The “Art” of interviewing requires advance preparation and an understanding of the important role that
strong communication skills play in this process. Motivation, enthusiasm, and competent communication
skills are key attributes to market in the interview. The following information provides a comprehensive
overview of the interviewing process. Additional information is readily available in the Career Resource
Center, and via many career-related Web sites.
company and help formulate questions to
Different Types of Interviews ask the employer. Not Having Clear Goals. Have a short-2. term and long-term career goal. You do not
have to know what you will be doing every Basic Clarification: The aim is to achieve
year until you are 40, but knowing what you greater understanding of what you claim in your
want to do beyond "just graduating in resume as your education, experience, or
May/December" is critical. accomplishments, as well as your goals and
expectations of your manager or the company. 3. Not Having Business-Related Answers.
Behavioral: The aim is to test whether you If an interviewer asks you to give an have encountered challenges similar to those example of your ability to deal with a anticipated in the work place and how you difficult individual, rather than answering handled them. “well, my roommate…”, instead use an
example from a past work experience. Your Case Interviews: The aim is to test whether answer should be more business related, you can comprehend a complex set of facts, dealing with your work experience or work create a framework for analyzing them, and from a student organization that could be arrive at a logical and useful conclusion. business related. Show that you are thinking Group Interviews: The aim is to test maturity, outside of the “West End Bubble.”
self-marketing abilities, leadership, and team orientation. Conducted as part of the on-site
interview, the process may include multiple Interviewing Tips
candidates and interviewers, and team building
exercises. This process also takes place as part of interviewing meals and receptions. ? Remember that interviewers are looking
at you from a different perspective. "What
type of presence does this person have?
Would I feel confident placing this student Three Common
in front of my peers, his peers, potential Interviewing Mistakes clients, and my bosses?"
? Don't be afraid to clarify a point or According to recruiters, the top three question in an interview. Ask the mistakes Vanderbilt students make are…. interviewer to re-read the question or ask
specifics. 1. Not Researching the Company or
Position. This does not mean you have to ? Take something to write with and write
memorize the annual report or the on. Use a nice folder or a leather portfolio.
company's Web page. Look for current news ? Have prepared questions to ask and at: www.cnnfn.com, hints/tips to yourself written down when you www.smartmoney.com, or go into an interview. You can also take http://finance.yahoo.com. These sites are notes while the interviewer is talking and great ways to find information on a
develop additional questions from pressure is crucial in any work environment. information you learn in the interview. Your ability to handle stress in the interview
can demonstrate your ability to handle stress ? If you need to take a moment to think of
on the job. your best answer, do so. Interviewers
appreciate a well-informed answer versus a 4. Dress appropriately--first impressions
rushed response that does not answer the affect your chances of communicating question. effectively. A well-groomed, conservative
appearance, consistent with the work ? Provide detail in your answers. A “yes” environment, demonstrates your or “no” will not do. Use the STAR Method compatibility with the company and assists discussed later. in developing a rapport with the interviewer. ? Look over sample interview questions in 5. Arrive early--you will have the opportunity advance and formulate how you would to get a small picture of the operation. You answer each one. will appear eager and prepared! ? Be prepared with documentation. Many employers ask for a transcript and/or an During the Interview
application. Be sure to bring the most
1. Be yourself--compatibility is a two-way updated copies with you to the interview.
street. If you feel you must put on an act to ? Always be professional, even if you know please the interviewer, it is unlikely that a the interviewer on a personal level. This good match exists. includes when writing thank you letters/e-2. Be positive--you need not offer negative mails. information. When it does come up, be factual and do not offer excuses. Relate lessons you learned as a result of past The Basics of failures to demonstrate your maturity and Successful Interviewing judgment. 3. Listen attentively--answering the
interviewer's questions effectively depends Before the Interview
entirely upon your ability to hear the
1. Know yourself and your goals--question. You must be prepared to address communication of your skills, talents, the issues raised in your interview as well as interests, past successes, and settings in specific questions. which you thrive allows the interviewer to 4. Speak clearly and make good eye contact-assess your overall communication abilities -assessment of your composure, confidence, and suitability for the opening/company. and oral communication skills is enhanced 2. Know the employer and the position--when you can meet the interviewer eye-to-knowledge of a company's corporate climate, eye and express yourself clearly in the financial stability, product/service, size, and interview. reputation allows you to present your 5. Stress your compatibility with the compatibility with the company. job/company and your ability to do well--Knowledge about the position, including the interviewer will be interested in concrete qualifications and duties, can be researched examples of specific strengths, skills, or by reading the job description and looking abilities you bring to the job. Relate past on the company’s Web site under their successes enthusiastically. careers section. Refer to Chapter 5 to find 6. Ask questions--you will be expected to seek more information on how to research information from the interviewer about the potential employers. company, job responsibilities, work 3. Anticipate tough questions and have environment, competitors, corporate culture, answers prepared--remaining cool under and standards of performance leading to
growth within the company. Your questions behavioral interviewing in 1986 at several sites
should demonstrate your interest, sincerity, and has since implemented it company wide. and preparation. Allow the interviewer to
Behavioral vs. Traditional Interviews bring up issues regarding salary and benefits. 7. Remember proper etiquette--social skills If you have training or experience with demonstrated in an interview are an traditional interviewing techniques, you may indicator of your ability to represent the find the behavioral interview quite different in employer in the workplace. Companies want several ways: to hire individuals who will fit in easily. ? Instead of asking how you would behave in After the Interview a particular situation, the interviewer will ask you to describe how you did behave. Follow up with a thank you letter--not ? Expect the interviewer to question and probe. only is it proper, it also reminds the Think of "peeling the layers from an onion.” interviewer of your interest in the ? The interviewer will ask you to provide opening/company. details, and will not allow you to theorize or
generalize about several events.
? The interview will be a more structured Are You Ready for a
process that will concentrate on areas that Behavioral Interview? are important to the interviewer, rather than allowing you to concentrate on areas that you may feel are important. "Tell me about a time when you were on a team ? You may not get a chance to deliver any and one of the members wasn't carrying his or prepared stories. her weight." If this is one of the leading ? Most interviewers will be taking copious questions in your job interview, you could be in notes throughout the interview. for a behavioral interview. Based on the premise that the best way to predict future behavior is to The behavioral interviewer has been trained to determine past behavior, this style of objectively collect and evaluate information, and interviewing is gaining wide acceptance among works from a profile of desired behaviors that recruiters. are needed for success on the job. Because the
behaviors a candidate has demonstrated in Today, more than ever, every hiring decision is
previous similar positions are likely to be critical. Behavioral interviewing is designed to
repeated, you will be asked to share situations in minimize personal impressions that can affect
which you may or may not have exhibited these the hiring decision. By focusing on the
behaviors. Your answers will be tested for applicant's actions and behaviors, rather than
accuracy and consistency. subjective impressions that can sometimes be misleading, interviewers can make more If you are an entry-level candidate with no accurate hiring decisions. previous related experience, the interviewer will
look for behaviors in situations similar to those One Manager of Staff Planning and College
of the target position: Relations for Occidental Chemical Corporation in Dallas, says, "Although we have not ? "Describe a major problem you have faced conducted any formal studies to determine and how you dealt with it." whether retention or success on the job here has
? "Give an example of when you had to work been affected, I feel our move to behavioral
with your hands to accomplish a task or interviewing has been successful. It helps
project." concentrate recruiters' questions on areas
? "What class did you like the most? What did important to our candidates' success within
you like about it?" Occidental." The company introduced
his assignments. I finally met with him in private, Follow-up questions will test for consistency explained the frustration of the rest of the team, and determine if you exhibited the desired and asked what I could do to help him become behavior in that situation: more committed to the assignment. He told me
he was preoccupied with another class that he
wasn't passing, so I found someone to help him ? "Can you give me an example?"
with the other course. He not only was able to ? "What did you do?"
spend more time on our project, but he was also ? "What did you say?"
grateful to me for helping him out. We finished ? "What were you thinking?" our project on time, and got a 'B' on it." ? "How did you feel? ? "What was your role?" The interviewer might then probe: "How did you ? "What was the result?" feel when you confronted this person?" "Exactly what was the nature of the project?" "What was You will notice an absence of such questions as, his responsibility as a team member?" "What "Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses." was your role?" "At what point did you take it upon yourself to confront him?" You can see it How to Prepare for a Behavioral Interview is important that you not make up or "shade" information, and why you should have a clear ? Recall recent situations that show favorable memory of the entire experience. behaviors or actions, especially involving course work, work experience, leadership, Don't Forget the Basics teamwork, initiative, planning, and customer service. ? Instead of feeling anxious or threatened by ? Prepare short descriptions of each situation; the prospect of a behavioral interview, be ready to give details if asked. remember the essential difference between ? Be sure each story has a beginning, a middle, the traditional interview and the behavioral and an end. Try answering the question interview: the traditional interviewer may using the STAR method, which helps you to allow you to project what you might or systematically discuss the situation, task, should do in a given situation, whereas the action, and result. Please see the next page behavioral interviewer is looking for past for an example. actions only. ? Be sure the outcome or result reflects positively on you (even if the result itself ? It will always be important to put your best was not favorable). Focus on lessons learned, foot forward and make a good impression on personal growth, and maturity. the interviewer with appropriate attire, good ? Be honest. Don't embellish or omit any part grooming, a firm handshake, and direct eye of the story. The interviewer will find out if contact. your story is built on a weak foundation. ? Be specific. Don't generalize about several ? There is no substitute for promptness, events; give a detailed accounting of one courtesy, preparation, enthusiasm, and a event. positive attitude. A possible response to the question, "Tell me about a time when you were on a team and a member wasn't pulling his or her weight," might go as follows: "I had been assigned to a team to build a canoe out of concrete. One of our team members S. T. A. R. Interviewing Tips wasn't showing up for our lab sessions or doing
The purpose of a case interview question is for
employers to see how you think on your feet. Use the STAR interview technique to
They ask these type of questions to see how you paint a word picture of yourself to potential
can handle yourself under pressure. Case employers.
interview questions test for a variety of skill sets, including decision-making skills (such as S Situation analytical thinking and problem solving), Recently I was part of a group project in my personal skills (such as attention to detail and Organizational Communications class. We had adaptability), and influencing skills (such as an assignment to design an effective public negotiation and teamwork). There really is no relations campaign for a fictitious company. wrong answer to a case interview question; it is
more about how you process the information and
the strategy you use to answer the question. T Task Case interview questions are typically asked We chose to market a bank that was opening a during second round interviews in the finance, new office in a small community. We had to consulting, and management industries. come up with a marketing plan and media kit designed to introduce the company to its new Below are the different types of case interview community and to solicit new bank customers. questions and the correct approach to answering these questions. A Action Case Studies As the project team leader, I set up an These types of questions are more practical in appointment with the Director of Marketing at nature and are about a typical situation that XYZ Bank and got her insight on the project. would happen at that organization. The After the meeting, I came up with a creative interviewer is trying to gauge your logical marketing plan, which was enthusiastically thinking skills and general business sense. An received by the other group members. I then interview of this nature typically lasts for about assigned each group member a particular task, an hour. For instance, a healthcare consulting based on his or her area of expertise. For company may ask you to discuss how you would example, one member of our group was gather information and measure results about responsible for designing the bank’s logo and patient wait times in the emergency room of a another member was responsible for writing a hospital. Take the following approach when you press release. I monitored the group’s progress are answering these types of case questions: to make sure we were meeting our deadlines and also put together a strong oral presentation to 1. Analyze the problem – observe the situation,
make to the class. look at reports, interview people involved,
check in with your team and project
manager for ideas or best practices. R Result 2. Gather information – develop a standard set The project was fun and allowed me to develop of questions so you can analyze and report the management skills necessary to lead a very findings consistently. diverse group of six people. The most 3. Develop solutions – suggest multiple rewarding part was that our group received the solutions, cover trends and expenses, highest marks in the class, and the professor understand employees concerns. currently uses our project materials as an 4. Present ideas – explain solutions, data, and example for his classes. the approach that was used, point out or explain what the benefits are to the client, offer a compelling argument. Case Interviewing 5. Implement ideas – talk to the employees, show that the consulting team is interested
in working with them and not just the take a couple minutes to think through and
solution, follow-up on solution after formulate your answer. Be articulate and
implementation, measure results. organized! It’s okay to take a few minutes to prepare; don’t get frustrated! Analytic Questions ? Ask the interviewer clarification questions These interviewing questions are less practical, and check in with them when you are and focus more on your reasoning ability and answering (“Is this what you are looking quick thinking. They are more of the brainteaser for?”). or riddle type and don’t take as long to answer ? The interviewer is looking for someone who as a case study. The interviewer is interested in is a logical thinker. Be sure your answers how you solve the problem, not the solution. are concise and organized! For instance, a management consulting firm may ? Remember that the interviewer is looking ask you to strategize how you would figure out for how you analyze the problem and not how many barber shops are in Chicago. Or, an how much you know about the industry. investment banking firm may ask you why a manhole cover is round. Take the following Resources approach when you are answering these types of ? Stockamp & Associates (a healthcare case interview questions: consulting company) has a taped mock case interview study on file in the Career 1. Ask questions – if you are unsure of what Resource Center at 110 Alumni Hall. the interviewer is looking for. Remember ? Books in the Career Resource Center that there is no right answer; you are simply include Vault Guide to Finance Interviews, working with assumptions. For instance, in The Harvard College Guide to Consulting determining how many barber shops are in Case Questions, and The Insiders Guide to Chicago, you need to assume how many Management Consulting (these books give people live in Chicago and go from there. examples of questions and answers). The organization isn’t looking for you to ? Wall Street Journal know the exact number, they are just ? Business Week looking for how you formulate the answer. ? www.stockamp.com 2. Use problem-solving skills – show that you
? www.bain.com are thinking logically and that the answer
? www.bcg.com you come up with follows an organized way
? www.vault.com of thinking. Think out loud so the
interviewer sees your progression. If the ? www.wetfeet.com
answer requires quantitative reasoning, write down how you would figure the answer and
Pre-Interview Personal explain it to the interviewer.
3. Be creative – the employer wants to see you Reflection Questions
come up with creative approaches to solving
the problem. They are looking for you to
see the big picture and to look outside of the Thinking about the following questions will
box. help you describe your work characteristics
that will be valuable to an employer. Tips ? There is never a wrong answer to a case Do you set high standards for yourself and interviewing question. persevere to achieve your goals? Any
? Know some basic business jargon and what evidence of high achievement such as
it means, such as profit and loss, return on academic honors, varsity athletics, awards in
investment, revenues, market share, etc. music or the arts, is a sign that you set high ? Take notes when the interviewer is standards and have the discipline to endure
explaining the case, and don’t be afraid to long periods of training and practice for
deferred gratification. If you are goal-oriented,
you will speak in terms of achievements rather variety of work or travel experiences, you than in terms of effort expended or functions have learned to adjust to new situations and performed. Are you sensitive to others’ unfamiliar circumstances. Do you have the capacity to be loyal? In feelings and cheerful and thoughtful in your
your life so far have you committed yourself interaction with colleagues? Almost all work
to people and to organizations? Are you loyal requires that you relate to other people.
to your friends, to your college, to former Employers look for people whom they enjoy.
employers, to your family, to your hometown? They look for applicants who will be
It is not what you have been loyal to, but compatible with colleagues and clients.
whether you have the capacity to be loyal which will interest employers. If you are Do you have a high level of energy and are negative and critical about your past jobs and you able to channel it into productive effort? associations, employers fear you might be that People who lead busy lives engaging in a way about their organization. variety of activities and yet meeting their
responsibilities and deadlines are people with
Do you have high expectations of yourself? high energy levels and self-discipline.
Do you have high aspirations? Employers ask
what you hope to be doing in five or ten years Are you cooperative? Do you take
to get an indication of how ambitious you are. instruction well and work well with others?
Experience in working with others on projects
These are all qualities in which varying and programs or in team sports teaches you to
degrees may be important to an employer as be an effective team member.
he/she evaluates candidates for a particular
position in his/her organization. In your job Do you have the ability to lead, to organize,
hunt you should be prepared to communicate and to supervise other people? Leadership
to employers through your written materials experience in any kind of organization
and your interview the work qualities and provides you with the opportunity to develop
competencies that you have developed.leadership skills. Be sure your resume
describes the leadership experiences you have.
Do you take initiative? Do you wait to be Sample Interview Questions instructed before you act or do you act on your own, thinking through new ways to get the job
done? The ENDICOTT REPORT includes fifty
questions asked by employers during interviews
with college seniors. These questions are “basic Have you had the experience of losing as
well as winning? Are you able to lose and clarification” questions. Think about how you continue to give your best effort? Experience would answer each question and test out your in winning and losing comes most answers with friends, mentors, and your career dramatically in athletics, but there are other adviser. competitive activities in which you may have
won and lost. 1. What are your long-range and short-range Are you curious? Do you seek new goals and objectives, when and why did you adventures? Are you excited about learning establish these goals, and how are you new skills and knowledge? Are you excited preparing yourself to achieve them?
about assuming new responsibilities and 2. What specific goals have you established for learning to become more productive? Starting yourself for the next ten years? a new job in a new environment with new 3. What do you see yourself doing five years people is a risky adventure. If you have had a from now?
4. What do you really want to do in life? 31. What changes would you make at your 5. What are your long-range career goals? college or university? Why? 6. How do you plan to achieve your career 32. Do you have plans for continued study?
goals? 33. Do you think that your grades are a good 7. What are the most important rewards you indication of your academic achievement?
expect in your career? 34. What have you learned from participation in 8. What do you expect to be earning in five extra-curricular activities?
years? 35. In what kind of a work environment are you 9. Why did you choose the career for which most comfortable?
you are preparing? 36. How do you work under pressure? 10. Which is more important to you, the money 37. In what part-time or summer jobs have you
or the type of job? been most interested? Why? 11. What do you consider to be your greatest 38. How would you describe the ideal job for
strengths and weaknesses? you following graduation? 12. How would you describe yourself? 39. Why did you decide to seek a position with 13. How do you think a friend or professor who this company?
knows you well would describe you? 40. What do you know about our company? 14. What motivates you to put forth your 41. What two or three things are most important
greatest effort? to you in your job? 15. How has your college experience prepared 42. Are you seeking employment in a company
you for your career? of a certain size? Why? 16. Why should I hire you? 43. What criteria are you using to evaluate the 17. What qualifications do you possess that company for which you hope to work?
make you think that you will be successful? 44. Do you have a geographical preference? 18. How do you determine or evaluate success? 45. Will you relocate? 19. What do you think it takes to be successful 46. Are you willing to travel?
in a company like ours? 47. Are you willing to spend at least six months 20. In what ways do you think you can make a as a trainee?
contribution to our company? 48. Why do you think you might like to live in 21. What qualities should a successful manager the community in which our company is
possess? located? 22. Describe the relationship that should exist 49. What major problems have you encountered
between a supervisor and those reporting to and how did you deal with them?
him or her. 50. What have you learned from your mistakes? 23. What two or three accomplishments have
given you the most satisfaction? Why? 24. Describe your most rewarding college Interviewers’ Questions and experience. Their Purpose 25. If you were hiring for this position, what qualities would you look for? 26. Why did you select your college or Is the person prepared? Organized and university? concise? 27. What led you to choose your major or field 1. Tell me about yourself. of study? 2. Did you bring your resume? Transcript? 28. What college subjects did you like best? References? Why? 3. What do you know about our organization? 29. What college subjects did you like least? 4. According to your definition of success, Why? how successful have you been so far? 30. If you could do so, how would you plan your academic study differently? Why? Is this person mature and self-aware?
5. In your current or last position, what were 30. What are you doing to reach your career your most significant accomplishments? In objectives? your career so far? 31. What kind of hours do you expect to work? 6. Had you thought of leaving your present Does the person match job and criteria? position before? If yes, what do you think 32. What would you do for us? held you there? 33. What has your experience been in 7. Would you describe a few situations in supervising people? which your work was criticized? 34. Are you a good supervisor? Give an 8. If I spoke with your previous boss, what example. Why do you feel you have would he or she say are your greatest management potential? strengths and weaknesses? 35. How have you helped to increase sales or 9. How would you describe your personality? profits? Reduced costs? 10. What are your strong points? (Mention 3 or 36. Explain your experience with managing 4 and have 1 in resume.) money/a budget. Largest budget 11. What are your weak points? (Mention one responsibility? and have one in resume.) 37. Describe some situations in which you’ve 12. How did you do in school? worked under pressure or met deadlines.
38. In your previous position, what problems Is the person motivated? What are his/her
have you identified that have previously values, attitudes? Is there a fit?
been overlooked? 13. In your current or last position, what
39. Give an example of how you have been features did you like the most? What
creative. features did you like the least?
40. Give examples of times when you were a 14. What do you look for in a job?
leader. 15. How long would it take you to make a
41. What are your goals in your career? meaningful contribution to the firm?
42. What position do you expect to hold in two 16. How long would you stay with us?
years? 17. If you have never supervised anyone, how
43. What are your objectives? do you feel about assuming those
responsibilities? How does the person handle stress? What is 18. Why do you want to become a supervisor? their confidence level? 19. What do you see as the most difficult task in 44. Why should we hire you? being a supervisor? 45. You may be overqualified or too 20. Why are you leaving your present job? experienced for the position we have to offer. 21. Describe what would be an ideal working 46. Why haven’t you found a position before environment. now? 22. How would you evaluate your present firm? 47. Do you have any objections to taking a 23. Do you prefer working with numbers or psychological test? working with words? 48. If you could start again, what would you do 24. How would your co-workers describe you? differently? 25. How would you describe a previous 49. How would you structure this job? supervisor? 50. How much do you expect to earn, if we offer 26. Why do you want to work in a company of this position to you? this size? Of this type? 27. If you had your choice of jobs and What is this person’s market value? companies, where would you go? 51. What kind of salary are you worth? 28. If you were to design the perfect first job for 52. What other type of companies are you yourself, what would it be? considering? 29. What was the last book you read? Movie 53. How have you kept up in your field? you saw? Sporting event you attended?
What are the guidelines to follow during an Tips for Telephone Interviews interview?
It is okay to take a few minutes to compose yourself if the call comes unexpectedly. Excuse Who conducts telephone interviews and why? yourself to turn down loud television or stereo Employers may choose to conduct telephone equipment. If roommates or guests are in the interviews for several reasons: room, you may want to go to another room with ? To screen applicants, make first cuts, or a telephone extension so you will not be determine if they want to arrange a face-to-distracted. face interview. ? To interview for an internship position. This Take a deep breath and return to the phone may be the only interview for an internship. composed. Remember, this is a REAL interview ? Students may initiate a phone interview as and all the usual guidelines apply.
part of their job search to conduct an
GUIDELINES informational or networking interview.
? Sit up straight and smile. Your composure
When does a telephone interview occur? comes through even when the caller can't
A telephone interview may result from several see you. Make an effort to sound alert and different situations. "perky.” ? You are networking and the employer ? Do not eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum
begins a screening process immediately. during the interview. The sounds of these ? You are called because you submitted a activities carry over the phone.
resume and cover letter. ? Do not be overly relaxed or familiar just ? You and the employer have arranged a because you are sitting at home. Use the
specific time for the interview. interviewer's surname (e.g. Ms. Smith). ? Immediately write down the interviewer(s) How do you prepare for a telephone interview? name(s). There may be more than one The unexpected interview - person interviewing you (via speaker phone). While you are conducting your job or internship ? Do not answer other calls received through search, be prepared for the "unexpected" call waiting during the interview. telephone interview. A call may come in at any ? Speak clearly and directly into the phone. time. ? Take notes. Jot down key words of the questions as they are asked of you so you Check the message on your answering machine.
can be sure you are addressing the important Is it professional? Is it the type of greeting that
elements. Also, keep track of how you you would want an employer to hear?
answered questions and information you are Remember, first impressions stick. Keep a copy
given about the employer. These notes will of your resume, your calendar, and note cards
be valuable when you are preparing for the with information about all the employers you are
face-to-face interview. actively pursuing by the telephone. Have
? Do not talk too much. Keep up your end of notepaper and a pen to take notes during the
the conversation and answer all questions in conversation. You may want to have copies of
full but don't ramble. Try to pick up cues correspondence you have sent or received from
from the employer in terms of how the employer to remind you of your current
extensive your answers should be. You status. might ask, occasionally, something like, The scheduled interview - "Does that answer your question?" or If your telephone interview is scheduled in "Would you like for me to elaborate advance, be at your phone early and be prepared further?" to be available for a longer period of time (e.g., ? Do not give "yes" or "no" answers if more the call may be scheduled from 5:00-5:30, but detail is needed. Remember that this is your might actually take place 5:10-6:00.)