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InterviewingFrom Interview to OfferWhile a sharp resume and persuasive cover letter will getyou an interview, you’ll need excellent interviewing skills toclose the deal and land your desired position. All too often,job and internship seekers invest large amounts of time towrite their application documents but give short shrift tointerview preparation.An interview can be conversational (that is what you hopefor!) but it is NOT just a conversation. Even the mostconfident and personable people person will benefitdramatically from thoughtful interview preparation. Youhave come this far; be sure you keep up the momentumand build upon your preliminary success.Read over this advice and find moredetail on the Career Center website.Research industry, employer, and role. Follow therelevant news, learn the organization’s website backwards andforwards and scope out your interviewers on LinkedIn andGoogle. Reach out to employees—maybe even Duke alums—in the company.Rehearse your introduction. What will you say to create apositive and compelling first impression when you are askedthe question, “Tell me about yourself”? No matter how itis phrased, expect that you will open the interview with aplatform to talk about your interest in the opportunity and howit fits with your strengths and experiences.Connect your experiences. Practice telling short stories thatgive evidence to your success. Mentally connect these storiesto the qualities they best represent.Prepare your own questions. You will be given theopportunity to ask questions during your interviews. Thisis a valuable part of the interview, not just a polite gesture.Consider questions about the role, company specifics (butnever salary or benefits—not yet), the personal experiencesof people that you meet, or questions that relate to currentevents or news.Send thank-you notes. Send them the very next day to eachperson or group that you meet. Refer to something interestingor unique from the conversation to create an opportunityfor the reader to think of you again. Paper makes a strongerimpression, but email is the way to go if a hiring decision willbe made before snail mail can reach its destination. 37
Behavioral Interviews The vast majority of interviews are behavioral in nature. Frequently, behavioral questions will include some form of, “Tell me about a time when…” and will relate to tasks, scenarios, and qualities that will be significant to the position you are now seeking. Through this method, the interviewer hopes to gauge your potential for success. The premise of behavioral-based interviews is that your past actions are the best predictor of your future performance. The appropriate response is to share a concise, but detailed story about a relevant experience. Behavioral Interview Success • Provide well thought-out examples with successful endings. Even a story about your biggest failure can conclude with what you learned from the experience! • Refer to specific examples rather than broad characterizations. • Be sure that your story has a beginning, middle, and end. See the STAR method for responding on the next page. • Prepare your stories in advance by anticipating the expected strengths needed for the role and matching them with your own accomplishments. • Address and contextualize your own contributions when discussing a group project. • Pull examples from across your range of experiences. Using just one or a few can cre- ate a sense that others have not been valuable. • Speak positively about yourself, colleagues, supervisors, and peers.38 • Use the most recent examples when possible.
The STAR MethodSTAR is formula for creating your best response tobehavioral-based questions. Interviewers expect youto present your thoughts and experience in this manner. A fewDon’t worry, however. You’ll see that the STAR method is importantno different than the basics of any good story composition. tips: • A strong STARQuestion: Tell me about a time when you had to response willprovide difficult feedback to a team member?S last one to two “last semester i took a psychology course minutes. that required a group project to examine • Be brief in your motivation. the professor assigned each set-up. Give Situation student to a 4-person group. My group decided to look at what motivates college just enough Set the scenario for students to participate in community background your example. service activities.” or contextualT information for “as a group, we developed a plan to your story to make distribute the work between us. however, after the first few weeks, it became sense. Task apparent that one of our team members • The result is was not completing her part of the critical. everything Describe the specific project and she missed one of our group challenge or task meetings. the rest of the team decided in your example that relates to the question. that we needed to reengage her.” builds towards thisA component. “i took the initiative to set up a meeting with her where we discussed her interest • Use the structure Action in the project as well as the other of the acronym Talk about the ac- academic responsibilities. after talking for direction if you with her, it was clear that if we changed tions that you took forget what you her contributions to tasks that better fit to accomplish the were saying. if all her skills and interests, she would most task. likely contribute at a higher level.” else fails, skip toR the r, result. “it turned out that the team could redistribute tasks without compromising Result so every member got to work on the pieces of the project that were of Present the results most interest to them. in the end, we that followed be- completed the project and received cause of the chosen positive feedback from our professor.” action. 39 39
Case Interviews Case interviews are a specialized type of interview common in the consulting industry. In a case interview, the interviewer presents a dilemma, and the candidate must analyze and discuss the problem and propose a solution. Employers use case interviews as a way to evaluate a candidate’s qualitative, problem-solving, and analytical skills and often their business acumen. In addition they will evaluate the communication skills, listening skills, enthusiasm and non-verbal cues, e.g., eye contact, of the candidate. The way in which a candidate arrives at a solution to the question, which demonstrates to an employer how the candidate thinks through a dilemma, is as important as the actual solution the candidate provides, if not more. Case Question Types Typical case questions fall into four categories: Calculations/Computational Scenario – Devise a solution given a problem statement, data elements, and possibly a formula Business Operation Scenario – Devise a solution given a problem related to operational effectiveness. Example: How can you increase efficiency of Starbuck’s ordering process by decreasing wait time during peak hours? Business Strategy Scenario – Devise a solution given a problem related to strategy and new markets. Example: How will airlines remain competitive with rising fuel costs and increased regulations? Brainteaser – Two primary types including the estimation case, How many golf courses exist in Wisconsin? and the random fact analysis, Why are manhole covers round? Resources for students preparing for a case interview are the following: • Case In Point: Complete Case Interview Preparation by Marc Casentino • Mock interviews through the Career Center • Practice cases and interactive online cases on employers’ websites 4040