Ace Your Interview

Interviews can be nerve racking! It is hard to sell yourself to someone to prove how you are the ideal candidate for a position. We hear your teeth chattering and see your goosebumps, so here are some tips to ace your interview!


Before the Interview

Do your homework and research the company. This will prove your interest in the company and give you a background of what you are potentially getting yourself into. This will also spark questions to ask your interviewer (we’ll come back to this).


Most interviews are constructed around behavioral-based interview questions. This means that interviewers are likely going to ask you questions concerning your past experiences, and you’ll need to answer in a specific format. We recommend using the STAR-L method. Describe the Situation, discuss your Task and the Action you took to get a Result, and then talk about what you Learned.


You can find examples of this type of question online, and you should practice so that you are more comfortable. You can access Optimal Interview, a site that allows you to record responses to questions using your webcam, online for free through Career Services. You can also schedule an appointment to meet with a Career Consultant for a mock interview. This takes some time, so be sure to set this up well in advance in case your Consultant is booked out. If you don’t have time to wait for an appointment, you can visit Career Express for interview tips.


Interviewers have access to the internet too, and most likely will do their homework as well and look you up.  With that said, review your online image because if you are able to find yourself, they can too. Before you even walk through their doors, an interviewer might have a pretty good idea about who are you, so make that image the best version of yourself.


Know the logistics. This includes the location, time, dress code, and interviewer’s name. If the interview is going to be somewhere you have never been before, go there before the day of your interview so that you know how much time to plan to get there.


On the day of the interview, eat a good meal beforehand, bring copies of your resume for both the interviewer(s) and yourself, and plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early. When you arrive, tell the staff member at the front you name, why you are there, and who you are meeting with. Be friendly to any staff member you come into contact with – they may be your future coworker!


During the Interview

When you meet the interviewer, shake their hand firmly and introduce yourself with your full name. Maintaining eye contact throughout the interview is imperative. Eye contact shows that you are attentive and interested in what the interviewer is saying. And don’t forget to smile! A smile is inviting and warm and will make the interviewer feel like they can trust you more.


Avoid touching your face, hair, and other objects as these types of movements can show that you are nervous. If you feel the need to do something with your hands, simply fold them in your lap or use them to take notes about what the interviewer is saying.


After the Interview

The interviewer is most likely going to ask if you have any questions. This is where your prior research will come in. The interviewer may make it appear that asking is optional, but asking questions is important if you want to show that you are interested in working for the company. You can get ideas on what types of questions to ask online, but avoid simply asking about what they most enjoy on the job. The interviewer will remember you, and if you can demonstrate that you are already familiar with the company’s initiatives, they’ll have a good reason to keep you in mind!


If your interview is in the morning, send a thank you email by the end of the business day. If your interview is in the late afternoon or evening, send your thank you email by the following morning.


If you haven’t heard anything about your status, you can email or call the interviewer, but don’t do this any earlier than five business days. You want to give the interviewer time to review other candidates, but you also want them to know that you are still serious about and interested in the position.


Dress to Impress

Appearance is an essential factor in creating a great first impression, and first impressions are extremely important when you’re trying to find an internship or job! Your resume helps you get your foot in the door, but your appearance is literally what your potential employer will see next! Here is what you should wear to maximize your chances to get the job you want!


Is This Appropriate?

When it comes to dressing professionally for the Fairs and interviews, you want to make sure that your clothing is not only business professional but that it is also appropriate. If you wear a skirt or dress, make sure it extends to your knees. You’ll also want to make sure that you don’t have any plunging necklines on your shirts or blouses. If you wear a collared shirt, plan to wear a tie with it. Dark colored pants and jackets are good, but you don’t want any patterns that will stand out too much. An employer’s focus should be on you and the words that you’re saying, not on your clothing.

Jewelry and makeup should be kept to a minimum. For jewelry, think limited and simple – no flashy pieces. A watch is fine to wear, but if it has an alarm, make sure that is turned off. Makeup should look natural. Make sure you have a neat, clean haircut and style. You don’t want any loose hairs to get in the way as you’re talking to an employer! You also want to make sure that your perfume or cologne isn’t too strong. If you’re concerned about it, don’t wear it.

Shoes should be close-toed and limit your heel to a half-inch. Remember, you’ll be walking around the fair for a while, so wear something comfortable.

Hats should not be worn, but religious headgear is fine.

If you bring a bag, you can check it at our Student Ready Room during the Fairs, or you can store it in a compartment during on-campus interviews. We don’t recommend having your bag with you during the Fairs as it can limit your ability to move through the crowds. However, we do recommend having a folder or padfolio stocked with clean copies of your resume. Feel free to bring business cards if you have them. When you get business cards from the employers you meet with, you’ll want a place to store them!

Also, bring your phone! Make sure it is on silent or vibrate, but bring it with you. Download the Career Fair Plus app and use it as your map during the Fairs! You can also use the app to take notes on employers you meet with.

If you are second-guessing your outfit, it is probably because it is either not conservative or professional enough. It is better to be safe than sorry!

For more information on dressing for success, check out our website.



If you scan your closet and find nothing that fit these descriptions, it’s okay! As a USF student, you have Suit- A-Bull, dedicated to helping you dress for success! Employers that we work with, and our amazing staff and faculty have donated closets full of clothes to help our students look and feel their best with the proper attire for the Fairs and on-campus interviews! You can also borrow clothing that you need for off-campus interviews and other professional-related events.

Click here for current hours of operation and more information about Suit-A-Bull!

The Truth About Networking

Networking is the art of building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. By networking with professionals in targeted companies or occupations that interest you, you may find more opportunities are available for you. Networking opportunities that are available to you include events put on by Career Services, social media, friends, and family.

Keep reading to find out how you can use networking to your benefit, and how you can network in ways you might not have thought of before!


Benefits of Networking

People often expect an immediate payoff from networking. However, creating meaningful, lasting connections with people takes time. Building a powerful network also requires you to help others as much as they help you. As you meet new contacts, listen for ways you can help them. Over time, you may find that your willingness to step in pays off!

Some benefits of networking include: the opportunity to increase your visibility by being seen at professional, social and community events; an expanded pool of professional contacts; a chance to build your personal brand; access to powerful and influential individuals; increased marketability within your industry; and a way to position yourself for new career opportunities. The benefits and possibilities from networking are endless!


Using LinkedIn to Build Your Network

LinkedIn is a very powerful networking tool that you can use to build and maintain your professional network. If you don’t have a profile set up yet with LinkedIn, we highly recommend setting one up before you begin networking!

Through LinkedIn, you can make your network aware of your job search status, find out where other people within your industry are working and see what their path to their current position has been, and connect with people you may not have had the opportunity to meet with in person. You can also find hiring managers for jobs you would like to apply for so that you can write more effective cover letters.


Networking Events

During your college career and throughout your work life, you will have opportunities to attend professional and social events where participants “network.”

Here at USF, there are tons of opportunities for you to practice your networking skills and build your contacts. The Career & Internship Fair Weeks, held once in both the fall and spring semesters, provide a way for you to connect with contacts from a variety of companies in many different industries. These events are good for students of any year, regardless of whether you are looking for a full-time job or internship. If you’re a first-year student, you can come to the Fairs to prepare yourself for what it will be like when you are seeking employment, and you’ll make connections with recruiters that will likely be recruiting a couple years from now. If you’re in your senior year, you can use the fairs as a way to match your face to your application, and you might even have a chance to sign up for an on-campus interview!

Our Fall 2017 Career & Internship Fair Week starts on Monday, so be sure to check out the list of participating employers on Handshake and download the new Career Fair Plus app to get the map!

Other networking events that the Career Services office hosts include Employer Spotlights, Information Sessions, and Careers & Coffee events. All of these events are listed in Handshake so that you can easily find events that align with your schedule and allow you to interact with companies that you want to meet.


For more information on networking, please visit our website

Resumes That Work

Your resume is a job search tool focused on organizing your past experiences to help you gain future experience. When creating your resume, think of the types of positions you are applying for since it will show how you will excel in that particular job.

The Fall 2017 Career & Internship Fair Week is just around the corner, and you want to make sure that you have plenty of copies of your resume on hand to give to employers at the fair! To get your resume reviewed, visit our walk-in service, Career Express!

Use the guidelines below to help you use your resume to demonstrate your unique skills and qualifications.



 This part of the resume should include your name, contact information, personal LinkedIn profile URL, and links to other professional websites or portfolios if you have them. Make sure your name is typed in the largest font. We recommend using a font size of 16-20. Your contact information should also be visible so the employer can easily contact you. Include your professional email address (your USF email is fine) and a phone number.


 This section should include schools you’ve attended, degrees you’ve earned, and any degrees in progress. In addition, include your graduation date or anticipated graduation date. It is not required to have your GPA in your resume but it is optional. We recommend only adding it if is above a 3.5. Do not include any information about your high school education.


 Experience can be anything! Make sure to include any experience that is relevant to the position you are applying for. Experience can include paid positions, unpaid positions, internships, volunteer opportunities, and any sort of leadership role. If you have a lot of leadership experience, you can create a separate section to highlight those roles.

For each position, make sure you include your start date and end date, the position location, and 3-5 bullets describing your duties and responsibilities at each position. These bullets should start with an action verb and should explain what you accomplished in your role. The action verb should be in past tense if you no longer work in that role, and should be in present tense if you are currently in that role.


 In addition to your experience, make sure to include any relevant skills you may have as bullet points within a separate “Skills” section. Some examples of skills to include are languages you speak (other than English), Adobe, and Microsoft Office. Avoid adding information about “soft skills” such as “communication” or “teamwork.” These soft skills should be described throughout your experience section.

 Optional Components

On your resume, you can also include other sections such as awards, research, or publications.

For examples of resumes please visit our website.


Tailoring Your Cover Letter


Cover letters do a lot of things. They introduce and allow you to expand on your resume, interest the employer in what you have to say, and showcase your voice and writing style to the employer. That’s a lot to do on one page!

There is no one-size-fits-all cover letter. Each one should be tailored to the position you are applying for. However, there are key components for every cover letter, and making sure that you include these will help you structure yours so that you can quickly write an effective cover letter!


Introduce Yourself!

 First and foremost, you need to state the position you are applying for and how you found the position. If you found the position through a career website or you were recommended, it is important to state this information in your cover letter. As you transition to writing about why you are applying for the position, make sure to keep the reader interested so they will continue to read your cover letter.


What Makes You Stand Out?

It is important to include why you’re interested in the position you are applying for. It can be difficult to put this information in your resume, but your cover letter is a great place to put this information. Make sure to include your interests in the position, company, and any associated products or services.

You should also include what you have to offer to the company. This is a great time to share with the employer any essential skills that you have that were not highlighted in your resume. Also, bring up any relevant academic background or work experience that you feel has prepared you for the position. Make sure not to repeat the information on your resume but to go more into detail about how your experiences will be an asset to the job you are applying for.


Why this Company?

There is a huge difference between why you would want a certain position and why you desire to work for a certain company. This is the time to do your research and find the mission statement and values of the company and connect them to yourself. It is a good idea to explain if you share any of the same beliefs as the company or if their values have any relevance to you. Show that you invested time out of your busy schedule to do your research on the company.


You Want an Interview!

It is crucial to state in your cover letter how you would love to share more about yourself in an interview! This is a great way to show that you are eager to proceed with the application process.

Finally, make sure to include your contact information.

For more assistance on cover letters visit our website

You can also come into our office for Career Express to have one of our career peers review your cover letter.