This week I was on campus at Drexel looking for interns and college hires. It was my first time doing recruiting for Microsoft, and overall I was happy with the way the event went. There were a wide variety of students who visited the booth. Some were extremely well prepared and others were less so. I've done quite a bit of interviewing in the past and I've formed some opinions on what makes a good candidate. Please note however that I'm not a trained HR employee and this list is in no way endorsed by Microsoft.

If you're heading to a job fair on campus, here are some ways that can help you get noticed (at least if I'm standing behind the booth... every recruiter is a bit different.)

  • DO: Show Enthusiasm. If your first few sentences are delivered like Napoleon Dynamite, I'm not going to think you are very excited about the possibility of working for Microsoft. Don't be afraid to show us that technology makes you excited.
  • DO: Be Passionate. If a recruiter asks you "what do you like to do outside of class", you can mention your ant farm briefly, but then go into all the tech projects you do for hobbies. Do you enter programming contests or do consulting on the side? This shows that you have a passion for technology.
  • DO: Research! You'll probably be asked "What products are you interested in working on?" or "Why do you want to work for Microsoft?" Have answers prepared. Look through available jobs on the Internet and read about different products. Have specific answers that show you are interested. Often these questions are met with blank stares or general answers that make us think you randomly decided to drop by the booth.
  • DO: Go Early. As a first time recruiter for Microsoft, I was a bit unprepared for the crowd that a Microsoft booth attracts. By the end of the day it was a real struggle to remain focused and give every student my full attention. I noticed this when I was a student too. Early in the day, recruiters tend to chit chat more and you get more time to sell yourself. Give the recruiters 45 minutes to an hour to get ramped up and then walk in with your best sales pitch.
  • DON'T: Ask About Hours or Compensation. It's no secret that Microsoft employees work hard, but for the most part it's because we love what we're doing. When you're excited about work, the hours don't matter. Asking about typical work loads might hint to a recruiter that you're just in it for the money. Along the same lines, don't ask what typical starting salaries are. There is a time for that, but you're not there yet.

There are many more articles like this on the Internet. Spend some time before the career fair and read through the tips. Get a list of the companies that will be there and specifically target a few that are highest on your list. A little preparation and enthusiasm goes a long way in differentiating you from the other people in line.