Students: Simple speed dating advice for your five minutes of glory

Your interview starts before you open your mouth

Treat each startup rep like they’re the person you’ve been waiting to see all day. Show enthusiasm by being ready to shake hands firmly.  Maintain eye contact and smile. Both sides should try make each other feel at ease immediately.

Think about what the startup should know about you

Some conversation points to fall back on:

  • Who you are: “Hi, I’m Jane Smith.” Granted it’s an unoriginal opening line, but it can be easy to forget in the heat of the moment).
  • What you’re studying: “I’m a 4th year electrical engineering student at Macquarie.”
  • Why you’re there: “I’m interested in your business because…”
  • What you’ve got: “The sorts of skills/experience I have are….””
  • Where you’re headed: “I’m interesting in pursuing a career in …”

So…do you like… stuff? Be curious about your interviewer and their company

Think about potential warm-up questions:

  • “What sort of things are you looking for in a student?”
  • “Tell me about your business is planning for the next 12 months.”
  • “What does an ideal candidate look like?”
  • “Why are you keen to bring on a student?”
  • “What did you study?”
  • “What made you establish your own startup?”
  • “What’s your advice for anyone who wants to start their own company?”

Leave something behind

Update your CV: Print out plenty of copies to distribute. As interviewers can meet a dozen plus candidates during a single speed dating event, a neat page or two covering your skills and experience will show that you’re prepared, and also provide a handy reference point later on.

Bring along business cards: A professional print job isn’t necessary. Employers at one event were impressed with the initiative of a student who designed and assembled her cards own using paper and cardboard.

Winding up the session

  • Indicate when you’re available to work i.e. end of semester, two days per week.
  • Thank them for their time and ask if they have a business card.
  • Offer any other relevant work samples i.e. writing examples, design portfolios, GitHub links etc.

Dressing for your ‘dates’

While you don’t need the 1980s-style power suit ensemble complete with shoulder pads (unless that’s your thing), it’s important to look polished and professional.

The night before, give yourself 10 minutes for a quick dress rehearsal and make sure your outfit is interview ready (i.e. no stains or creases).

  • Guys – think slacks/pants and button up shirt. Tie is optional. Shorts and t-shirts can look a little too casual, particularly if you’re meeting reps from larger organisations.
  • Ladies – women always have more variety (and let’s face it, more fun) when it comes to clothes. Skirts, pants, blouses – basically anything which is neat and not too revealing.