Skip to main content
Communication, Art + Technology › Communication
SFU Co-op Student

empty
2 people sitting at a round white table on their laptop
Credit
Maranda Vandergriff on Unsplash
Interviews are intimidating but they’re also great places to make meaningful connections and conversation. Just take a deep breath, shake your jitters out, and tell yourself, you got this!

Whether you’re like me and have been doing Co-op for a while now, or just have had your fair share of job interviews, then you probably think you know everything there is to be prepared for one. However, I will tell you right now that, unless you have actually conducted a job interview, you most likely do not.

During my second Co-op term, I was fortunate to be involved in the hiring process for my replacement. After being an interviewee for so long, being an interviewer completely changed my perspective of the hiring process. It even compelled me to go home and alter my resume. Here are the insider tips on Co-op interviews that I feel everyone should know.

Grades don’t always matter

When applying to Co-op jobs, you need to include an attachment of your transcript which showcases the classes you took and your grades. Now this may sound intimidating, but I promise you that that one C- on your transcript is not the end of the world. When I brought up a point about a person’s grades on their transcript, my supervisor mentioned that they don’t care so much about that and like to look at special projects and accomplishments that are included instead.

No resume is fascinating, keep it eye catching and simple

Whether you’re reading through a pile of black and white printed resumes or a PDF compilation of colourful, well-designed documents, reading resumes gets boring. After reading several resumes, the eyes start to gravitate towards specific sections. One of the most prominent sections for me and the rest of the hiring committee was the special projects section.

I’m a visual learner, so it was hard for me to get an idea of who someone was just by reading a piece of paper. And to be honest, it’s hard to tell your whole story via bullet points on 2 pages. That’s why I really enjoyed it when someone hyperlinked a special project. If you hyperlink a blog post, an Instagram feed you’ve managed, a website, etc., it makes it so much easier for the hiring committee to see what you’re capable of. It can even give them a sneak peek into you as a person (especially if it’s a personal blog). Because of this, we were more likely to call someone in for an interview if they included a special project we could see because it made us easier to relate to them and see their skills put to work.

There’s a lot more to Zoom interviews than you think

For in person interviews, all you need to worry about is how you look and (maybe?) how you smell on top of all the other stressful interview questions you’ve rehearsed. However, on Zoom, you need to worry not just about how you look, but how you display your organizational skills. I understand that technology is not 100% perfect, but we could totally tell when someone wasn’t prepared if they showed up with headphones that they didn’t know how to connect (because they obviously didn’t rehearse beforehand). Make sure you know how to connect your headphones and mic so that they work to avoid all the awkward fumbling that technical difficulties can cause.

You would be surprised by how many people don’t check to see what their background looks like on camera before entering a virtual meeting room. You can tell a lot about a person by the details of their Zoom background. No matter what you do, do not include your messy bed in the frame of your Zoom background. Even worse if you have stuffed animals on it (no shame to stuffed animals, but your potential future supervisor doesn’t need to see who you cuddle to sleep).

Charisma is key

This is the most important piece of advice I could give. You got called in for an interview because the hiring committee read your resume and were impressed with your skills. However, they’re also impressed with several other people as well. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but sometimes having the skills for a job is just not enough.

Instead, use the interview as a chance not only to speak more about your skills but to flaunt your amazing personality. Show the interviewer why they want you to be part of their team and why they would want to see you every day at the office. Unless the interviewer is Ebenezer Scrooge, you need to smile, be friendly, and overall be charismatic. Interviewees who could hold a conversation, smile, laugh, and keep things lighthearted were a lot more personable and stood out from the rest of the candidates.

Interviews are intimidating but they’re also great places to make meaningful connections and conversations. Just take a deep breath, shake your jitters out, and tell yourself, you got this!

SFU Co-op Student

Posts by Author

man standing in front of sign that says "KPMG"
Blog
5 Quick Q&As with a Master of Economics Co-op Student

Meet Ata Malfuzi, an SFU Master of Economics Co-op student. In this quick Q&A, learn a little about his current role at KPMG. Keep on reading as Ata gives some insight into what the hiring process was like, what he's looking forward to the most, and some tips for students who are beginning their co-op journey. 

3 people sitting around a table with their laptops and laughing
Blog
How I Landed My Dream Co-op at a Large Tech Company

After completing 6 Co-op work terms, one thing I really enjoyed about my Co-op experience is that I had the opportunity to gain work experience from different types of organizations. I started with a 5-person non-profit organization, then to a 20-person start-up, and then landed my dream Co-op at a large 100,000+ person multinational tech corporation. One thing I’m thankful I realized early on in my Co-op journey is this: don’t be turned off from doing a Co-op with a small organization.

Person standing in front of desktop computer and laptop
Blog
A Philosophical Reflection Of My Co-op Journey

I always knew I was more of a hands-on learner than a reading and writing learner. As much as I enjoy reading, writing, and listening, the thought of rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty was just way more enticing and exciting. As my work term comes to an end, I can wholeheartedly say that I have grown professionally and personally from a timid university student to a budding young professional. 

You Might Like These... Co-operative Education

Courtney smiles next to a caption that reads, "Courtney Novotny during her work term with Health Canada".
A Second Term in Government: More of the Same?

How do Communications Co-op jobs differ between federal departments? Read all about Courtney's experiences as she compares her first co-op with Health Canada to her second co-op with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Korea
International Spotlight: Korea

Bordered by China, Russia, and separated from Japan by the Korea Strait, Korea makes for a strong international hub of Asia.

Iris at her workstation in the lab
Student Spotlight: Iris Eom

The OLC talks to Iris Eom, 3rd year MBB, Computing Science joint major. Keep reading to learn about her experience at the UBC James Hogg iCAPTURE Centre at St. Paul's Hospital.

You Might Like These... Co-op Reflections

Sonya in an office setting
Struggles of an Extrovert: Tips for Embracing your Work Environment Preferences

"Can an office be "too quiet"? Is that even a thing?" Certified extrovert Sonya shares advice for adjusting to a new workplace and explains how to conduct a thorough 'me-search'.  

person sitting beside a gold lamp, writing something down in their journal
What Learning Objectives Can Do For You

A successful Co-op work term can involve many factors, one of which is developing and working towards meeting your learning objectives. Developing a learning objective helps you to think about what you want to accomplish during your upcoming work term and begin developing a plan for how you’ll achieve success.

Kodak advertising light in Arles, France.
Tackling an Industrial Co-op: A Few Tips on Getting Started
It is natural to want to dig into work almost immediately and make good use of your skills, but the definition of productive work is quite different between the company and school work.