no-show so the counselor can follow up with the Recruiting Office. Once the On-Campus Recruitment staff receives a copy of the letter and verification from the counselor, privileges will be restored to you.

Second “No-Show” or 24 Hour Cancellation:

The second time you cancel an interview less than 24 HOURS in advance or are a “NO-SHOW,” you must meet with the Executive Director, Eileen Buecher and you will forfeit your privileges to participate in the on-campus recruitment program for ten weeks. This action will also cause all remaining on-campus interviews to be canceled and opened up to other students.

Emergencies:

An emergency on the day of your interview? We understand. Just call Taylor Law at 805.756.6093. You will need to write a letter explaining why you were not present the day of your interview using the same instructions above. BUT, you are only allowed one emergency cancellation per academic year. More than one emergency interview cancellation or one “No-Show” will result in automatic suspension from the On-Campus Interviewing Program for one quarter.

Keys for Successful Interviewing   Keys for Successful Interviewing

Know the Position

  • Carefully review and understand position description.
  • When a written description is unavailable, ask the hiring manager for details and/or speak with professionals you know at the organization or in the same industry.
  • Understand the desired/required qualifications, and be ready to share relevant examples from your experiences.

Know the Organization

  • Research the organization's mission, vision, and values.
  • Be familiar with the organization's products/services as well as recent news and trends.
  • Be prepared to share specific ways you will help the organization reach its goals.

Know Yourself

  • Know what is on your resume and be prepared to elaborate and offer specific examples.
  • Create a list of strengths and skills you have to offer that relate to the position.
  • Come up with brief stories about your past skills, strengths, and accomplishments to illustrate your experience and skills; real-life examples provide evidence of your abilities.

General Tips   General Tips

  • Arrive 5-10 minutes early and turn off your cell phone.
  • Use effective non-verbal communication: a firm handshake, friendly smile, and appropriate eye contact.
  • Remember that body language can help convey confidence, enthusiasm, and interest.
  • Be courteous to everyone and speak positively about others (faculty, past employers, etc.).
  • Always be sincere and honest.
  • Research salary information so that, if asked, you have a reasonable range in mind.
  • Prepare several questions to ask the employer.
  • Keep in mind that interviewing is a two-way process; throughout the interview, be observant and obtain additional information that will help you determine whether the position/employer is a good fit.
  • Collect business cards from all interviewers and promptly send separate thank you notes (email and/or mail) and any requested materials.
  • At the conclusion of the interview, ask about the next step in the process and when you will be contacted.
  • If you have not heard from the employer by the date they said they would contact you, allow 1-2 extra days, then take the initiative to follow up.

Resources to Help You   Resources to Help You

  • Attend a Career Services workshop about interviewing.
  • Meet with a career counselor to strategize and practice.
  • Use the online resources Big Interview (access through MustangJOBS) to prepare interview question responses and practice interviewing.
  • Use LinkedIn to learn more about the organization and its current/past employees.

Ways to Stand Out   Ways to Stand Out

  • Use Portfolium to prepare a portfolio; bring a tablet or printout to showcase your portfolio during the interview.
  • Research interviewers' profiles on LinkedIn; knowing about their background can help you establish rapport.
  • Present yourself professionally by being well-dressed and groomed; visit Career Services' website for videos and tips on professional attire.
  • Prepare thoroughly to demonstrate your genuine interest in the position and ensure that you share the most relevant information with the employer.

Common Interview Questions   Common Interview Questions

Personal Questions

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What do you consider to be your greatest strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What three words would your peers use to describe you and why?
  • Tell me about an important goal that you set in the past. Were you successful?
  • Who or what influenced you most with regard to your career objectives?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

Education and Experience Questions

  • Why did you choose to attend Cal Poly?
  • Describe your current or most recent job, internship, or leadership experience.
  • How has your education prepared you for this position?
  • What makes you qualified for this position?
  • Describe a project you have completed and the steps you used to complete it.
  • What did you enjoy most about your last job or internship? Least?
  • How would a former supervisor describe your work?

"The Position" Questions

  • What motivated you to apply for this position?
  • Why do you want to work for our organization?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • How does your previous experience relate to this position?
  • What is the most attractive aspect of this position? What about the least attractive?
  • Describe three skills or qualities you would bring to this position.
  • What significant trends do you see in this industry?
  • How do you like to be supervised?
  • What are you the best candidate for this position?

Questions to Ask Employers   Questions to Ask Employers

  • What type of training is offered to new employees?
  • What is a typical day or week like?
  • What are some of the challenges you think a new person in this position would face?
  • What are your department goals for the coming year? What are the long-term goals?
  • What are some common characteristics of successful employees?
  • What is the greatest challenge facing your staff/department now?
  • If hired, what types of projects might I expect during the first six months here?
  • What is most engaging about the work for you? And your employees?
  • What does your organization do to foster team building among employees?
  • What is your favorite work event or tradition here?
  • How will I be evaluated in this position?
  • What are the next steps in the hiring process? When can I expect to hear from you?
  • Prepare specific questions for each employer (e.g. "I'm interested in knowing more about the new product line that your company just launched.")

Behavioral Interviewing   Behavioral Interviewing

What It is

Employers use behavioral interviews to evaluate a candidate's experience and behaviors so they can determine the applicant's potential for success. Behavioral questions center around skills, qualities, and abilities important for success in the position.

Using the CAR Technique to Prepare

Use the CAR technique (sometimes referred to as the STAR technique) in answering behavioral questions: State the CHALLENGE you faced, the ACTION you took, and the RESULTS you achieved. The stories you share with the employer should illustrate your qualifications for the position.

CAR Example: "Tell me about a time you worked on a team and encountered conflict."

  • Challenge (about 30% of your response): "I was working in a team of five in my Services Marketing class. We were analyzing survey data to determine the effectiveness of customer service for a local retailer. One of our team members continually failed to show up for group meetings and turn in assignments."
  • Action (about 50% of your response): "After talking with other group members, I approached the team member to find out more about his lack of participation. After finding out that he had a family illness he was dealing with, we worked out a plan for him to contribute to the project, but on a smaller scale. He agreed to work on the written report, which was due at the end of the quarter.
  • Results (about 20% of your response): "Our team bonded after understanding the team member's situation. The team member, after our discussion, contributed significantly to the assignment. We received an A on the project!"

Tips for Success

  • Carefully review the position description to anticipate possible behavioral questions; when you respond, relate your experiences and skills to the position.
  • Select situations and experiences in which you successfully demonstrated the behaviors important to the position.
  • Many companies rate your responses to behavioral questions; be detailed and specific in discussing how you contributed to the success of the project, situation, or event; and make sure to cover all three parts (Challenge, Action, and Result).
  • Be sure to specifically highlight your individual contributions when you discuss team projects.

Common Behavioral Questions

  • Describe your most rewarding college experience. Describe your most challenging college experience.
  • Describe a specific time when you were very busy and how you prioritized your schedule.
  • Describe a time you failed at something.
  • Tell me about a situation where you had to assert yourself to get a point across that was important to you.
  • Describe a time when you were faced with problems or stress that tested your coping skills.
  • Describe a situation in which you had to deal with an upset customer or co-worker.
  • Give an example of your ability to manage or supervise others.
  • Describe a workplace challenge you faced and how you handled it.
  • Tell me about a time you worked in a team environment and encountered conflict.
  • Describe an experience involving a deadline.
  • Describe a time you went above and beyond the call of duty to get a job done.
  • Tell me about a time when you demonstrated leadership.

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