Category Archives: Interviewing

NYU Image Assessment- “What are YOU Wearing”…(for your career interview)

Victoria Duruh has been an internationally recognized top model director for 11 years. She also produced fashion events, booked top clients (e.g. Lancôme Int., Maybelline, Revlon/Cream of Nature, Abercrombie and Fitch, L’uomo Vogue, Teen Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Sports Illustrated) and celebrity appearances, and has done scouting, castings, film festivals, 2014 Oscar’s and other events. Victoria is currently working on Image Management with Wall Street Men advising on style, wardrobe, accessories, image, confidence and more.  Do you want to learn more? Read Victoria’s interviews with top hiring decision maker executives on appropriate appearance – e.g. Wall Street, Finance, Marketing, Public Relations, Fashion/Entertainment, Media/Communication – for specialized tips for  dressing for success.

The Basic Guide for Achieving Success 

Congratulations!! You just landed your dream job interview. Now, here comes the first challenge….figuring out what to wear to the interview.

While you may actually have all the right qualifications of the ideal candidate your dream employer is looking for, and you may confidently know it, neither of these things matter, if potential employers cannot actually see proof of that.

And by proof, I am referring to the professional IMAGE of yourself.

The stakes are high. First impressions are created in the first few seconds of walking in the door, and they rely mostly on nonverbal cues like body language, and yes, clothes. Arrive inappropriately dressed and you risk being judged as less competent or intelligent before you even begin talking.

If you make a bad impression with what you are wearing, you could spend the rest of the interview simply trying to make up for it instead of sharing all the incredible talents that make you the right one for the job. You likely have the foundation. But there are still some details that even the best of us might not be getting right.

The interview is probably one of the few places where you do not receive feedback on your own performance. Although you might not always be confronted with bad wardrobe choices, do not think that it goes unnoticed.

Employers will rarely communicate that your wardrobe, accessories or body language contributed to a less favorable interview impression. They may not even know it themselves, since many of these impressions are subconscious. Employers view candidates as a potential future reflection of the company. It will be noticed if you portray any negative image.

So, I put together some photographs of the fashion back to basic suitable business attire that will help you land the job.

1. Industry Appropriate Basic Attire Choice – The wardrobe from the top to the bottom, suits, jackets, pants shirts, ties, socks and shoes for men and suit, dresses, skirts, shoes and tights for women, needs to account for differences in industry. For example, “what works” for Wall Street, does not necessarily work for Hi Tech or more creative industries….Classic with a Twist!

2. Proper Clothing Fit – The clothes must properly fit, both to conform to industry expectations as well as frame the student in the most favorable light. Inexpensive clothes that fit perfectly will look better than a Bergdorf’s wardrobe. That does not fit pants that are the incorrect length or shirts that are too blousy or tight, will send a subconscious, if not conscious, message to the interviewer.

3.  Colors, Fabrics and Textures – Putting your best foot forward to facilitate the most confident image also involves choosing the colors, fabrics and textures that best flatter each individual based on different heights, weights, skin texture, hair color, bone structure and other factors.

4.   Proper GroomingThis includes the basics in proper haircut, hairstyling, shave, sideburns, eye brows, tattoos, etc.

 

 

5. Appropriate Accessories – A Finishing Touch…Generally keep it Simple, but there are tips on how to ensure that accessories complete clothing and ones own image, including jewelry, watches, ties, tie clips, handbags, tote/brief cases, and earrings, etc. And nose rings for men  (Generally “Just say No”).

6.   Key Body Language Signals – You never get a second chance to make a first impression. How a student walks, sits and carries them throughout the interview sends strong non-verbal messages. The eye contact and handshake are key. The goal is not to create identical interviewees or job candidates, but to avoid students sending negative signals before speaking a word.

 For more information and/or schedule an Image Assessment, please contact Victoria at victoria@imagetherapynyc.com .

 

How to “Wow” Your Interviewer

Claudia Enriquez is a second year student receiving her Masters in Public Administration from NYU Wagner. She currently works as a Graduate Program Assistant at NYU Wasserman. She is a New Yorker at heart, growing up in Long Island, then moving to upstate New York to attend college, and now she’s back downstate and enjoying her time at NYU.

You landed the interview, now it’s time to bring out your A game and really ‘wow’ your interviewer. Follow these simple steps below and prepare to land that dream job/internship!

Research, Research, Research

Did I mention research? Check out the company’s website. Review the company’s mission statement, values, culture, goals, achievements, recent events, and the company’s products/services.  If you know anyone who works there – ask him/her to give you the inside scoop!

Practice Makes Perfect…Or at least Preparation!

Be prepared to the job interview. Practice general and challenging interview questions with your peers.  Practice in front of a mirror – don’t be shy! The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel, which will come off during the interview.  While you should practice, be authentic during the actual interview.

NYU Wasserman has plenty of great career resources.  Swing by during walk-in hours for a mini mock interview, or make an appointment with a career counselor. You can find other helpful resources on CareerNet, under the Career Resources tab. Check it out!

Get Ready and Be on Time

The night before do the following:

  • Have your outfit picked out (rule of thumb: dress one or two levels up)

  • Pack your bag

  • Print out extra copies of your resume

  • Get directions to your destination (Check alternative routes)

  • Relax and have a good night’s sleep

The day of the big interview give yourself enough time to arrive. Arrive between 5-7 minutes early. If you’re too early walk around, grab some water, etc. As soon as you walk through the door, all eyes are on you – that means, be polite to everyone, from the receptionist to the person interviewing you.  Remember to put on your best smile!

How to Answer Questions During the Interview?

During the interview make eye contact and answer questions with confidence.  Use the STAR method:

  • Situation – Describe the situation you were in (e.g., the name of the internship or course you were taking)

  • Task – Identify the specific project you were working on and briefly discuss what it entailed

  • Action – This is the most important element! Specifically identify what YOUR action was related to the question that was asked

  • Result – Close the question by stating an outcome to your situation

If you ever find yourself stuck on a question, that’s okay! Say to the interviewer ‘that’s a good question, let me think about it.’ Pause, breathe, think, and then give your answer.

Ask Meaningful Questions

At the close of the interview, the interviewer will always ask if you have any questions for them.  Have about 5-10 questions prepared, but of course, don’t ask questions already answered during the interview.

Below are good examples of what to ask the interviewer.

  1. What qualities do you think are most important for someone to excel in this position?

  2. What do you personally like most about working for this company?

  3. What would be one of the greatest challenges a person in this position would face?

  4. Can you tell me more about the team I’ll be working with?

  5. What are the next steps in the interview process?

Follow Up

Send a thank you email or a letter to your interviewer(s) 24-48 hours after the interview. If you interviewed with more than one person, send tailored individual thank you notes. Reiterate your strengths and your interest in the company. This is also an opportunity to add anything you did not discuss during the interview. As always, thank them for their time and the opportunity.

Good luck!

Hatstand Green Beret Program

Hatstand is a global financial technology consultancy with a specialist focus on electronic trading systems, connectivity, data management, risk, compliance and regulation. With offices in major trading centers in Europe, the Americas and Asia, we have launched the careers of hundreds of technology professionals, many of whom now hold senior level positions in leading financial institutions. 

Our Green Beret program focuses on talent development for technology professionals within financial services.  We select individuals with the right attitude, energy and enthusiasm, plus relevant technical experience, and combine this with bespoke training and mentoring.  Our junior consultants typically spend two years with one of our clients.

Gaurav is a Java Developer who recently completed his first year with the Hatstand Green Beret (HGB) program.  He is working with the Consolidated Alerts and Monitoring (CAM) team with one of our global investment banking clients.  Gaurav has shared a brief overview of his role, its challenges and his successes:

CAM is a global system requiring geographical distribution of resources.  It was conceived as part of Cash Equities in Investment Banking but its systems are responsible for trade monitoring activities for the entire investment banking group.  CAM systems receive client order flows from multiple systems and performs real time trade risk checks, monitoring and surveillance.  The main responsibilities in this role are application enhancement and development, testing and QA analysis.  There is no dedicated QA/testing team so it becomes the developer’s responsibility to ensure high quality of the software solution.  Developers also engage the business in requirements and testing and are sometimes required to provide L3 support. 

The team is distributed across US, Europe and APAC regions.  It is a growing team with many new people and senior developers with specific expertise in the design and implementation of high performance framework.  The team is faced with the complex and aging portfolio of software solutions.  As the number of applications has grown it has eroded the performance and stability of the system, so there is a need to review and refactor the existing system to improve performance.  Most of the development work is around application enhancements.  After every change in the application thorough regression testing needs to be performed, which is a time consuming and manual process.  I have built tools to automate certain parts of this process, which has improved overall productivity and turnaround time for regression testing.  

Before joining Hatstand I worked for two years in the software industry as a Java developer.  Through this role in the HGB program I have gained experience developing low latency high throughput financial applications, and knowledge of electronic trading in cash equity markets.  My technical skillset includes Java, databases, shell scripting and FIX protocol.  In the future I would like to continue to gain technical expertise in developing high throughput and low latency applications in the financial sector.

Want to learn more? Meet with Hatstand for a one-on-one informational interview through our Recruiter-in-Residence program on Tuesday 10/28 by RSVPing through NYU CareerNet > Events > Seminars today!

Preparing for OCR Interviews EMPLOYER INSIGHTS Video Series

On-Campus Recruitment (OCR) is one of the many ways for NYU juniors, seniors, and graduate students to discover job and internship opportunities. Through OCR, employers come to the  Wasserman Center to interview students. In addition to participating in OCR, we recommend that you also attend our seminars, apply for positions via NYU CareerNet, attend career fairs, and meet with a career coach to help identify opportunities that are right for you.

This video will give you some insight on how to prepare for OCR interviews!

Want to learn more about On Campus Recruitment? Attend an upcoming OCR Orientation.

To see the full list, search OCR under the “Events” tab on NYU CareerNet

Starting your Job Search? Better Get Ready For Your Close-Up!

By  Nicole Tucker, Tech Recruiter at iCIMS

As a recruiter, I’m constantly reviewing resumes, phone screening candidates, and setting up interviews to find the best talent for iCIMS. With so many applicants for each position, it’s challenging to identify the soft skills needed for each unique job to ensure that the candidate is a great match for the position. On the other hand, when I’m on campus for recruitment events, students ask me “what can I do to land the job that’s right for me?” The good news is, thanks to the latest recruitment technology, there’s a tool that helps recruiters find top talent quickly and easily, and gives candidates the opportunity to stand out during their job search. It’s all in the power of video.

iCIMS and other employers have implemented video capabilities as part of their interview process. This means, candidates are given an opportunity to record a short video explaining why they are the best person for the job. Think about it, by submitting a video in addition to your resume, the recruiter will be able to see you, hear your communication style, and assess your professionalism, which can make you stand out from the crowd. With all this information regarding your candidacy, you have a much better chance of getting noticed and being invited to interview for your dream job. According to Recruiting.com, “the information retained from one minute of online video is equal to about 1.8 million written words.” In an age where the average job receives 250 resumes, having that kind of edge is crucial.

Why Video is the Answer 

It gets you in front of the recruiter — no matter how far away you are from the job. The end goal is an interview, but the logistics of scheduling 30 minute interviews for every candidate can limit your chances of making it onto the schedule. Video is your chance to use one or two minutes to persuade your future boss why you are the right person for the position.

You can “prove” your ability by simulating a real world experience. Say you want to land that big sales job, but you’ve only worked at one other company. In two minutes, you can prove what the resume doesn’t show by giving a sales pitch. Recruiters can quickly see your ability and potential.

How to Make the Perfect Video 

Dress the part – The video is your first impression to your potential employer, so treat it like an interview by wearing your professional attire.

Practice makes perfect – Your video should showcase your presentation skills, so don’t rush through the experience. Record a few versions until you feel your message is clear and you appear confident and comfortable in your video.

Keep it short and simple – Don’t experiment with special effect and graphics, unless you’re an expert. Keep the video under two minutes to keep the recruiters attention throughout its entirety.

We all get a little anxious when it comes to recording ourselves on video. It’s hard enough to pick the right LinkedIn photo — let alone record a composed, well-spoken video as part of the application process. However, the payoff can be huge — video is a great opportunity to stand out and it could give you the edge you need to land your dream job. My advice? Start preparing for your close-up now!

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO MEET WITH iCIMS, STOP BY THEIR BOOTH AT THE ENGINEERING & TECHNOLOGY CAREER FAIR. RSVP THROUGH NYU CAREERNET BY CLICKING HERE!

Asking for Advice, Not a Job: How to Conduct Informational Interviews

Megan Yasenchak is a current graduate student at NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies, pursuing a Masters in Global Affairs.  She attended the NYU Wasserman Center@SCPS career event, entitled, “Asking for Advice, Not a Job: How to Conduct Informational Interviews” which was presented by Rachel Frint, Associate Director, NYU Wasserman Center at SCPS.  In competitive job markets, informational interviews are a key resource to assist job seekers by expanding and cultivating their career networks.

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What is Informational Interviewing?

Informational interviewing is a form of networking with experts from your field or a related industry. It is a personal meeting, one-on-one, where you are leading the conversation with that person by asking them for advice, insight and guidance in developing your career path. In these meetings, you ask questions about their own career experiences and their organizations as well. This process allows you to make a positive impression on an expert outside of the confines of a traditional job interview.

Why is Informational Interviewing important?

Informational interviewing is asking for resources, not asking for a job. However, informational interviewing may connect you to job opportunities. Frequently, employers do not post all of their vacancies through public announcements. These un-posted vacancies are referred to as the “hidden job market,” which accounts for nearly 70% of job opportunities.

Through informational interviewing, a job seeker leaves an impression with that industry expert. You are investing your time in building a relationship with the expert that can lead to, potentially, other future industry contacts. This networking could result in job opportunities.

How To Identify Potential Contacts

Everyone is a potential contact. There are “strong” connections, such as family and friends and “weak” connections, like classmates, former co-workers or new acquaintances at events. Use your personal network, professional associations, social media and the Wasserman Center to expand your connections!

How To Initiate an Informational Interview

First, identify who you are (i.e. your brand), what do you want to communicate, what are your goals and how you can maintain this relationship.

When requesting an informational interview, be clear and direct in your request. Introduce yourself and explain any connection, why you would like to meet and how you would like to connect (e.g. telephone, in person, video chat).

How to Conduct the Informational Interview

Your informational interview is to gain insight from an industry expert. Be prepared for the meeting by thinking of topics of conversation, conducting research on that person and/or organization and think of questions. Informational interviewing is your chance to gain critical insight into your career field from experts!

After the Informational Interview

Your goal is to maintain this relationship and build connections, especially after the meeting. Remember to send a quick thank you note (within 24 hours). Maintain the relationship by sending your contact an update on your professional life (every 1-3 months).

 Maintaining so many current and future contacts may seem daunting; so divide your connections into a manageable list. Meet with new one person every week. Try to schedule one informational interview every month. Reconnect with one former contact every week.

To develop your own career strategies for building a network, schedule an appointment with a NYU Wasserman Center Career Coach through NYU CareerNet

Startup Thoughts and Considerations by 9th Dot

9th Dot is a consumer insight platform that gives individuals a “blank canvas” through which they can share their innovative ideas for improvements with businesses, and  rewards consumers for successfully doing so.  From the businesses’ perspective, they receive insightful information in the form of answers to questions they often don’t even know to ask. Last week, they offered up some advice for the interviewing process. Today, they share what to consider when starting your own business.

So you’re ready to take the plunge?  You’ve got a great idea for a product or service that solves a problem with a huge market size, you’re well underway with developing the technology and have written more code than you ever thought possible, you’re already crafting your go to market strategy and you’ve thought through a business model that will scale seamlessly as your startup grows like a weed.  Think again, and again after that.

Starting your own business is one of the most gratifying things a person can do. Take it from us, we thought careers in banking were exactly what we wanted until we had a taste of what entrepreneurship had to offer.  From seeing your app published in the app store to hearing your first potential customer express interest in your product, starting a business will give you countless ups, but also plenty of downs.

The advice we never received, well, maybe we never sought out, is what exactly to expect before starting a company.  Hindsight, 20/20 as it may be, will never provide all the answers, but it’s certainly given us some perspective that we’d like to share with other budding entrepreneurs.

With that in mind, we asked ourselves, what would have been most helpful for us before we started out?

First, for any milestone you set or any hurdle you want to cross in which you think things will become easier, guess again.  For all the progress we’ve made, from writing the business plan, developing the technology, getting covered in TechCrunch, receiving a formal offer to join an accelerator program, and delivering our first demo to a customer, we’ve continued to learn one thing – it doesn’t get easier.  No matter what your strategy for building your business, whether it be widespread user adoption, monetization from corporate clients, or a combination of both, be prepared for a long slog ahead with progress likely to come at a rate slower than you expect.

The reality is that it takes time to build a business.  Viral marketing, hair on fire problem solving and growth hacking are all great buzz phrases, but none will be your cure all panacea as you look to build awareness of your startup and the problems it solves.  Be creative in your go to market strategy.  Ask friends and family what they think – they’ll likely give you feedback that will lead you to think and rethink ways in which you position your product in the marketplace.

Talk to your co-founders and then talk to them again.  Communication and candor is paramount.  As most investors will tell you, the number one reason startups fail is due to differences in opinions that co-founders are unable to reconcile.  Founders agreements and incorporation papers are a great start, but nothing takes the place of addressing key questions early on:

– Do all of the co-founders share similar risk appetites?  The idea of launching a startup is appealing to everyone, but tolerable by few.  Make sure from the get go that everyone is prepared to give your startup the time and attention necessary to succeed before doing anything else

-Do all of the co-founders have the financial cushion necessary to give it a shot? No matter how much progress you make, and how quickly you make it, you’re a long way from being comfortable.  Assuming you all have the patience to remain uncomfortable for a while, make sure everyone is prepared to forego a meaningful income for a while.

– Be prepared to change and change often.  Pivoting is another one of those buzzwords in the startup industry, but it’s much simpler than that.  While plenty of companies do truly pivot, in many cases more than once, we learned to simply not commit to anything other than having a clear vision to experiment and experiment often.  We thought we had it figured out – our idea solves a major problem, a problem we vetted across several major VCs by sharing our business plan before embarking on our journey.  We thought, “let’s get a little bit of media coverage and run some campaigns over Facebook and Twitter and we’ll be off to the races” – were we ever mistaken.  Dampen your expectations and then dampen them again.  Building a business and a brand takes time, endless amounts of energy, and above all a passion to see your idea grow into a business. Regardless of how good you think your go to market strategy is, think of as many ideas for building awareness for your product or service as you can, you’ll test them all and then think of some more.

Above all, don’t launch your startup because it’s cool to say you launched a startup or because you want to make a lot of money – neither of these reasons are likely to lead to success.  Start a business because you see a solution to a problem that will only seem obvious after you’ve exhaustively told your story to customers and investors, and likely the rest of the World.  We started 9th Dot, a crowdsourcing consumer insight platform, because we saw a tremendous opportunity to create a “win-win” situation for both consumers and businesses. Creating a platform that enables consumers to deliver insightful solutions to businesses and rewards them for doing so made a lot of sense to us, but it was the realization that we couldn’t live with ourselves if we did not that made us decide to slog it out.  As we were told by one VC investor early on, “Remember, entrepreneurs are mostly irrational, driven by a passion for creating something where there was nothing and realizing a vision they couldn’t ignore. It’s like jumping off a cliff and having to build a plane before you hit the ground!”

Innovative Interviewing Tips from 9th Dot

9th Dot is a consumer insight platform that gives individuals a “blank canvas” through which they can share their innovative ideas for improvements with businesses, and  rewards consumers for successfully doing so.  From the businesses’ perspective, they receive insightful information in the form of answers to questions they often don’t even know to ask. Here, they offer up some advice for the interviewing process.
Demonstrate an Approach to Problem-Solving

With such a competitive dynamic in today’s job market, individuals often try to do anything they can to gain an edge and differentiate themselves from other candidates. Interviewers want to be convinced you will be able to solve tough problems and help the corporation achieve its objectives.  Demonstrating your ability to think critically and provide innovative solutions to problems is a skill that can help you both secure the job during the interview, as well as climb the corporate ladder after you’ve landed the job.

It’s widely known that one of the best ways to answer interview questions is to make reference to situational experiences in which you successfully solved a problem.  Success stories tend to be tales of the defining moments in one’s career when an individual overcame significant challenges to succeed. These stories create a memorable impression and give the interviewer anecdotes about you that identify your ability to think creatively, solve complex problems and provide a solution.

While many experts suggest relating interview questions to similar situations from earlier in one’s career to demonstrate specific experience in dealing with similar situations, this can prove challenging for students preparing to enter the job market for the first time.  As we all know, challenges also tend to present opportunities.  When preparing for an interview, think of where you use or have used the company’s products or services.  Think about the context in which you used a product or service and ask yourself “what could have made that experience even better?”  Chances are that you’ve had several occasions like this where the proverbial “light bulb” went off in your head as to what would have made your experience better.  With the rise of crowdsourcing, businesses have quickly realized the value that can be derived from the consumers of their products and services – so much so that many large corporations have built full scale social media, consumer insight and guest experience teams to learn from and incorporate their customers’ innovative ideas for improving their products or services.

For instance, while preparing for a job at the corporate office of McDonald’s or Starbucks one may consider addressing an interview question centered around problem solving or critical thinking by drawing on an experience in which you observed an opportunity to improve something and exactly what your solution would entail.  Starbucks, through its MyStarbucksIdea platform, solicits and reviews ideas from its customers and has implemented just over 300 ideas over the last five years.  Things like WiFi, splash sticks and cake pops all originated through their crowdsourcing platform.  McDonald’s recently began testing third drive-thru windows after its social media team picked up a tweet from one customer who decided to share his idea over Twitter by saying, “I hate waiting in line for 20 minutes during the lunch rush at McDonald’s when all I want is a simple McFlurry.  Why doesn’t McDonald’s have a third drive-thru window for express orders?”  Innovative ideas like these gain the attention from senior leadership throughout an organization.

Companies like 9th Dot, a crowdsourcing consumer insight platform, are gaining traction by serving as the connection point between consumers and businesses.  By providing consumers with a “blank canvas” through which they can share their innovative ideas, and potentially earn rewards, 9th Dot enables consumers to showcase their bright ideas to businesses.  Having the right portal through which you can share your idea effectively gives you the podium in front of a large lecture hall filled with businesses wanting to learn what they can do better.

Consider that the next time an interviewer asks you to describe the last time you’ve solved a problem and how you went about doing so!

 

Management Consulting Case Interviews

Cracking The Case

Tips For Case Interviews From the Other Side of the Table

Here at Argopoint, like other consulting firms, we often use case study interviews to evaluate potential applicants. These interviews are commonly a source of anxiety for undergraduates and other first-time interviewees, but they don’t have to be. Our founder, Jason Winmill, has 20 years of experience in the management and strategy consulting field, and has run thousands of case interviews with top candidates from schools including Harvard Business School, Wharton, and Yale. Here are some tips for prospective applicants gathered from years of experience on both sides of the process:

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.”

— Peter F. Drucker, Leading 20th Century Management Thinker

Pay attention to the interviewer

You might be talking to a senior or junior member of the company. They might be warm and talkative or reserved and direct. Some interviewers enjoy the process, while others don’t…and sometimes your interviewer might just be having a bad day.

Suggestion: Get a read on your interviewer. Observe the behavior and attitude of the interviewer and act appropriately. Whether they want to chat for a bit or get right down to business, follow their lead. In addition, the information that an interviewer gives you is meant to help you, so pay attention and use their cues to your own benefit.

It’s about more than just the math

Too many first-time interviewees spend time worrying about doing the math correctly to the exclusion of other important factors. Keep in mind that you’re being evaluated on a comprehensive basis, including your critical thinking skills, your analytical capabilities, and your ability to solve problems.  While quantitative prowess is important to being a consultant, this capability doesn’t go very far if you do not know how to apply it in a business setting.

Suggestion: Be sure to demonstrate to your interviewer that you can not only find solutions to mathematical problems, but that you can also use your findings to quickly form opinions and guide decisions. In addition, make sure you spend time demonstrating more than just your quantitative capabilities.

Demonstrate enthusiasm and keen interest in the conversation

In a case interview you are presented with business problems, similar to those actual consultants are faced with.  This is an opportunity to demonstrate to the interviewer that you can both can handle consulting work, and that you find it interesting. A good consultant will find the work enjoyable and intellectually stimulating.

Suggestions: Demonstrate enthusiasm and energy in your conversation with the interviewer. This will demonstrate your passion for the industry.

Focus on the bigger business problems present

You are not expected to be an expert on every industry. Don’t be concerned if you do not know the specifics of the industry that you are questioned about. What is important is your understanding of business and your ability to solve business issues.

Suggestion: Focus on the bigger problems that can be generalized across industries to all businesses. Examples include declining profitability, merger integration, increasing market share, etc.

Structure the problem to help to brainstorm your own solution, but don’t force fit any frameworks

Most firms and professionals recommend applying a pre-existing framework to the scenario at hand. This will structure the problem making it clearer, to both you and the interviewer, how you are thinking about the problem. However, be weary of a strict compliance to these frameworks. Applying one to a situation that it doesn’t fit with is a large mistake you should try and avoid. This mistake implies a misunderstanding of the fundamental problems and thus a flawed way of addressing them and coming to a solution.

Suggestions: Study or review various business frameworks such as Porter’s 5 Forces and a traditional microeconomic cost structure. In addition, read publications such as The Economist and The Wall Street Journal to become familiar with actual business problems and solutions, as well as descriptions of various industries.

Don’t over complicate things

You need not focus on all the information presented to you. While it’s not a bad thing to see potential hours’ worth of issues, as it shows you can think deeply about a problem, focusing on all of them will waste your time without getting you any closer to an answer.

Suggestion: Prioritize and focus on key information, not all the information. As soon as you have a sense of the most important factors in a case, shift your attention to those aspects. Ask questions about the core issues that you have identified.     

Ask (smart) questions

A consideration of the interviewer will be identifying how you act when faced with an ambiguous situation. Consequentially asking too many questions will portray that you don’t respond well. On the contrary, interviewers expect you to ask some questions, but they should be relevant and important to the issue at hand and your proposed solution.

Suggestion: Demonstrate leadership ability and initiative by focusing on questions that help you in connecting the information, but not that aid you in creating a complete picture. This will show that you can solve problems in a less structured environment and possess creativity. 

Communicate your thought process clearly

One of the most important parts of the interview is assessing your problem solving, analytical and critical thinking skills. To demonstrate that you possess these qualities, make sure to communicate your thought process clearly to the interviewer when coming to a solution.

Suggestion: Be thorough in walking the interviewer through your complete thought process. Explain why you come to each assumption that you do and why the questions you are asking him or her are relevant to the scenario presented.    

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box

If there were simple solutions to the problems that consultants address, then there would be no consulting industry, as businesses would be able to solve their own business problems. When businesses approach consulting firms they are looking for innovative and creative solutions.

Suggestion: In developing creative solutions, be sure to always stick to common sense and business acumen.  

Demonstrate a dedicated interest in the firm you are interviewing at

Remember that the interview is a good place for you to learn more about the firm, as well as where the firm learns more about you. Use the opportunity wisely and make keep the interview interactive so you can learn more about your interviewer and gain insight into their thought processes and daily work.

Suggestion: Be yourself and display your interest in the firm by making the interview as interactive as possible.

Above all, relax and enjoy the experience. Your interviewers are looking for the skills and traits that will genuinely lead to your success in the position—they want you to succeed. The best applicants are excited by the challenges available in the consulting field, so try to think of your case interview as an enjoyable new challenge and an opportunity to learn more about the company you’re interviewing with. Good luck!

Jason Winmill is the managing partner at Argopoint LLC and has over 20 years of management and strategy consulting experience.  Jason has advised senior executives (including general counsels) across a range of industries including healthcare, pharmaceuticals, retail, consumer products, financial services/insurance and utilities.

Jason served as the “outside architect”—assisting in the design of an outside counsel rationalization and partnering program for one of the country’s top ten largest legal divisions.   His work for this client and other in-house legal groups has resulted in a portfolio of more qualified outside counsel (as measured by a reasoned assessment of objective markers) and significantly lower costs for legal services. He worked to improve efforts involving litigation, intellectual property (patents and trademarks, among others), human resources, real estate, mergers and acquisitions, government investigations and regulatory law.  Jason’s work has been featured in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Corporate Counsel Magazine, the ACC Docket, The American Lawyer, Inside Litigation, Purchasing Magazine and Inside Supply Management.

Jason has held positions at Bain & Co—a leading strategy consulting firm and at Goodmeasure Consulting, a leading organizational change consulting firm headed by Harvard Business School faculty, a former editor of the Harvard Business Review and leader of the Harvard Business School’s general management faculty.

Jason is an honors graduate of Harvard College.  He received an MBA from the Harvard Business School, where he was elected to lead the school’s Forum on Business Ethics.

 

Wasserman Center Meet Ups

Informational interviews can be a great way to develop your career path: allowing you a chance to gain insight into a job field and to make some new connections. However, if you don’t know what to expect or how to prepare, it can be a stressful situation. Here are some tips to make sure you get the most out of your informational interview.

Do:

  1. Research the company and the role. You want to keep informational interviews pretty short (about 30 minutes), so make sure that you’re using your time during the interview to learn some insider details about the job or the company. A good resource can be the Vault Career Insider, which can be accessed through your home page on CareerNet.
  2. Bring a resume. Even though you aren’t asking for a job (more on that later!), you want to let the interviewer get a good picture of your experience so they can give you information and advice that’s most relevant to you. This also can help them remember details about you if you maintain a relationship with the interviewer.
  3. Prepare questions that really interest you. Reflect on what matters to you in a job – hours, mobility, culture, etc. Some common questions are: What do you see as the potential for growth in this field? What can I do now to help me find employment in this field? What do you like about your career and what don’t you like about it?

Don’t:

  1. Ask for a job, internship, or interview. The interviewer granted you the informational interview as a chance for learning and networking, and if you turn it into a job hunt it will likely turn them off and hurt your reputation. After the interviewer gets to know you, it’s possible that they will keep you in mind for future hiring needs. But now is not the time.
  2. Show up without a goal in mind. If you don’t have a clear purpose for the interview, your questions and interactions might seem disjointed. Before the interview, think about what you really want to achieve: build professional contacts, learn how to break into a field, decide what role might be best for you, etc.
  3. Come too early. An informational interview usually benefits you more than it benefits the interviewer, so you don’t want to assume too much of their time. Stick to the schedule as much as possible.

Not sure that your informational interviewing skills are up to par? Schedule an appointment with a career counselor or come to a Wasserman Meet Up for a chance to chat with Wasserman staff and employers in a relaxed setting.

Meet Ups are coming up on Friday February 28, Tuesday March 11, and Thursday March 27. Click the links for more details and to RSVP.