Tim Wetzel

[follow id = ‘timawetzel’]

Undoubtedly, the most-heard phrase regarding job searches is “first impressions are everything.” We hear it from parents, friends, teachers and even that one weird neighbor you haven’t spoken to since sixth grade. Adults and pretentious teenagers pound this concept into your head from day one of your job search and never stop until you’re retired.

However, despite its overuse, it still rings true: Most recruiters don’t get more than a few minutes with each student, so every second counts. Charlotte Rinaldi, Assistant Director at Career Services, believes that students should be prepared for every interview.

“Representatives tend to look for students who know about their company,” Rinaldi said. “They want students who have done their research and are eager to work for them.”

Rinaldi continued that students should know how their skill set is relevant to a job they’re considering.

“Related experience helps, of course, so students should be able to articulate how internships, coursework or their senior project directly relate to the position they are interested in,” Rinaldi said.

But what else are these companies looking for in potential employees? Good grades? Involvement? Shorter versions of our beloved President Armstrong? Wonder no longer, Mustangs.  Here are a few of the biggest employers coming to this year’s Winter Career Fair, as well as what they’re looking for in the students they interview.


On its website, Microsoft describes itself as “the worldwide leader in software, services, devices and solutions.”  Though they will only be at the career fair on Wednesday, recruiters will be on campus both days for interviews. According to University Recruiter Sarah Bruch, Microsoft doesn’t necessarily hire only computer science majors; rather, they look for students with drive and a love for their work.

“I say we definitely want to see passion,” Bruch said. “When we talk to people who are uninterested, it almost seems like they’re viewing the interview as a chore. We hope the individuals we hire are excited to work with us, because we’re excited to work with them.”

Microsoft is attending the career fair to continue looking for students who’ve been taught to “learn by doing.” Bruch believes there are many students at Cal Poly who would be great for Microsoft.

“Historically, we’ve seen a lot of great talent come from Cal Poly,” Bruch said. “It’s definitely a university we want to continue investing in.”


Cisco is one of the largest IT companies in the nation; it comes as no surprise that they’ll be making an appearance at the career fair.

Cisco is looking for inclusive employees. Its website states, “we welcome, value and respect every employee” and expect a similar attitude from anyone they interview or hire.

At the top of Cisco’s list of interview tips is “research Cisco and the interviewers through social media and (the) Cisco website.” So be sure you’ve read up on the company; showing up unprepared might bump you down on their list of potential employees.

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

This company, whose mouthful of a name is generally referred to as PwC, is a financial consulting company whose goal is “to build public trust and enhance value for our clients and (our) stakeholders.” PwC also looks for prepared interviewees; however, it suggests that rather than reading up on the company, you should read up on your own strengths and weaknesses.

One of PwC’s top tips for potential interviews is to “be prepared to express your qualifications in an organized, logical and convincing manner.” Its recruiters aren’t looking for you to be humble in your interview, nor are they looking for you to brag; rather, their ideal employee has a very good grasp on his or her strengths and weaknesses and knows how to work off those strengths.

PwC also wants employees who know their goals. Nothing beats a motivated worker, and while it may be difficult to show your motivation in a short interview, telling your goals definitely gives your employer a better idea of where your priorities lie.

Keep in mind, every company is different. Very few companies want exactly the same type of employee, nor do very many people want exactly the same job. The best way to show a company that you’re the person it wants is — to use another common expression — to be yourself and put yourself out there.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *