Interviewing and Networking

    When we hear the word "networking," many people think of "doing lunch," selling ourselves, and handing out business cards. If we changed the word to “connecting,” we might feel better about it. Your job search begins with the people you know! Never underestimate their knowledge and influence. Most people really enjoy helping one another when they can. Therefore, if you ask someone for help or information, most people will gladly provide it.

    You might not realize it, but you connect with people every day. You can easily use these encounters to your advantage. For example, you have opportunities to network when you:

    • Attend professional conferences, conventions, and presentations.
    • Visit people at a social club, community agency, or religious gathering.
    • Greet those who are sitting near you at a sporting event.
    • Talk with your neighbors.
    • Strike up a conversation while waiting in the check-out line at the grocery store.
    • Reconnect with old friends and colleagues online.

    These are just a few of the many opportunities that you might have for networking. You can use these conversations and connections as ways to learn about business leads, find common areas of interests, and establish a working relationship with a potential mentor or colleague. If you establish a positive, long-term relationship with people, they might be able to refer you to particular job vacancies. Almost 80% of job vacancies today are never advertised! Therefore, most people land jobs based on who they know…not what they know. Networking is a powerful way to get your foot in the door! Don't forget -- you're not asking for a job! You are seeking information, a lead, a contact, or a referral. Think of it as a research project…without a grade.


    Networking tips

    • Be a “joiner”: Join a professional organization and attend conferences and meetings with the goal of meeting at least one new person at each function that you attend. To find a professional association which matches your interests, perform a general internet search or ask a Career Team member. Take a moment to check out our information on social media and networking!
    • Utilize Contacts: Tell everyone you know that you are conducting a job search and what type of job you are looking for. Once again, include relatives, friends, professors, previous employers, etc.
    • Be Assertive: When at a function, whether social or professional, take the initiative and introduce yourself to people; don't wait for people to talk to you. Ask them about themselves and what they do.  (If you are shy, take it one step at a time. You don't have to overwhelm yourself.)
    • Write Thank You Notes: When you have the opportunity to talk with people either over the phone or in person, write a thank-you note.  Let them know that you appreciate the time they gave you and the information they shared. Also, ask them if they know of anyone else who would be able to provide you with more information.
    • Be Organized: Keep track of who you meet, where they work, and what they do. If you have a meeting with someone, be sure to write down the date, time and directions. Some find it useful to keep this information in the form of alphabetized note cards in a rolodex.
    • Update Contacts: Stay in touch with contacts. Send them interesting articles or invite them for coffee.  Make sure they know that you are available to assist them too. Networking is a 2-way street. Also, make sure you update your notes with any important information that passes in conversation. People will appreciate your effort to inquire about how the big project they were working on went when you last spoke.

    Check out our Networking Tips (pdf — 199 kb) for more information.

    An informational interview is where you interview someone to learn more about their career. Informational interviews are an excellent way to network - event as a freshman. If is your chance to meet with professionals who are working in a career field that interest you. You are not interviewing for a job. You are simply asking questions such as:

    • What was your major in college?
    • How did you get the job you have today?
    • What does your day-to-day in the workplace look like?
    • What advice would you have for me as a student who wants to eventually be in a role similar to yours?

    For more information about Informational Interviews and how to set one up check out our Informational Interview Handout (pdf — 335 kb). You also can schedule a meeting with one of our CDI staff for assistance with finding a professional to interview.

    When approaching recruiters, you only have about 5 minutes to convince them to contact you for a future interview. With that in mind, the more prepared you are, the better you will be able to sell yourself. Preparing a 30 second “commercial” about yourself can help break the ice and get the interaction started in the right direction.


    “Hello, my name is Winnie, and I am a senior accounting major at Winthrop University. Last summer I completed an internship in the accounting department of Office Depot. I am interested in broadening my experience, and I read that your company is embarking on a new market in Europe.”

    Your introduction should include the following

    • Name, Class, and Major
    • Opportunities you are seeking
    • Relevant experience (work, internship, volunteer work)
    • Highlights of skills and strengths
    • Knowledge about the company

    Tailor your “commercial” to each of the top companies you will approach. When deciding what information to include, consider what is demanded of the position and what skills or traits would allow someone to be successful in that position. Determine how you can fill such requirements (i.e. key skills, characteristics, experiences) and stress those points.

    It's often advisable to close with some form of question to transfer the conversation to the recruiter. Still, there are questions recruiters say you should avoid...

    • What does the company do?
    • Asking if the company has any jobs.
    • When asked what type of position you are seeking, saying you would be willing to do anything at the company

    Instead, conduct some research ahead of time to gather information about the company. Use this research time to find something about the employer that interests or relates to you (i.e. international customer base, industry relevance, projects, etc ... ), and use that as a base for your questions. For companies you visit that you did not research extensively, follow your introduction with a question such as, ''Could you tell me how someone with my background and could fit into your company?”


    Hello, my name is ______, and I am a (year in program/ alumnus of Winthrop University) (majoring in/ with a degree in)  ______. Recently, I have been (working/ interning/ volunteering) with ______ in the _____ department to gain experience in ______. My strongest interests lie in (teaching/ management/CIS) ______, so I'm looking for a (summer/currently looking/post graduation) position in ________. I'm particularly interested in (company name) because of ________ and find your companies (enter research findings - new market openings, business strategies, community involvement, etc .. .) particularly interesting. Could you tell me about how this will affect employees in (position of interest)? - or other relevant question.

    Once you have prepared your commercial, you need to practice it until you become comfortable enough that you can sell you can exude confidence in its delivery--the recruiter will find you more convincing. Be careful not to cross the line from professional confidence into arrogance or cockiness, as you don't want to push anyone away. Remember to include the basics... maintain good eye contact, good posture, and positive body language, and you should be on the road to success.

    Want to practice your elevator pitch with someone?

    Your career consultant can help you practice your elevator pitch.

    LinkedIn is the world's largest networking site that allows you to share knowledge and ideas, stay up-to-date on industry and market trends, search career opportunities, and connect with professionals.

    Quick Tips

    • Start by connecting with who you know (e.g., co-workers, classmates, professors, etc.)
    • Add examples of your work to your profile.
    • Claim your custom URL
    • Use your profile link on professional marketing tools such as a resume or business card.
    • Join groups relevant to your career interests and comment and post to the groups regularly.

    Linkedin profile checklist:

    • Summary: Here you’ll explain relevant qualifications, such as degree you’re seeking and relevant experiences. You’ll want to include what you’re skilled in and also what your career goals and aspirations are.
    • Headline: Customize pre-selected headline if desired to include what you’re doing (job, internship, student, etc.).
    • Photo: Wear professional attire and don’t forget to smile!
    • Experience: List jobs you have held, including seasonal, part-time, or full-time. You can also listinternships here. Include a description of yourroles, responsibilities, and accomplishments for each.
    • Organizations: Are you involved in any student organizations or professional associations? Remember to include your role in the organization.
    • Education: List all of your collegiate experiences, including summer programs.
    • Volunteer Experiences & Causes: Volunteer experience is just as important as paid work. List out some of your volunteer opportunities!
    • Skills & Expertise: Be sure to add a minimum of 5 skill sets – your connections can then endorse you for things you’re best at.
    • Honors & Awards: Think about accomplishments and awards you’ve earned in or outside of school.
    • Courses: List courses that show skill sets and interests you’re excited about.
    • Projects: This could be leading a team assignment in school or building an app on your own. Talk about what you did and how you did it.
    • Recommendations: Ask supervisors, professors, classmates, coworkers, and othersto write a recommendation. This provides extra credibility to your skills and strengths.

    The purpose of an interview is for you to convince employers not only that you can do the job but also that you will be a valuable member of their team. An interview is often the first opportunity an employer has to meet with you, so your first impression is crucial.

    Key questions an employer has during an interview:

    • Can the person do the job?
    • Will the person do the job?
    • What does the candidate want to do with their career and this job?
    • Will the person be compatible with the existing team/organization?

    Stages of an interview:

    • Introduction Phase
    • Exchange of Information or Questioning Phase
    • Closing Phase
    • Post-Interview
    • Follow-Up

    Types of Interviews

    Case Interview

    • A case interview is an opportunity to analyze s scenario given to you by an interviewer. This is an interactive process in which the interviewer will provide a detailed situation, or scenario and ask you to come up with a solution. The interviewer is typically looking for an analytical ad creative thought process, and there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer. It may be beneficial for you to process the scenario aloud so the interview can understand your thought process in solving the problem.

    Sample Case Interview Questions:

    • "A resturant is setting up a new resturant and is making a decision on facilities to place in the restrooms for customers to dry their hands. Initial research suggests that she has three options - paper towels, roller towels, and hot air dryers. She needs to decide today. What should she consider in her decision making process?"
    • Volvo claims it is the safest car in the world because fewer people die in a Volvo than in a car made by any others manufacturer in the world. What's wrong with this conclusion?"

    Technical Interviews

    • In a technical interview, interviewers are going to ask questions that mainly pertain to your fundamentals. With strong fundamentals, you will be better prepared to tackle any open-minded questions that are asked. This will allow interviewers to get an idea of how you think, you see your thought process through your use of communication.

    Here are some quick tips to keep in mind when preparing for a technical interview:

    • Related to specific knowledge about the company's technical activities; 
    • Relate to understanding the technical work required to be completed as part of the job applied for;
    • Relate to work completed as a part of a degree course (if this related to the job applied for);
    • Require candidates to solve actual technical problems that they would be likely to face if employed.

    Panel Interviews

    • A panel interview allows several members of a hiring company to interview a job candidate at the same time. In most cases, they will be on their own with the panel, but in other scenarios, there could be several candidates and interviewers all in the room at once. In this situation, each interviewer will then asl every candidate a question in turn. 

    Sample Panel Interview Questions:

    • Describe a time when you were working on a team project and there was a conflict in the group. How did you handle the situation?
    • Tell us about an occasion when you had to deal with a difficult client. How did you prevent the situation from escalating?
    • What is your biggest strength?
    • What is your biggest weakness?
    • Why do you want to work for our company?


    Behavioral Interviews

    • A behavioral interview occurs when a job candidates is asked to describe past behavior in order to determine whether they are suitable for the position. This is done to determine if you possess specific qualities that are needed for the particular position that you applied for. When answering questionsat a behavioral interview, use the STAR method to structure your response. Make sure that you follow all parts of the STAR method. Be as specific as possible. 
      • Situation: Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish. You must describe a specific event or situation, not a generalized description of what you have done in the past. Be sure to give enough detail for the interviewer to understand. This situation can be from a previous job, from a volunteer experience, or any relevant event. 
      • Task: What goal were you working toward?
      • Action: Describe the actions you took to address the situation with an appropriate amount of detail and keep the focus on YOU. What specific steps did you take and what was your particular contribution? Be careful that you don't describe what the team or group did when talking about a project, but what *you* actually did. Use the word "I", not"we" when describing actions.
      • Result: Describe the outcome of your actions and don't be shy about taking credit for your behavior. What happened? How did the event end? What did you accomplish? What did you learn? Make sure your answer contains multiple positive results. 

    Sample Behavioral Interview Questions:

    • Give me an example of a time when you set a goal and were able to meet or achieve it. 
    • Tell me about a time when you had many things to do and you were required to prioritize your tasks.
    • Give me an example of a time when you had to make a split-second decision. 
    • What is your typical way of dealing with conflict? Give me an example.

    Preparing for an Interview

    When preparing for your interview, do your research. Know about the company and the position.

    1. Researching the Employer

    • Find out about:
      • Location
      • Size, including the number of locations and employees
      • Services or products, including new products and projects
      • Competitors within the industry
      • Growth pattern
      • Reputation
      • Divisions and subsidiaries
      • Sales, assets, earnings
      • Any foreign operations

    2. Learn as much as you can about the job position and what it requires. The more information you can find, the easier it will be to match yourself to the position. 

    3. Browse the internet for recent news stories or other information of note. Explore what the news outlets have said, blogs, or general company information sites such as The Riley Guide, Jobweb’s Employer Profiles, or the Atkins Library Databases for Company Research.

    4. Check out or for more information on companies and typical interview questions.

    5. Contact Alumni found through LinkedIn and Facebook.



    A mock interview is a practice job interview with a career coach. Mock interviews allow the interviewee to practice effective responses, work on nonverbal communication skills, and become familiar with interview settings. A mock interview can recreate any interview environment, such as in-person, phone, or group interviews.

    Interested in a mock interview?

    • Schedule an appointment with the career center (virtual or in-person)
    • Attend an upcoming Mock Interview Day event (in-person)
    • Practice on Big Interview AI platform (virtual)