Posts Tagged 'interviews'

Interview Prep

I know that preparing for interviews can seem like a waste of time sometimes.  In the basic sense, it is just having a conversation, so why not just go in with the attitude of: “I’m just gonna go in there, be myself, answer their questions with great stories, and knock the interviewer’s socks off.”  And the answer is, because that probably isn’t how it will go at all if you don’t do any prep work, like having answers for common questions prepared.

When I was up in Chicago for the MBA Veteran’s conference, I participated in a conversation with some fellow combat arms vets that probably could have been titled:  The greatest hits of terrible interview question answers.   The questions that were asked in the interviews were generally along the lines of:

“Tell me about a time you were in a seemingly impossible situation, how did you find an innovative solution?”

“Tell me about a time when you were under a lot of stress and had to make a difficult decision?”

“Describe a time when you worked as part of a team to meet a seemingly impossible goal?”

“Describe a time when you used your leadership skills in order to resolve a conflict?”

As a former infantryman who went on multiple overseas deployments, I have a fair amount of experience working in adverse situations, making difficult decisions, working as a part of a team, and using leadership skills.  But, as the mental Rolodex clicks through my life’s story, the first experience that comes to mind for any of those questions is not one that I am going to use in a job interview.  The reason I say that isn’t because I lack pride in my time as a Marine, or am ashamed of what I did overseas or anything like that.  The reason is that the interviewer is not going to be able to understand how to translate those answers into potential value for the company.   During a job/internship interview, the potential employee has to show that it would add value to the company to bring them on board.   If your answer takes the interviewer to a situation and place that they will never understand, full of acronyms and jargon that sounds like a foreign language, they are not going to be able to grasp the value that you can add to their company through your past experiences.  Instead of stories appropriate for the VFW hall, focus on positive stories, that showcase skills like the ability to work as part of a team, be a leader, use time management efficiently, make timely decisions, ect…

So, in my humble opinion, if you are in a situation where you are going to be going to interviews, taking the time to think through some answers to typical behavioral interviewing questions.  That is what I have done, and now I have alternative experiences to draw on, and don’t need to rely on the first experience that comes to mind when someone asks me about a time when everything was going wrong, and success seemed impossible.

I know this post seems rather veteran-centric, but I think it applies to everyone.  It is a good idea to think before you speak in an interview, and make sure that your story conveys a sense of added value to the company that they will be able to understand.  That generally isn’t something that is going to happen without some prep work ahead of time.


Keeping Pace

There was a saying that we used in the Marine Corps: “It is easier to keep up than catch up.”

This phrase mostly applied to things like running or forced marches in that context, but it seems to me that is is quite applicable to an MBA program as well.   Time management is a crucial skill that is needed in order to thrive in this sort of environment.  In the Marines they begin training in stress inoculation and time management almost immediately.  It is not uncommon in boot camp for something simple, like making a rack (bed), to be given an impossible, or nearly impossible time restriction, and it progresses from there to more complex issues with seemingly impossible time constraints.

Important life decisions.

Time management and the ability to work under duress are two of the many valuable skills (along with leadership), that the Marines helped instill in me.   So, back to the MBA program, during the program, there are a lot of priorities that need to be balanced.  Some of the main ones are:

  • School:  Not just going to all of my classes, but doing homework assignments, studying, and working on projects.
  • Future Careers:  Especially for people like myself looking to switch careers, I need to actively work on building my professional network, attend company info sessions and events, job fairs, apply for jobs, hopefully interview for jobs, work on my resume, and meet with my career counselor.

    First Career Fair as a graduate student today!

  • Student organizations:  There are a myriad of student organizations at Fisher, and they all offer valuable opportunities to students.  There is certainly not time to join all of them, but I have joined several, but each additional one requires an additional time commitment.
  • Personal:  This is possibly the easiest to neglect, but humans need sleep, and to eat, and every once and a while to relax.  Things like going to the gym take time, but it is something that should not be neglected.  Also, having a social life within the program is important.  A big part of business school seems to be networking, so doing things like going to happy hours, and football games are important to building strong relationships with classmates.

All of these areas need to be kept in balance, and maintained, sometimes one is going to be more in focus than the rest, but that doesn’t mean the rest can be neglected.  If I neglect an area, then I am going to fall behind in it, which means that in the future, I will need to expend the same amount of energy needed for it now, plus the energy needed for it in the future, in order to catch up.  That is in addition to meeting all of the other requirements from the other sections of my life.  So, a short term sacrifice now, causes long term harm if I decide to slack in one or more areas.  So, even though it might seem overwhelming sometimes, keeping up with it all is easier than trying to catch up with it all in the future.  I should thank my Drill Instructor for the life lesson.

 

Four simultaneous Script Ohio’s is an amazing thing.


Try This at Your Next Interview!

Fall quarter hosts a huge recruitment rush (don’t worry though – there are opportunities in the winter and spring too!), so it’s good to be a well polished interviewee.  I’ve decided to dedicate this blog post to sharing what I’ve found to be helpful while interviewing, and you’ll get a few tips from Jenna Koch, another MAcc student that went through interviews this fall!

  • Resume – First of all, make sure it is current and has NO typos.  Your resume should highlight your skills and interests and detail how those skills are related to the job you are applying for.  For this reason, I recommend keeping one or two resumes on your computer at all times.  This will allow you to submit a more “finance heavy” resume to the bank you interview with and a more “accounting heavy” resume to the Big Four.  The Office of Career Management can really help you polish your resume too – just check out their Resume Development Strategies!
  • Attire – Dress to impress, but make sure you’re comfortable.  I’ll be honest…I don’t know how to tie a necktie, even though this is an essential piece of the male business professional wardrobe.  Instead, I’ve opted for bow ties!  I’m much more comfortable in a bow tie, and its still professional attire.  Make sure your suit fits well, your shirts are not wrinkled, and your shoes are scuff free.  If you feel good walking into the interview, I promise the entire experience will be much more positive.
  • Be honest – This applies before, during, and after the interview.  Before you apply for a job, make sure you’re actually interested in it.  It’s good to get practice interviewing, but interviewing just to interview can be a huge time drain and you’ll be busy enough as it is.  If you know you are not at all interested in the job/company/industry, be honest with yourself and reconsider applying.  During the interview, engage in an honest dialogue.  If you take a position based on fabrications, you may find that you’re not as good of a fit as you thought you might be.  After the interview, be totally honest when evaluating the company.  Don’t feel pressured to go to round 2 if you know it wasn’t a good fit!
  • Do your research – Do you want to work for that company because you like what they do, or because they are a well-known name?  Make sure you do some background research so you can talk about why you want to work there.  This will impress the recruiters, but will also reinforce your decision.
  • When the time comes, make your decision and stick with it – If you’re lucky enough to have more than one offer on your plate, you’re going to have to just make a decision.  This is a great problem to have, and you won’t be able to make a wrong decision.  Once you’ve evaluated all the pros and cons of each firm, talked to your friends and family, and maybe even visited the Office of Career Management (excellent Career Conversation coaches can talk through your options with you!), you’re going to have to make a decision.  Make the decision and go with it 100%.  It’s not a life-or-death decision.  Sure, it’s important, but make the decision with the best information you have available and don’t look back.  The last thing you want to do is begin to doubt your decision.
As for the interview itself…here’s what Jenna has to say!
  • Ask the same question to multiple people.  You can usually tell if people are telling you how they truly feel or whether their answer was scripted by doing this.  You also want to make sure that the tone of their answer is consistent across the firm.
  • Take the time to talk to multiple people at career fairs, recruiting events, and at the actual interview.  People always tell you that this is good for networking, but it is also a great way to get a feel of the firm culture and how you would fit within that culture.
  • Remember that you are interviewing the companies as much as they are interviewing you.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Don’t let peers around you influence your decision.  Different things are important to different people, and different personalities fit better at different places.  Therefore, what is best for them may not be the best for you.  Find the fit that is best for YOU!
  • If you receive multiple offers and are having a hard time deciding between them, go with your gut.
So – any other current students have any advice?  Alum – how about you?  Share your tips via comments!

My quick overview of the Fisher Career Fair!

Fisher Fall Career Fair 2011

Fisher Fall Career Fair 2011

You know Fisher is a great school.  You know its programs (both undergraduate and graduate) rank among the very best in the world.  You know the faculty, staff, and other students you’ll interact with are incredible.  But do you know about the Fisher Fall Career Fair?

The Career Fair is one of Fisher’s greatest assets.  Over 130 employers fill the Ohio Union, seeking Fisher’s best and brightest students for internships and full-time careers.  And with the quality of Fisher students, they’ve got a tough time ahead sorting through all of those qualified students’ resumes.

Things kick off at 10.30 and go until 4.30.  Not only do you get the chance to talk to recruiters on the day of the Career Fair, but most of the employers will set up interviews on the spot as early as the next day.  Talking to recruiters at the Fair is also a great way to gauge how much you like the company’s vibes without actually having to interview.  It’s basically a free mini-interview!

Fisher also provides special transportation for us students, seeing as how the Union isn’t the closest building to Gerlach (or Schoenbaum, for undergraduates).  There is a dedicated CABS (Campus Area Bus Service) line that runs from Fisher to the Union every 15 minutes.  This is great, since you don’t have to worry about getting sweaty rushing to the Union and then shaking the recruiter from your dream company’s hand!!  A coat check is also provided, as it does get warm inside.

Finally, there are numerous ways Fisher helps us prepare to be at our best for the Career Fair.  There is a student guidebook, a slideshow presentation on how to prepare, and an excellent Career Management team that you can schedule appointments with.  The Career Management team is a wonderful resource to use, especially if you want an extra set of eyes on your resume or would like to practice with some mock interviews.  You can check out the student guidebook and a little more information on this year’s fair here.

 

Fisher Fall Career Fair 2011

PWC recruiters speaking with students

I spoke with a student that attended the Career Fair to get their perspective as well!

As always, I was very impressed with the Fisher College of Business’ ability to collect so many different companies (over 135), all interested in hiring students just like me. More so than the fair itself, I was impressed with the preparation that’s put into this event. I really value the ability to print off (or keep digital, as many students did this fall) a list of companies, including a cross reference of the positions they have available. This allows my time at the actual event to be used more efficiently, as I only speak to firms hiring my specific major. -Kendall Mahon

In summary, the Career Fair is one of the greatest services Fisher provides.  It is an incredible opportunity given to us as students to develop both personally and professionally.  The slew of resources available to help us prepare for the Career Fair is even more impressive, and we are very lucky to have them at our disposal.


A rolling stone… well, you know the rest.

This past week has been a haze of interviews, midterms, projects, group meetings, phone calls and of course, the everyday tasks – like eating, sleeping (hopefully!), cleaning, etc.

Although the Class of 2011 technically has until graduation (mid-June) to find a full-time career… it seems like you’re behind if you’re not madly rushing to second-round interviews at a hectic pace.

For me, it’s been a busy few weeks – it really forces you to decide whether a company is a good fit for you, when you need to either skip class, miss hanging out with friends, or otherwise disrupt your life to attend second-round interviews. I had the good fortune of interviewing with Belden, in Richmond, IN this past Monday. The plant tour made me nostalgic for Owens Corning, my previous employer. Once you’ve worked in manufacturing, you either realize you love it (like me), or you get the heck out. I also was invited up to the Paint & Coatings Division of Sherwin-Williams in Cleveland, OH. Having worked as a painter and a maintenance tech for a number of years, I knew enough about their products to have a very engaging conversation with the CEO of this company at the Fisher Scholar’s luncheon a few weeks ago. I am very grateful that he thought highly enough of me to pass my information along to this division.

In other news, 5 Class of 2011 MBA students will be traveling to Arkansas this Thursday – Sunday to compete in a Graduate Logistics Case Competition, sponsored mainly by Sam’s Club. I have not been to Arkansas for a few years, and I’m excited to compete in another case competition – the Internal Case Competition last year was extremely rewarding!

In case no one else has mentioned it yet, this past Friday was the annual Fisher MBA Halloween party. This time it was held at Callahan’s, in the Arena district. Everyone appeared to having a great time! It was nice to be able to mingle with first and second year students, as well as those from other programs, and their friends and significant others. An important part of maintaining sanity in graduate programs is having a solid support network of friends, and being able to loosen up and “check out” every once in awhile. A big thanks to the Fisher Graduate Student Association Social Chairs for setting up this event!

Check back for another post next week – I look forward to telling you about how the Logistics Case Competition went!


The Hampton Inns of the Midwest

As I sit (in a very cushy) suite at the Hampton Inn in Richmond, Indiana, I realize that I will spend nearly 20% of my time in the foreseeable future in places like this.

Second round (on-site) interviews are a complicated dance between potential employers and employees. It’s not only a chance for you to impress them, but for them to woo you as well.

Case in point. Upon checking in to this particular Hampton, I received a “goody” bag with two pens, a flashlight, a chocolate bar, a box of color-coordinated M&M’s, a book and a leather-ensconced flash drive (never seen one of those before).

This evening, a group of company representatives will be chauffeuring us to the infamous pre-interview dinner. For those of you that may not have participated in one of these yet, be warned, it is 100% NOT about the food. Remember to be polite, ask questions, and most importantly, follow the lead of the company representatives. If they order an adult beverage, feel free to, but I recommend sticking with water or a soda, just to be safe. Remember you are there to interact with your potential employer. It’s fine to talk with the other students, but be cognizant of the things you say, and the tone of your voice, as well as your body language.

Tomorrow is a tour of the headquarters, as well as one of their distribution facility, then a full afternoon of interviewing. It’s important to remember that you should not take anything for granted at any point in this process – even though you may have scored some “loot”,  you must continue to show why YOU are the most qualified, most sincere, and most likely to succeed.

I wish all of you in this position the best of luck – remember you have many resources you can reach out to, such as the Career Management Office, other students, mentors, alumnus, and so many more.

Stacey


Optimism in the Face of Denial

Rejection is something with which we all must contend. Most people have had a significant other give the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech. Some people didn’t get into their desired college, and most have been denied a job at some point. Either way, you never can quite prepare yourself for the sting of hearing “no, I/we don’t want you.” It can be tough on a person’s self-esteem to be rejected in rapid-fire over the course of just a few weeks. Of course the psych undergrad in me wants to see the psychological implications of it all. And it can be even harder not to receive direct feedback once the process is over.

I think it is important overall to let the rejection roll off the shoulders and remember that spaces are limited. However, in some sense, it is also worthwhile to consider the consistent mistakes we all make that can have an effect. Did I show up a little late? Did I say “um” or “like” too much? Did I shake uncontrollably? (Well of course not, but you could see why that might make a recruiter uncomfortable). Since  most of the fall interviewing process is over, everyone can take solace in the encouraging words of graduates and second-years at orientation — don’t worry, we did not receive initial offers during fall quarter. So no need to sweat too much yet — there’s still time.


Networking

We’ve all seen that guy, “the schmoozer”, that seems to be able to go up and talk to anyone in the room about anything.  We all stand back and wonder how he knows so many people and whether his type of networking is really all that important.

I’m here to tell you, it’s pretty important.  While it’s important to be genuine and not just talk to every recruiter in the room for the heck of it, it’s also very important to get out of your comfort zone and put yourself out there in a room full of potential employers.

One thing I’ve picked up since starting my MBA, is how serious Fisher is about networking.  We’ve already had several events to teach us how to improve our networking skills, and numerous other events that have given us the opportunity to use what we just learned in front of potential employers.

I recently spoke with someone at a tailgate outside of the ‘Shoe who worked as a successful consultant at Deloitte for a number of years, he told me,

“I’m not very smart, I just know a TON of people.  It’s all about who you know.”

We’ve all heard this idea countless times, and I think the meaning gets lost on all of us at some point.  But this idea continues to emphasize the importance of networking, he got to where he is today because of who he knows, not what he knows.

WHAT YOU CAN DO…

I know it’s tough to be on top of your game all of the time, but if you prepare you can make it much easier to step out of your comfort zone.  Here are a few points I picked up a couple weeks ago at The Conference and Networking Workshop:

  • Work on a 15-30 second pitch that includes you background and major selling points.
  • Research different companies you want to talk to at the event and develop informed questions.
  • Warm up with a few other companies before you talk to your #1.
  • Exude confidence and act like you deserve to be there.
  • In the end, don’t forget to exchange business cards and make a call to action.  Ask if they’re interviewing on campus or what the next steps are in the interview process.

If you get a chance before you come to Fisher, make a list of friends you know at companies you might want to work for.  Talk to them about their day-to-day, how they like working at their company, etc.  If you need to, perform informational interviews within companies you might be interested in.  The more you get done before you start classes the better, because spare time is hard to find.  Getting started on this will help you shape your career goals and the companies you want to work for, it might also help you identify key people to talk to in order to get an interview.  You never know how valuable a relationship might turn out to be, so go out and make some more connections.

OTHER OPTIONS…

Admittedly, I’m not the best networker out there, there are multiple ways to network though.  In the past when I was afraid of being that guy, I made sure to become friends with that guy.  My relationship with that guy (who happened to have a much bigger network than me) ultimately paid off in the form of a great marketing internship last summer.

I’d like to leave you with a quote by Goethe that I think really drives home the point about not knowing what might be around the next corner…

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin it now.  Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”


Real Experience

Now that the State Fair is over, I’m starting to settle into somewhat of a “normal” routine. I have nothing coming up that I need to leave work early for, I am able to have normal working hours and I feel as though I can be productive at both of my jobs. It’s a nice feeling. I also don’t feel as though I need to take work home in order to stay caught up with my work. That’s also nice because I’m finally nearing the end of unpacking from the move and the wedding. Our apartment is starting to look like a real home, and it’s pretty cool!

Yesterday, while I was at GE, I was going about our daily routine, when my boss came into my cubicle and asked me to phone screen some candidates and schedule interviews. I was pretty excited. It was the first real HR experience I’ve had all summer. Granted, I’ve sat in on union meetings, ‘people moves’ meetings and a lot of stuff HR related, but I haven’t felt like I was in an HR role. It was pretty cool. One individual – he asked how to get to the plant, and I asked where he was coming from. To my complete surprise, he said “Orlando.” My response of “Florida?” I’m sure sounded quite surprised. He said “yes,” and for a second, I didn’t know how to respond. After that call, I finished my calls and lined up the interviews for next week. I’m rearranging my OSU schedule so that I can be there for the interviews when I normally wouldn’t be. I’m excited.

Another thing that’s really exciting is one of my classmates – Mandy Molter, a fellow Fisher Grad Life Blogger - works at the Circleville GE plant. She’s coordinating all of the Co-Ops for 3 or 4 plants and she and I are working together to develop an exit interview/feedback session for the Co-Ops. Again, excited – it’s real experience that I’ve been waiting all summer for. I am sad, however, because my GE BLP HR Co-Op, Rana, is no longer my cubicle buddy. Her last day was Friday, so now I’m all by myself in the space.

I’ve started the search for a full-time job. It may be premature, but I figure it’s probably good of me to start the process and get a few interviews under my belt so that I can have that experience again. I feel as though I’m a little rusty. I’m also signed up to help with the incoming MLHR student orientation. I’m really excited. We’re going to be facilitating some team building exercises. It should be a lot of fun.

For now, I’m off to a Women In Engineering event in a little bit. Should be fun. I really enjoy the demos that some of the grad students do. I’ll try to take pictures to post. Happy Wednesday!


It’s beginning to feel a lot like… Internship and Midterm season!

I apologize to those of you who read the first seven words and began to have the tune for a Christmas song in your head… but it seemed an appropriate way to express my sentiment!

I feel like I just started here at Fisher, but I’ve already had two interviews for internships, with another next week, and a fourth one pending… It’s truly wonderful how many great companies are coming specifically to Fisher to recruit MBA interns. I met some amazing representatives from American Woodmark, Unilever, P&G, Bosch, DOW and many other companies at the Fisher Career Fair the end of last month. From that fair, I was able to get an interview with two very senior employees at American Woodmark. The internship sounds truly amazing, mostly because of how appealing the company culture is. I also got an interview with Johnson&Johnson. One of the interviewers had been a presenter at the Operations & Logistics Boot Camp at Fisher. (The Boot Camps are excellent opportunities to really get a feel for the different career paths, as well as to mingle with professionals). A big thanks to the Office of Career Management for sponsoring so many great opportunities!

The other big news at Fisher is that midterm season is almost upon us! The Class of 2011 has its first midterm next Tuesday, and then two midterms and one midterm presentation the following week. It’s hard to believe that so much time has gone by. As a “newbie” to the quarter system, I am truly amazed at how rapidly the classes progress. I’m sure I won’t be the only one doing some serious studying and reviewing the next two weeks! One really nice thing is that several professors are holding extra review sessions in the evenings and even on weekends, in addition to the normal review sessions during the week. The professors here are truly dedicated to our success – it’s a really nice feeling to know that people really care about our progress!

Good luck to everyone studying, and congratulations to the new FGSA members from the Class of 2011!

Stacey



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