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FAQs About the On-Campus Interviewing [OCI] Program

  • Jobs and internships are posted throughout the year, so you can continuously view and apply. 
  • Note that SOME of the jobs in Handshake are part of the On-Campus Interviewing (OCI) Program which runs for nine weeks in fall semester and seven weeks in spring semester. 
  • OCI does not run all year; Handshake DOES run all year.
  • Your resume does not automatically go to all the employers who interview through On-Campus Interviewing (OCI). If that happened, those employers couldn't possibly review the volume of resumes and wouldn't know which students really want to work for them.
  • To have your resume go to a particular employer, you must, in Handshake, view and apply for each job that interests you; when you apply for a job, your resume is sent to the employer with that job.
  • That is possible, if you have posted your resume, and your resume looks good, and you have the qualifications the employer is seeking.
  • You should also take the active steps of searching for positions of interest and applying to those jobs.
  • Caution: We do see some resumes submitted that are not written to make the best impression on employers; we have occasionally had employers contact us to complain.
  • Good news: We can help you. Every Virginia Tech student can create a good-quality resume if you use our guidelines for writing your resume, have your resume reviewed through advising, and make revisions until you've got a competitive document. (Also read our Career Planning Guide (online version or free hardcopy by visiting our office), for resume guidelines and job search information.)
  • That will be specified in each individual job. 
  • If a cover letter is required, the instructions will state this, and you should submit a letter customized to that employer and that job. 
  • If nothing is stated about a cover letter, then you don't need one to apply to that specific job. 
  • Learn more about writing cover letters.


Career fairs are typically one-day or two-day events.
There are now up to 20 different VT-affiliated career fairs each year. Fairs are annual events that take months of planning. Each fair has its own purpose and sponsor — most are sponsored by an academic department or college. Some of the career fairs do include next-day interviews that are scheduled during the fair, so that is a quick turn-around on scheduling. See the career fairs list to learn more about each fair, and see how to prepare for career fairs.

OCI runs for eight weeks in fall, and seven weeks in spring, so that adds up to about 80 days of interviewing — different employers traveling to campus throughout those weeks. See the schedule of dates and deadlines. For OCI, you use Handshake online to complete your profile, post your resume, and apply for jobs. You apply for jobs about four weeks before the interview — so the timeline for this process is longer.

  • Some  do and some don't.
  • For career fairs:
    Look at the career fairs list. Within a week or two prior to each fair, the sponsor should post the employers attending on their website. (CPD sponsors two fairs in fall and two in spring. The many other fairs are sponsored primarily by VT academic colleges and departments.) 
  • For OCI:
    To see which employers are participating in On-Campus Interviewing: in Handshake, select "Jobs" and then "On-Campus Interviews." That will display a list, ordered by interview date (and showing the application deadline), of all employers who have scheduled OCI dates thus far; continue to  check to see additional employers who may schedule future dates. For more details, see find and apply for OCI jobs.
  • Probably both.
  • Some employers attend career fairs to meet students and give students a chance to get to know them in advance of formal OCI.
  • If you meet an employer at a fair, and you know the employer is also doing OCI, ask the employer how one relates to the other. It could be that the same representatives of the company are handling both, or it is possible that different divisions or locations are doing separate recruiting. 
  • Just be aware that at career fairs, employers may not know all the details of OCI process for students. Follow the Handshake and OCI procedures, and please ask our employer relations staff any time you need assistance or clarification about the OCI process.

Viewing jobs:

  • In Handshake, select "Jobs" and then "On-Campus Interviews."
  • View those jobs. 
  • You may search by various criteria including major. 
  • View jobs weekly, because there are advance deadlines based on the week when interviews are scheduled. See dates and deadlines for weekly application deadline dates (Sunday midnight). Employers book their interview dates many months in advance; however, sometimes they send the final details for jobs just before the student application deadline, so checking weekly gives you the latest information.
  • For more details, see find and apply for OCI jobs.

Deciding whether to apply:

  • Read each job description to determine whether to apply. 
  • Apply for EACH job that interests you and for which you are a fit. 
  • Simply uploading your resume into Handshake is not applying; thousands of students' resumes could be uploaded, and employers do not want to review thousands of resumes; they do want to review resumes of students who express interest in a job by taking initiative to apply.
  • Do not judge a job or your qualifications SOLELY on major. If you don't match all the employer's qualifications, you could see a statement that you are not fully qualified. However, if you believe you have relevant qualifications, you may apply for that job.
  • If you search for jobs only on major, you may miss jobs that would be of interest to and a fit for you.

Waiting for employers to review applicants, and sign-up phase:

  • After students apply, employers review resumes and select students to interview (and employers may select alternates). 
  • If you are selected or chosen as an alternate, you'll be notified with instructions on how to sign up in Handshake. 
  • If selected, you are NOT required to sign up.

Attending interviews:

  • If you DO sign up, and do not cancel by the deadline, you ARE required to attend the interview. 
    Before you choose to sign up for an interview, read the Cancellation and Missed Interview Policy for Students
  • Signing up is your choice, and thus a commitment. Failure to attend is discourteous and unprofessional; it steals the employer's time and money and steals the interview time from another student. 
  • If an employer reports you as a no-show, you lose the privilege to apply and sign up for future interviews.
  • Location: Most interviews are held in Smith Career Center; come to second-floor check-in and waiting area. (If the interview is in another location, you'll be notified.)

Dates and deadlines gives you the timeline and dates for each step, based on the interview-week dates, from application to interview dates.

Information will be provided by the time interview sign-up begins.

  • Yes, the majority conduct OCI interviews once per year, and the majority interview in fall semester. 
  • Be reminded that employers come from throughout the United States, with most based in the mid-Atlantic or southeast regions of the U.S., and urban regions of Virginia, and each of these employers invests time and resources to travel to campus.
    Of all organizations that recruit through OCI:
    • About 75% make one annual visit for OCI.
    • About 25% make two OCI visits in the academic year. Some interview twice during one semester, so making two visits does not always mean they are interviewing in both fall and spring. 
    • About 70% interview only in fall semester.
    • About 40% interview only in spring semester. 
    • Note that some employers might also attend a career fair, as discussed above.
    • Keep in mind that some organizations have divisions or locations that do separate recruiting, so you may see an organization name more than once for that reason.

See OCI participation data showing past years' numbers of employers and students participating, number of interviews, and average number of interviews per student participant.

  • Yes. 
  • The majority of jobs and internships are for undergraduate students, because the majority of students at Virginia Tech (83%) are undergraduate students. 
  • The same job market realities apply to recruiting of graduate students. Not all types of employers and career fields are represented in campus recruiting activity. Employers use OCI if it is a cost-effective way to meet a critical mass of candidates. Whether or not you find jobs posted may depend on your field.
  • Employers strictly seeking doctoral-level candidates might directly contact academic departments that produce those graduates, and list positions in relevant professional publications and websites.
  • Career and Professional Development does not screen student GPAs for OCI participation.
  • Employers may state GPA preferences; some do.
  • In Handshake, if your GPA is lower than the employer's preference, you will see a statement that you do not meet all qualifications. However, you can still apply if you think your overall qualifications fit what the employer is seeking. 
  • Contrary to what anyone might tell you, there is no single GPA cutoff that applies to all of OCI. Some employers do prefer 3.0 and above; some specify 2.8, some specify 2.5; some employers don't specify a GPA preference.
  • A strong GPA is to your advantage; however, most employers hiring graduating students are looking for career-related experience during college. If you have good experience and an average GPA, you might possibly be more competitive than a student with no experience and a higher GPA.
  • Employers also look for evidence of initiative, such as extra-curricular leadership and involvement, and work experience that required good communication and interpersonal skills and customer service, experience working in teams, professional demeanor, and evidence of a strong work ethic, like working during college to contribute to your college expenses. These can also help to overcome a GPA that is not as high as you would like it to be.
  • If you are unsure how your GPA affects your chances in OCI, speak with a Career and Professional Development advisor. Your GPA should be considered in light of your other qualifications. If there is a shortage of job candidates with your skills, some employers may not be as particular about GPA as others. Also see should I include my GPA on my resume?
  • lf GPA is not your strongest qualification, you'll need to make up for this by presenting the rest of your qualifications effectively in your resume and by taking initiative in your job search, both with OCI and other job search strategies.
  • Many (but not all) of the jobs in OCI are technical, scientific, computer-related, engineering, business, sales, accounting, financial services, marketing and management. 
  • Labor market supply and demand realities apply: At Virginia Tech, the number of engineering students is almost twice the number of business students; business is the second largest college. Employers who seek those students have success in recruiting. Science is the third-largest college, and many of those graduates go to graduate or professional school as a first destination after the bachelor's degree.
  • However, there are a wide variety of opportunities in OCI, and even more non-OCI jobs in Handshake, and students can apply for jobs through OCI regardless of major — as long as you believe you have relevant qualifications. 
  • There are a significant number of employers who recruit students from almost any major, because those employers will provide their new hires with formal training and because they are seeking characteristics like work ethic, teamwork skills, interpersonal skills, etc, that are not owned by any one major. 
  • Many students with humanities, social science, and other majors are successful in OCI because they are interested in the career fields available through OCI and because they've learned to think beyond major and can show employers they have skills that match the jobs. It's important for you as a student to investigate the opportunities and actively pursue those that interest you.
  • For participation data by college, see the numbers of interviews by college.
  • Another labor market realty is that not every career field or type of employer is represented in campus recruiting activities. For example, social service positions, television broadcasting jobs, and many others are not recruited through OCI. If you are pursuing those fields, you learn the access routes. Many employers either don't have the need or don't have the resources to travel to campuses to recruit; it's expensive and time-consuming. Those employers use other means to hire. Employers use OCI if it is cost-effective to do so.

Generally, in career fields in which demand for job candidates exceeds the supply, employers must work harder to find candidates, and therefore will make the effort to recruit on campus. Even among employers who travel to campus, some will choose to attend career fairs and do interviewing during the same visit through the career fair, and not through OCI.

Generally, in career fields in which the supply of job seekers exceeds jobs available, job seekers must take the initiative to seek out employers; thus there is less need for these types of employers to travel to recruit.

Recruiting on campus costs employers time and money in travel expenses, so whether or not to use OCI is an economic decision for employers.

OCI represents a limited segment of the job market in several ways:

  • by geographic location of employers
  • by type of employer
  • by type of employment
  • by type and quality of candidates sought

OCI is driven by employer demand, and employer demand is driven by the economy.

Employers do not recruit on campus as a service to students.

Employers do recruit on campus if this is the most cost-effective way to fill their hiring needs.

Just as job seekers must network, and successful ones do, employers also network to recruit and find candidates. Use professional networking activities to seek out employers.

  • Again, some employers will choose to recruit through a career fair, and not use OCI.
  • Employers who fill positions as they come open usually need to advertise and fill positions quickly — OCI does not serve this purpose. However, those employers can search for VT resumes in Handshake, so be sure you upload your resume and make your profile visible to employers in Handshake.
  • Smaller organizations often do not have the personnel and the funds to travel to recruit on campus. Again, however, their needs can be served by searching Handshake for student resumes.
  • Geographically distant, smaller or regional organizations are less likely to have incentive to recruit on campus or seek out students at VT. Students who are targeting employers in a distant location will typically need to take initiative to seek out those employers and use job search strategies other than OCI.
  • If employers do post jobs or schedule a visit, and no students apply, the employer is unlikely to post or visit again.
  • Employers targeting very specialized candidates — such as some Ph.D.s  — might not use OCI. It's not practical. Instead, they might directly contact the departments that produce the doctoral candidates with the credentials they seek, and they may post their positions in relevant professional publications and websites.
  • Certain career fields are not represented in OCI — it's simply not a useful way for those employers to do hiring. For example, you typically will not find social service occupations, broadcasting positions, or arts management positions listed in OCI — other job search strategies are used to seek those types of jobs — see job and internship search guide for more resources.
  • There is no secret.
  • Employers look for a professional and pleasant demeanor, appropriate attire and grooming, honesty, a positive attitude, and an ability to articulate your skills and why you would like to work for the organization giving you the interview. 
  • Employers absolutely expect candidates to "do your homework," which means researching the organization in advance of the interview. 
  • If you seem like you have no real interest in, or knowledge of, the organization, the interviewer will view you as wasting his/her time regardless of how good your qualifications are. 
  • Employers are looking for a good fit, or match, between you and the job and the organization. 
  • See more about interviewing skills.
  • Hopefully you're not just looking once! Deadline pass, and new opportunities get posted. Be thorough in your search and search often. 
  • As has been stated, OCI represents a portion, not all, of the job market. It serves certain types of employers, not all. It is driven by employer demand and by the economy.
  • If you find nothing in your chosen career field in OCI, it means there are other strategies you need to use to pursue your career goals. 
  • Keep in mind that many employers post jobs in Handshake even if they don't physically travel to campus to interview through OCI.
  • Our advisors in Career and Professional Development will help you select appropriate job search strategies and develop your job search skills (resume guideinterviewing skills, and more.) 
  • Read tips for your job search.
  • Schedule an advising appointment for individual assistance with your job search. We're here to help you use the many resources available to you.

We have data for those who completed undergraduates degrees; graduates are expected to self-report their first destination after graduation.

In the late nineties, up to a fourth of Virginia Tech students found their starting post-grad jobs through on-campus interviewing. When hiring projections slow, or are uncertain, fewer employers visit campus for OCI; so the percentage varies by college and by year as the economy fluctuates.

Data below are from the First Destination Post-Graduation Report, compiled from self-report by new bachelor's degree graduates.
We ask the source of the accepted job for employed graduates (and much more).
More graduates use OCI to explore opportunities, but choose to accept offers from other sources.

Keep in mind: one of the job top sources for new grads is receiving an offer from an employer for whom they worked prior, through an internship, co-op, summer job, part-time job, volunteering, field-study, or other means. That has been the job source for 20-29% of grads in the most recent ten years.

By academic year of graduation, percent of employed graduates (total university) who identified OCI as the source of the job they accepted: (others may have had offers; this % is for accepts.)

  • 2016-2017: 7% [variance among colleges: 0-15%]
  • 2015-2016: 8% [variance among colleges: 0-15%]
  • 2014-2015: 12% [variance among colleges: 0-21%]
  • 2013-2014: 9% [variance among colleges: 0-18%]
  • 2012-2013: 9% [variance among colleges: 0-19%]
  • 2011-2012: 13% [variance among colleges: 0-25%]
  • 2010-2011: 10% [variance among colleges: 0-20%]
  • 2009-2010: 10%
  • 2008-2009: 9%
  • 2007-2008: 11%
  • 2006-2007: 11%
  • 2005-2006: 14%
  • 2004-2005: 17%
  • 2003-2004: 16%
  • 2002-2003: 12.7%
  • 2001-2002: 16.5%
  • 2000-2001: 17.9%
  • 1999-2000: 22.2%