As graduation inches closer, so does the beginning of Redbird careers, and all of the job interviews leading to career success. Interviews can be intimidating at first, but there are many ways Redbirds can find success. The Career Center offers a variety of resources, both in-person and online.

Use InterviewStream

“There is no substitution for practice, which you can get more of anytime, anywhere through a great tool from the Career Center called InterviewStream,” said Career Advisor Mark Fauble. InterviewStream is a digital resource that can be accessed online. The service presents interview questions listed by major and job industry, and candidates can videotape and review their answers to determine what responses went well and what can be improved upon. This reflection sets one up for success when going into a real interview, because it provides an idea of the types of questions that might be asked and how to most effectively answer them.

Create a LinkedIn Profile

Another stride Redbirds can make to stand out to employers is a strong LinkedIn presence. This social networking website is for professionals in every industry who are interested in making connections and sharing information. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, a 2016 recruiting benchmark survey says nearly 69 percent of employers use social media in the recruiting process. A detailed LinkedIn profile paired with a strong resume and cover letter will give employers a solid impression of who candidates are and what skills they may bring to the table in a given role.

Visit the Career Center

The Career Center offers tangible assistance to current students in the form of free business cards and resume paper and printing. A polished resume and professional business cards may help candidates stand apart from their competitors. Students and alumni can also meet with their career advisors, who can help them prepare for the interview process by conducting mock interviews or offering professional advice.

“I have learned that it’s okay to not know all of the answers to the questions that life throws at you. All of the Career Center staff have been more than helpful with their advice and encouragement.  I’ve also learned how to create a rapport with employers and to not be afraid to take opportunities to talk with them about their career paths,” said senior Natassia Dunlap. The Career Center helped her to connect with employers and prepare for interviews with Career Center Partners American Family Insurance and Cintas. After a series of interviews, Dunlap has secured a job immediately following graduation in December.

Research employers beforehand

Before an interview, candidates should research the organization by visiting its website and social media accounts to learn more about a company’s services and products, customer/client base, mission and values, and news headlines. This research process helps students to identify if the organization is a good fit for them and may inspire questions to ask during the interview, as well as show that they have “done their homework,” a sign of interest in the company.

Ace the interview

When the time finally comes for the interview, put all nervousness aside and enter with confidence. One starting question employers may ask is “tell me about yourself?” To avoid drawing a blank when it comes to such an open-ended question, Redbirds should develop a 30-second commercial about themselves, packaging their interest, experience and skills. Having this 30-second commercial helps not only in interviews, but at career fairs and other events that provide opportunities to make positive first impressions.

Sample 30-second commercial:

“Hello, my name is {______}. I am currently a {year in school}, majoring in {state major}. I am interested in your {internship or job} opportunity because of my experience {mention any related employment or experience: part-time job, RSO involvement, class project, etc.} as noted on my resume. In addition, I {mention any other related experiences} with {organization/company} where I {name projects related to job seeking or that showcase your skills}. While researching your organization, I learned {state a key fact(s) about the organization that stood out}, and I’m interested in learning more.”

Dress the part

Coupled with verbal readiness, comes presentation readiness. Candidates should carefully consider what to wear to interviews. Dress professionally in business attire, such as a business suit, to make a strong first impression with employers; as this brands you as a professional. The Career Center also recommends that even if the interview is over the phone, dressing professionally may help build confidence and communicate professionally, even if not face-to-face.


“Make sure to follow-up one day after an interview.  An email is nice, but if you really want the position, take the time to send a thank you card through traditional mail. Doing so will really set Redbirds apart from all other candidates,” stresses Fauble. Following-up with employers also communicates appreciation for the employer’s time and consideration. This is a trait that many employers highly value in candidates who apply.

Interviews do not have to be intimidating! With the services and resources provided by the Career Center, Redbirds can be well-prepared to share their knowledge and skills, ace the interview, and ultimately, start their career.

Support the services and programs that build the rising trajectory of career success. Participate in Redbirds Rising: The Campaign for Illinois State by making a gift or pledge of any size to the Career Center Excellence Fund.

The Career Center supports Illinois State University’s Educating Illinois strategic plan by assisting students with developing, evaluating, and implementing career, education, and employment decisions.