Quick and dirty guide to acing your interviews

By Pri Bakshi '16

Pri Bakshi '16

Pri Bakshi '16

All those corporate conversations, networking events, coffee chats and perhaps a career trek – it all comes down to the moment when you finally face the interviewer from your dream company. An all-important grand finale, if you will.

The thought can be intimidating. But, fear not! Here’s the quick and dirty guide to acing your interviews.

Pre-gaming: Get a good night’s sleep and don’t fret about last minute prep. It’s more important to be well rested for your interview than cram last minute facts, which may never actually come to fruition in your conversation. Of course, dress your best, it will boost your confidence and get you in the zone.

Say cheese: Greet the interviewer with a smile and a firm handshake. Smiling will not only help you relax, but is also a great way to connect with the interviewer. Show your enthusiasm!

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Connecting the dots: One of the first and most important questions the interviewer is likely to ask you is the classic “tell me about yourself.”   In addition to providing the interviewer with a summary of your profile, this question gives the interviewer a peek into your decision making process. How did you make the key decisions in your life? Do you make considerate and well thought decisions or are you impulsive? Tell them your story, not a collection of descriptive facts about you.

Bread-crumbs: A great way to get the interviewer to focus on your strengths is to leave little bread-crumbs in your answers which the interviewer can pick up for subsequent questions. Remember, you want to play to your strengths and you can potentially guide the interviewer in the right direction.

80:20 rule: You don’t have to go over everything in your resume. It’s likely that you will spend 80% of your time talking about 20% of the experience / projects on your resume. That is totally fine and probably a good thing since it allows you to focus on your key strengths.  If you’re a career switcher, be especially conscious of highlighting transferable skills from your previous experience which are relevant to your new chosen field and audience.

I like you because..: Keep in mind that firms are conscious of their recruiting/offer yield. An interviewer is likely to ask you why you are interested in that particular position, their firm, and what other options you are considering. Convey your conviction with your well-reasoned interest in the position.

Question time: Towards the end of the interview, your interviewer is likely to invite you to ask any questions that you may have. Don’t be fooled into thinking the interview is over. This is a great way for the interviewer to gauge your interest. Take this opportunity to ask thoughtful questions which show that you have done your research on the role and the company.

Additionally, here are some Dos & Don’ts which can make or break your interview:

·       DO prepare well.  Whether it is case prep for consulting, valuation techniques for banking or stock pitches for investment management, nothing can replace good preparation. ‘Winging it’ rarely produces satisfactory results.

·       DO mock interviews. It is a virtual certainty that you will improve as you go through additional interviews. This means that your first couple of interviews are likely to expose chinks in your armor. Try to ensure that your interview with your dream firm is not your first. Take part in Winterview, the Interview Training Program (ITP), and try and set-up mock interviews with second years.

·       DO take notes. Though you may feel drained after a hectic day of interviews, it can be very helpful to take a few minutes to jot down your thoughts on the interviews and the questions that you were asked. Think about your responses and how you can improve upon them. This can be immensely helpful for future interviews.

·       DON’T badmouth any previous employers. There are good reasons for moving on from a previous job. However, make sure to not talk negatively about a previous employer.

·       DON’T get thrown off by a difficult question. Odds are you will get a question that will stump you. Don’t let that fluster you. It’s okay to take a deep breath and ask for a moment to collect your thoughts before answering. Grace under pressure is one of the qualities interviewers look for.

Good luck and stay sharp!

Pri is a second-year Career Advisor and is training hard for the ultimate global test of athletic endurance - the 2015 Chicago Hot Chocolate Run.