Effective Interviewing Guide
When you go to an interview, you should be prepared to answer questions about everything from your your professional background and experience to your knowledge about the industry you hope to work in and your own personal background. This is a list of the different types of questions you might get during an interview.
Open Ended Questions
Respond to open-ended questions by focusing on a few key ideas in an organized concise way.
Q: Run me through your résumé.
A: Start with college and work forward, outlining your employment history, key accomplishments and transitions. You need to be able to do this in about two minutes, but be prepared to go into much greater depth in response to questioning.
Q: Tell me about yourself.
A: Depending upon when this question appears, you’ll need to vary your approach. If this is the first question, then use the “run me through your résumé” response. If you have already explained your background, focus on strengths. If these are used, bring up some other skills or personality traits that may be useful to the employer. Whenever possible customize your skills/experience to the targeted position.
Q: How would your boss (or colleagues) describe you?
A: This is a good place to play up strengths and personality traits important to the job.
Skill Based Questions
Respond to skill based questions by highlighting a key strength and backing it up with an example or accomplishment to provide solid evidence of your talents.
Q: Given your background in previous career area, how do you know you will be successful in the new area?
A: This is a valid question for career changers; and most MBAs are career changers. Stress your transferable skills and highlight relevant skills with examples.
Q: What are your strengths? What attributes would your ideal job include?
A: Mention those attributes that are important to the position you are interviewing for. Use the (skill area + example) method.
Q: What are your weaknesses? Or, what is the one area you would like to improve on?
A: Pick a weakness that is really a strength for the position you are looking for and show how you’ve overcome the deficiency. Or discuss an area that is not central to the position and discuss the actions you are taking to improve this area. Never volunteer more than one weakness unless asked.
The interviewer is testing your fit with the industry and company as well as assessing your knowledge of relevant facts.
Q: Why do you want to work for us?
A: Approach this from the perspective of what’s in it for them. You are interested because you could make a contribution in____________ and because your skills of ____________are a good fit with the job.
Q: What do you know about our organization? Why are you specifically interested in our organization over our competition?
A: You need to do your homework. Go beyond the surface reasons such as good reputation, industry leader etc.) How do your skills and interests relate to specifics of this company?
Additional questions for specific industries and functions:
Investment Banking Questions
- What do you think it takes to be successful in investment banking?
- What do you think investment bankers do every day?
- Describe a situation in which you used quantitative skills to solve a problem.
- Sales/trading: Sell me this XYZ object. Recommend a stock to me.
- What sources of information do you read on the investment banking industry?
- What do you think of the way the government treats insider traders?
- Has the investment banking industry been represented fairly in the press?
- What do you think of the Morgan Stanley/Dean Witter merger?
- What are your strengths in business analysis?
Management Consulting Questions
- Give me an example of a time you worked in a team. Did you face any obstacles?
- Give me an example of a problem you have faced and how you overcame it.
- What do you think management consultants do every day?
- Give me an example of a situation in which you analyzed and solved a problem. How did you do it?
- How would you describe your way of solving problems?
Marketing (Product Management)
- Give me an example of how you demonstrated initiative. What were the results?
- Rank order the important characteristics for brand management.
- Scenario and create a plan to market Brand X in Philadelphia.
- Tell me about a time when you had to influence various departments/people to help accomplish your goals without having direct authority over them.
- Tell me about some projects you initiated. What prompted you to begin them?
- How do you gather information to solve problems? Give me an example.
- What do you think you do best?
- Describe your greatest accomplishment and your greatest failure.
- What was your most challenging personal encounter with someone? How did you deal with the individual?
- Tell me how you would build a team out of independent individuals?
- How would a friend, boss and a client describe you?
- Tell me about a creative solution that you developed for a difficult problem?
- What was the most challenging group you successfully worked with? What was one of your failures?
Here the interviewer may be looking for information on your attributes, style, character, and values.
Q: What are the two most important decisions of your life?
A: This is asking about your values and approach to problem solving.
Q: Why did you decide to go back and get your MBA?
A: Again, this question is asking about your values and goals. Also to check the rationale between your past experience and present goals. Is there a logical connection?
Q: What were your most important successes? Failures?
A: Successes illustrate strengths. Select examples that highlight skills that would contribute to the position you are discussing. Failures are probed to understand how you handle adversity, so it is important to show how you handled the situation and what you learned. Again, limit failures to one.
Q: Where would you like to be in five years?
A: This is to determine whether you plan to stick with the organization. Your answer may be, “my interest is to grow with the company”.