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Interviewing Guidelines

How Should I Approach the Interview?

  • With a professional attitude and appearance.
  • Report promptly to the interview (10-15 minutes prior to scheduled time).
  • Have your resume up-to-date. The recruiter wants to talk with you – not make corrections for you. For on-campus interviews your Handshake résumé is provided for the recruiters in the packets, but it is always good to have a copy on hand. You will also want to have a brief research summary and/or slides to present to the recruiter(s).
  • Be appropriately dressed. This usually means a suit unless the recruiter specifically states “business casual.” Also, bring a professional folder and nice pen. (For additional information on professional dress, please see our “Dress for Success” handout.)
  • Pay attention to the non-verbal signals you are sending:
    • present a firm handshake, a smile, and eye contact when greeting a recruiter
    • maintain good posture and do not fidget or use distracting hand gestures
    • enunciate clearly, use good grammatical structure and a professional vocabulary
    • always provide a positive tone…assume responsibility for mistakes but be sure to also present what you have learned and how you have improved
  • Think before you speak so your answers are well-organized and supported by facts and experiences.
  • Be enthusiastic and convey your interest in the position.
  • If you must cancel an interview, do so at least 4 days (see Handshake @ Illinois instructions for more information on canceling) in advance so that another may have the opportunity to interview. Obviously only serious illness or an emergency is an appropriate reason to cancel on the day of the interview.
  • Know something about the company and the opportunities it offers. Give an indication that you have done your “homework”. Be prepared to ask relevant questions and to tailor your experiences and skills to the employer’s needs. Watch for company presentations and plan to attend. Have thoughtful questions of your own prepared.
  • Have a fairly clear idea of what sort of work you want to do. What are your career goals? What do you see yourself doing in the initial work experience? These questions require self study and evaluation. Look at the many handouts on recruiting, interviewing, and career development in the office.
  • Be ready to “market” yourself to the employer. What can you do for him/her? What is the value that you add to their business, project, etc.? Although you and the employer both have to feel comfortable with the “fit,” during the interview you must sell yourself. Therefore, it is not appropriate to ask the “What’s in it for me?” questions about salary, benefits, etc. unless the employer mentions them first.
  • Follow through after the interview: Send a thank you note to each recruiter within 48 hours, follow procedures, carry out any commitments you made, and evaluate what you can do to improve your interviewing skills.

Repeated cancellations and/or no-shows will be cause to forfeit the privilege of further interviews through the recruiting season.

How and Where Do I Do My “Homework” About the Companies?

Be sure to attend the company presentations/meetings scheduled throughout the recruiting season. The information exchanged here may not be repeated in the interview. This allows more time for the recruiter to focus on you and your interests.

In addition, always refer to a company’s web site for detailed information about the organization. Finally, the Career Services office maintains brochures and materials on many of the companies that regularly recruit on campus. Please visit us in 105 Noyes to pick those up.

What Other Services Does the SCS Career Services Office Offer?

The Career Services office offers a number of other services and programs (see Our Services page) including the Handshake recruiting system with enables you to view job postings, obtain contact information on recruiters, and participate in our on-campus interviewing program.

Mock Interviews can be arranged to enable job seekers to practice for academic and/or industry position interviews. To schedule a Mock Interview, simply contact our office at (217) 333-1051 or

We maintain a number of helpful handouts. Please feel free to stock up in 105 Noyes or visit the on-line Resource Library.

We also offer workshops and individual advising on the following: résumé/CV and cover letter critiques, career choice advising, negotiating, networking support, job search tips and interviewing assistance.

Interviewing Information

How Do I Know What Companies Are Coming to Campus to Interview?

All on-campus recruitment is handled through Handshake @ Illinois.

Invitation Letters:

Employers occasionally identify students whom they wish to interview. This process usually involves the employer reviewing a résumé book comprised of Handshake résumés from our Student Database. Job Fairs, faculty contacts, new hires, etc. are other ways that employers identify students. Employers contact students “inviting” or “preselecting” them to interview.

Where Are Interviews Held? How Long Is an Interview?

Most interviews are held in Noyes Lab and in the Digital Computing Lab (Engineering Career Services). Most interviews are 30 minutes. However, some may last 45 or 60 minutes. Be sure to note times, dates, and room numbers carefully in advance of your interview.

Room numbers, locations, and recruiters’ names will be in the Handshake @ Illinois for Chemical Sciences recruiting system.

Company Applications:

Some employers require that employment applications (or other materials) be completed before your interview. Please refer to the Handshake @ Illinois recruiting system for more information.


Some employers require a copy of your academic transcript. Order one from Records Service Center, Admissions and Records Building, 901 West Illinois Street, Urbana, make photocopies, and carry them with you to interviews. It takes a few days to get a copy, so order early. Enrolled students may order transcripts from the Admissions web site. Orders are billed to your student account.

In addition, your Handshake @ Illinois Instructions handout includes steps to obtain an unofficial copy of your transcript through the Banner Enterprise system.

Engineering Career Services Office – and Others:

Occasionally company representatives will interview School of Chemical Sciences candidates through the Engineering Career Services Office or other career offices. In order to interview through those offices, you must go to the appropriate offices and follow their procedures.

What if the Company Is Not Asking For My Degree Level or Major Field?

Your candidate registration profile must exactly match the specifications of the company. You may sign-up for the company ONLY IF we receive special permission from a company representative if your profile does not match.

Salary and Offer Data:

Salary information is available on Salary Survey Reports page. This data is collected from reports of candidates and you can utilize the information to assist you in your salary negotiation process. We rely on you to report ALL salary offers – academic and industrial – whether or not you interviewed for the job through SCS Career Services. Every effort is made to provide salary information anonymously.

Recruiting Process

There are two on campus industrial recruiting seasons. The fall season, beginning in September, is the most active. B.S, M.S., Ph.D., and postdoctoral candidates seeking full-time employment, as well as undergraduates seeking summer employment, should be prepared to actively interview in the fall. Spring recruiting, beginning in early February, is less active and focuses primarily on B.S. and M.S. candidates along with summer opportunities and occasional Ph.D. schedules.

The resource library includes literature about the companies recruiting on campus as well as many handouts and reference guides on the interview process, resume preparation, plant visits, etc. You are encouraged to use all the materials available.

Please do not hesitate to ask the School of Chemical Sciences Career Services personnel to assist you.

Full-Time Industrial Recruiting

Representatives will be recruiting in our office September – mid-November during the fall semester and February – March during the spring semester. All candidates graduating during the 2017-2018 school year should actively participate in the fall recruiting season for the following reasons:

  • Ph.D.’s and Postdoctoral Students: Fall is the time that most employers seek candidates with your qualifications. Many do not return during the spring semester.
  • December B.S. Graduates: It is imperative that you be well organized, informed and actively seek employment in the fall season.
  • May – August B.S./M.S. Graduates: It is highly advisable to begin interviewing in the fall season. Because many employers do not recruit in both fall and spring, it is wise to begin in the fall. Interviewing in the fall is a good hedge against light spring recruiting schedules.

Preparation for Interviewing

  • Register with the SCS Career Services Office.
  • You will be given complete instructions once you are registered in the office.
  • Request a copy of your transcript. Transcripts may be ordered from Records Service Center, Admissions and Records Building, 901 West Illinois Street, Urbana for $5. Make a few copies to have available to take to interviews for the companies asking for them. Go to the Office of Registrar to order transcripts via the web. This option is only available to current or former Illinois students. Additionally, your Handshake @ Illinois instructions include steps to obtain an unofficial transcript through the Banner Enterprise system.
  • Check Handshake @ Illinois to find times and dates for workshops on interviewing, résumé/CV writing, etc.

Summer Employment

You will be able to revise your résumé/profile throughout your academic career and be able to use it for full-time recruiting.

You may click on the Student Employment link at the top of the page on the Financial Aid web site.

Cooperative Education in Chemical Sciences

During the fall and spring recruiting season a number of companies plan to interview for co-op and intern students. If you are at least 1 ½ years from graduation, consider registering with Handshake @ Illinois early so that you can sign-up for recruitment interviews.

Résumé Referrals

Many employers that will be interviewing on campus will use Handshake @ Illinois to view résumés. They may send/e-mail letters of invitations to candidates based upon résumés they have the opportunity to review.

Résumés are available to employers for their perusal all year. It is to your benefit to have your résumé correct at all times.

The best strategy is to complete your résumé and have it uploaded in our database at least one full semester before you intend to participate in on-campus interviewing.

It is your responsibility to regularly update your profile on Handshake @ Illinois. If you do not have current information, employers will have a difficult time getting in touch with you.

ALWAYS INCLUDE YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS ON THE TOP OF YOUR RÉSUMÉ. Employers regularly use e-mail correspondence rather than phone and mail.

Academic Opportunities

Academic Opportunities are now posted to Handshake @ Illinois.

Job Choices

Each year the office supplies copies of this very useful book (NACE’s Job Choices) to students interviewing for full time employment. Each volume consists of alphabetical, occupational, and geographic indices of hundreds of companies. There are also several articles that may be of assistance to you as you begin your job search. These NACE manuals are free to those registered in the office.

International Students

Some employers may require US citizenship or Permanent Residency due to the nature of their business and will so state in the announcement of their campus visit. Students must currently hold the required work authorization to qualify to interview with those employers.

Additional Placement Offices

The links below may also be of help to you.

Engineering Career Services
The Career Center