Interviews can be daunting. Even if you're qualified for the position, you have make sure you present your qualifications properly if you want to get an offer. Preparation is key, and just a few hours can pay off exponentially.
Over the years I’ve had career coaches, read books, and done more mock interviews than I can count. In an effort to spare you a similar fate, I’ve put together some of my top interview tips so that you can ace yours without having to suffer!
- Company Background
- Industry Background
- Personal Narrative
- Basic Questions
- Behavioral Questions
- Case-based questions
- Final Tips
1. Company Background
To prove to the employer you’re passionate about the position, you need to show them your knowledge of the company. Where is it located? How does it make its money? Look into its cost drivers and revenue streams. What is its competitive advantage over other firms?
Look at the company’s website and learn more about its history and values. Every company has 4-5 “core values” by which it operates. Memorize these, and make bridges between them and yourself. Find an example of when you have exemplified each value.
2. Industry Background
Find out about the trends in the industry, and what challenges they pose for your company. Also, look into your firm’s key competitors and what competitive advantages they have over your company.
Ex: Revlon in London
Retail is down, but online sales are increasing due to consumer preferences. More specifically, the UK high street retail is taking a hit because of the uncertainty caused by Brexit; people are less willing to spend their disposable income. Consumer preferences also show an increase in anti-aging and natural beauty with a decrease in heavy cosmetics. Revlon is smaller than L’Oréal and Estée Lauder, and it’s being hit harder by the industry’s dip, but its acquisition of Elizabeth Arden has been a significant help.
3. Personal Narrative
Make bullet points about yourself and practice until you can do it in your sleep. When they say, “tell me about yourself,” you should be so ready with your answer that it seems completely natural, even though you’ve practiced it a million times. Mention where you’re from, but don’t spend time lamenting on things you did in high school unless you just graduated. If you don’t have much formal work experience, talk about your volunteer projects or student organizations.
Don’t make it too long! I got called out in an interview once for mentioning too much—they have your resume and have read it, so just hit the high points and add things that they don’t know yet!
- Born/raised in Atlanta, GA
- Altman scholar at Tulane
- 16 graduating with a dual-degree in May
- Business school: Marketing and Blockchain
- Liberal Arts: International Relations
- Opportunities abroad
- Finance: Hanoi, Vietnam
- International relations: Seville
- Business and blockchain: Madrid
- Summer before JYA: Revlon in London
- Marketing intern for designer fragrances: OUI Juicy Couture
- Company was struggling, anticipating risk
- Last summer: Walgreens Boots Alliance in NYC
- No7 brand strategy intern
- Product and strategy assessment: suitability and feasibility to US market
- Me as a worker
- Love public speaking
- Work well with uncertainty and ambiguity
- Dream of living/working in London
4. Basic Questions
Some basic questions I’ve been asked:
- *ALWAYS* Why this company?
- Refer to things your learned during your research
- A great time to pull out the bridges you created between their values and yourself!
- *ALWAYS* Why this position?
- Go through the job spec and create more bridges with yourself. There will be a list of things they are looking for (adaptable, good communicator, use of XYZ program)
- Come up with examples of when you’ve fulfilled each one of their desired qualifications
- Greatest accomplishment
- Be sure to show what you’re doing to work on this, ways you’re combating this weakness
- Something not on your resume that you want them to know about
4. Behavioral Questions
These are questions such as “tell me about a time when you…”
You’re going to need to have a lot of anecdotes and examples of past experience ready. To do this, I like to make what I call "buckets" for my stories to fit into. Within each of these buckets, think of experiences in your past that fit.
- Leading a team
- Challenged a process
- Worked within a team
- Had to help a teammate
- Experienced conflict within your team
- Resolved conflict
- A time you failed
- A time you were criticized by your boss
- A time that you had integrity
- A time that you lacked motivation
Then, I like to go the other way. I make a list of my past work experiences and list the buckets that those experiences fit into.
- USG: Student life committee
- Not on My Campus
- Not on My Campus
- Blockchain Project Madrid
- Conflict/Handling Stress/Dealing with challenges
- USG: FLP conflict resolution
- Conflict: WBA Global v North America
- WBA: dealing with Brexit, stagnant UK market
- Goal setting
- WBA Derm project
- Revlon creative requests ○ Not on my campus
- Failure/mistakes/problems at work
- Revlon Candice audit
- WBA wrong formula calculation
- Walgreens Boots Alliance
- Working with ambiguity
- Conflict at work
- Innovated a process
- Greatest work achievement
- Presenting to global in Nottingham
- Challenge under pressure
- Meeting deadlines
- Time management
- Made a mistake
- Student Government
- Disagreeing with team members
- Dealing with change, ambiguity
- Working with diversity
- Handling conflict- FLP conflict
5. Case-based Questions
These are the trickiest questions, but don’t worry, they would tell you if you needed to be ready for these. There are two types: market-sizing and company-based.
- Market sizing: How many Apple Pay transactions were processed in the U.S. in 2018?
- Break down based on U.S. population, estimated number of people with iPhones… etc.
- Company-based: Company XYZ in the soda industry is experiencing decreased profits. What can they do to fix this?
- Profit formula = Revenues – Costs
- Come up with examples of how to increase revenues and decrease costs based on industry
If you know you’re going to need to complete a case interview, especially within the consulting industry, I highly recommend the book Case in Point by Marc Cosentino. It saved me!
6. Final Tips
Be sure to have educated, practiced questions for them at the end of the interview. They will no doubt ask you, “Do you have any questions for us?” If you don’t, that will be a strike against you. Find something interesting during your company analysis and ask them about it.
Be enthusiastic!! Show them that you’re eager to learn, you’re willing to do even the smallest of tasks, and that their company is your #1.
Preparing for an interview isn’t easy, but there’s no better feeling than leaving an interview knowing that you really impressed them. I hope these tips helped and that you feel like you have a good start on your preparation!
Best of luck! x