INTERVIEW TIPS by bkiran63


Key to Successful Interviewing                                   2

Preparation                                                3 -4

Questions                                                   5-6

Frequently Asked Questions                                  7-8

Questions for Your Interviewer                                  9

Networking-- Informational Interviews                    10 - 11

Case Interviews for the Consulting Industry              12 - 13

                                          OFFICE OF CAREER SERVICES
                                        CABOT 509 +1 617. 627. 3060
     Keys to Successful Interviews
        DON’T interview for positions you don’t want. DO communicate to the interviewer that you want the
        position (and why) and that there is an excellent chance that you would accept their offer (if this is true).

        BE PREPARED. Most interviews are won or lost based on preparation. Don’t assume that because the
        interviewer is a Fletcher alum you can be less well-prepared.

        Have several good questions to ask the interviewer. Don’t be passive.

        Frame whatever you say positively, even if asked negatively (“What did you like least about your
        previous work as a …”)

        Get across your agenda: three or four selling points for that position. Give examples to demonstrate each
        of those selling points.

        Connect your personal and professional experiences to the position description and the particular
        questions asked during your interview. The interviewer wants to get to know you. The more you create a
        personal connection, the better the impression, and thus, your chances of securing the job you want.

        Know where you are on your career path and how the employer fits in. Having a clear idea of what
        you want to do and how you plan on getting there conveys confidence and drive. Scattered interests
        and vague plans, on the other hand, send the wrong signals.

        Be honest with yourself and the interviewer. You don’t want to talk your way into the wrong position.

        PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!! (And do it before your interviews.)

        Be prepared for questions you hope they won’t ask (e.g., resume gap, previous unrelated experience.)
        Be matter of fact in your responses, not defensive.

        Even if you’re being interviewed for a summer position, know that the company is thinking about you
        long term.

    Post-Interview Suggestions

        ALWAYS send a thank-you letter reiterating why you are a good fit for the position. Ask follow-up
        questions or highlight something you failed to mention during the interview.

        If alumni or references have championed you for the job, let them know whether you are going to
        accept or decline the job before you tell the recruiter.

        If you decline a job, make sure the reason you give is framed in a way to consider the recruiters’ egos
2       and reflects your professionalism. (“Bad” answer: “I really only want the job for a year.” “Better”
        answer: “This was a very difficult decision, but I have decided to accept another offer.”)

    Prepare for job interviews as you would for an examination and you may be able to enjoy
    them as you would an interesting conversation with colleagues. Conversely, if you go into
    an interview without adequate preparation, the experience could feel like an exam for
    which you overslept! Spend time reflecting on your own goals, your strengths and skills, so
    that you can discuss them succinctly. Learn about the employer’s organization and current
    needs so that you understand how and where you would fit.
    OCS recommends a number of resources to help you prepare for interviews:

    •    OCS library--books and exercises on interviewing

    •    Organization web sites and career-related sites, such as and

    •    Newspaper and magazine web sites, e.g. the New York Times, Wall Street Journal,
         Financial Times, Washington Post, Economist. A keyword search can quickly give you a
         review of recent coverage of many organizations of interest to Fletcher students

    •    Company and Organization files at OCS, Cabot 509

    •   OCS referrals and alumni contacts - always check the Mentor Guide

    Researching Yourself

    You know best how to reflect on your own goals and strengths. In the past, Fletcher
    students have recommended a number of tools that they have found useful. Some have
    enjoyed the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI), a self-assessment tool that helps you think
    about personality type and work, or Career Leader, an on-line service that offers you
    guidance in analyzing the type of organization and function you would enjoy. While the
    answers will likely reflect what you already know about yourself, they can help you think
    about how to present this information to an employer concisely.

    To use the MBTI, make an appointment with OCS. To view Career Leader go to Services for
    Students on the OCS homepage.

    Another simple and very helpful exercise to prepare for an interview, recommended by an
    alum, is to create a matrix, listing your skills on one axis and the employers requirements
    on the other to see where they match.


    A punctual, well-dressed and well-groomed candidate is off to a good start.
    Always plan to arrive a little early and allow ample time for travel. Dress codes vary
    according to organization, but always be conservative in your choice. A clean, pressed
    business suit for men and a business suit or dress for women is most appropriate. Hair
    should be neatly cut, beards trimmed. Jewelry, scent, cologne and aftershave should be
    kept to a minimum.

    What kind of questions should you expect? This can be the hardest question to answer. In
    the course of your job search you may meet calm and skilled interviewers and others who
    seem as nervous as you may be. In some organizations interviewers will use a standard
    schedule of questions, and will be rating candidates on a standardized scale. At other
    organizations, a committee with no pre-assigned questions may interview you. Interviews
    also differ by sector. The good news is that, whatever the skills of those who interview
    you, your own careful preparation will be rewarded. Your enthusiasm and thoughtful
    answers will make the tired or bored interviewer sit up, and help the nervous interviewer
    relax and listen.

    In Get Hired (see OCS library), Paul Green identifies four types of interview styles: Gut-
    Feel, Conversational, Trait and Behavioral. Most human resources departments use
    behavioral interviewing in the belief that the best way to predict someone’s actions in the
    future is to know how they did something in the past. However, if you are interviewed by
    other people in the organization, they may rely on one or more of the other interviewing
    styles (see the book for details).

    The best preparation for any of the styles is preparation for a behavioral interview where
    you give examples of how you solved problems in the past. Many of the sample questions
    on the next page are behavioral.

    Typical Questions
    On the following page, OCS offers a list of questions that are commonly-asked. Read them
    through, and consider how many of them are open-ended. Open-ended questions give a
    well-prepared candidate the opportunity to tell the interviewer just what makes them an
    outstanding candidate. As you prepare answers, remember that you will stand out from
    the other candidates if you can describe specific situations, your actions and the results
    that highlight your selling points. Any candidate can claim to be well organized and detail
    oriented. The candidate who says, “My boss claims that the reason my favorite candies
    are M&M’s is because I can color code them” will prove the point and be remembered.

    Interviewers will often ask whether you have had a negative experience, or what you
    consider your weaknesses. A good answer will always be brief, keep the description of the
    downside to a minimum, avoid gratuitous criticism of others, and end on an upbeat note.

    Be Specific
    Many people give vague and general answers to behavorial questions. Give specifics of the
    issue, how you dealt with it, and be ready to give more than one example.

    Be Concise
    However good you are at thinking on your feet, in the pressure of a job interview it can
    be easy to ramble if you are caught by surprise, wasting precious interview minutes, so
    practice your answers aloud and time yourself.

    After an interview, always sit down and make some notes on how it went. If there were
    questions that surprised you, or that you wish you had answered differently, write them
    down now, and when you are relaxed, go back to your notes and prepare the answer you
    would like to give next time.

    Send thank you notes, which may be typed or handwritten, if your writing is legible. A
    note by-email is acceptable, but should be as formal as a note on paper. Address the
    reader as Dear ___, not Hi,___ Keep the letter brief, thank the interviewer for their
    time, and indicate your continued interest.

      Frequently Asked Questions
    • Tell me about yourself.

    • What are your strengths and weaknesses? (Make sure you can list several of the former. For ideas, see
      our Self-Assessment handout.)

    • What is your greatest passion?

    • What three or four adjectives would a supervisor use to describe you? Why? Give examples to display
      those qualities.

    • What three or four adjectives would a colleague use to describe you? Why? Give examples to display
      those qualities.

    • How would you describe yourself? Are you a forest or a tree person?

    • What is the procedure you go through to make a decision?

    • How do you organize your time?

    • What do you do in your spare time?

    • What are the most important things for you in a job?

    • What achievement that is not on your resume are you most proud of?


    • Give me an example of a time you demonstrated leadership.

    • Give me an example of a time when you worked on a team. (viz, as a team player, not leader).

    • Tell me about a time when there was conflict of personalities, and how you handled it.

    • Describe a situation in which you were presented with a task or instructions with which you disagreed.

    • How creative are you? Give an example of a creative idea/solution you developed.

    • Why did you choose Fletcher for graduate school?

    • Why should I hire you instead of an MBA candidate?

     Frequently Asked Quesitons
    • Explain your decision to pursue a career in this sector after “x” years of unrelated work..

    • What courses at Fletcher did you enjoy the most/least? Why?

    • Why are you interested in this industry?

    • Why did you choose to interview with this company/organization?

    • What did you do to prepare for this interview?

    • Describe the ideal position for you in our firm.

    • Who else are you interviewing with?

    • What qualities do you think make someone successful in this industry/organization?

    • How do you think you could contribute to the objectives of our organization/company?

    • What experience do you have in managing others?

    • What qualities make a good/poor manager?

    • How do you feel about travel, overtime demands of the industry?

    • Why do you think you are qualified for this position?

    • What did you like most, and least, about your previous positions?

    • Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?

    • What questions do you have for me (the interviewer)?

    Other Sources for Questions

    Netscape Career Center:’s Private Sector Company Interviews:

                       Questions for your Interviewer
                      Employers will also expect you to have questions for them. Below are some suggestions
                      to help you think about what you may wish to ask. Remember that questions about salary,
                      benefits, starting date, etc are always best left until after you receive an offer.

                             • What do you see as the strengths of the organization? What do you see as
                               the greatest challenges?

                             • Tell me about the work environment.

                             • How is the department organized in which I would work?

                             • Does management encourage promotion from within the organization?

                             • What would be the goals for the first six months I was here?

                             • Why do you enjoy working here?

For past student             • If you could introduce, change, or modify three things about your
feedback on job                organization over the next year without additional resources, what would they
interviews, see the            be? (You will find that people reveal a lot about the organization in this
Last Will and
Testament from the
Class of 2000
binder in OCS.        Take notes or remember the answers, so you can list them in your thank you note and say
                      what you would do to address them.

       Networking -- Informational Interviews

     Informational interviews are part of your networking plan and an important and on-going
     part of your job search. Talking with professionals in an organization where you might
     like to work is the best way to gather current information, and to prepare yourself for
     future interviews both there and elsewhere. Prepare as you would for a job interview, but
     this time think about what questions you would like to ask in a 20 minute appointment.
     Here are some examples:

     •         How does this division fit within the organization?
     •         What are your principal responsibilities?
     •         Why do you like working here?
     •         What courses did you take at Fletcher that are particularly valuable in your work?
     •         How do people get their first position in this field?
     •         How job-secure are people with your expertise?
     •         Are frequent moves among organizations necessary to move up the ladder?
     •         What is the hiring cycle?
     •         Can you recommend anyone else to meet with, either in this organization or another?

     Don’t ask for a job! It is considered bad manners and puts the person you are meeting
     with in an embarrassing position.


     Do send a “thank you” letter after the interview thanking the person for his/her time and
     the help he/she gave you.


     The following page contains sample letters/emails requesting for informational interviews.

     SAMPLE 1

     Dear ---------(Fletcher alumnus/a):

     I will graduate from Fletcher in 2003 with fields of study in International Negotiation and Conflict
     Resolution and International Environmental Policy. I am very interested in learning more about your
     work on policy issues in the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
     Would you have twenty minutes to spare for an informational interview at your convenience in the next

     I look forward to hearing from you.


     John Albert


     Dear Ms. Smith:

     A good friend of mine, Matthew O'Connell, recently suggested that I contact you. I am contemplating
     making a career shift toward interior design and am at a stage currently where I am exploring the field
     in general as well as the various options that may lie within it for full- and part-time opportunities down
     the road.

     To gain practical exposure, I have begun taking design related classes at the Boston Architectural Center.
     The research I'm undertaking currently will hopefully lead me to an educated decision about whether to
     undertake a more concentrated program of study there.

     Matt speaks of you highly, and your experience in both commercial and residential design would
     certainly allow me to gain valuable insight into comparing opportunities on both sides. Might it be
     possible to arrange an informational interview with you at some point this spring? Please kindly let me
     know your availability and what sort of arrangement would work best for you.


     Marianne Fremont

     Case Interviews for the Consulting Industry

     Case interviews are the standard in the field of consulting. Applicants for positions with consulting firms
     can expect several rounds of interviews. In each round candidates are evaluated on their personal
     qualities, which are of great importance to the company as the prospective employee will work closely
     with others on a consulting team and will make presentations to the client.

     In addition, candidates are also evaluated on their skills, in particular whether they possess the
     intellectual ability, analytical skills and common sense approach to problem-solving to develop reasonable
     solutions to business problems in a limited time. Remember, consultants’ clients are seeking practical,
     affordable solutions to business challenges!

     What to Expect
     Candidates should be prepared to answer all the standard interview questions, and also prepare for three
     types of questions which are used in assessing candidates in the consulting industry; brain teasers,
     estimating problems, and business problems. You may certainly take notes, and work out the numbers on
     paper. Round all your figures so you can work quickly!

     Brain Teasers | Estimating Problems
     Brain teasers have only one correct answer which may be a deduced in a number of ways. Estimating
     problems require that you offer a reasonable answer to the question posed. In either case, the
     interviewer is more interested in the way you tackle the problem, than in the answer. Your answer
     should, however, be reasonable. Take the time to familiarize yourself with some basic numbers. (A book
     such as the Wall Street Journal Almanac may be helpful.) If you know the population of the USA, or
     metropolitan Boston or New York, you have some place to start to answer a question like “How many
     radio stations do you think there are in the USA?” For brain teasers, buy a Mensa-style book of problems,
     and try some out. It will get your mind running on the right course. Practice builds speed and confidence.

     Business Problems
     The third type of question, a business problem, can be more challenging to prepare. Typically, an
     interviewer will describe a current or past case, and ask for your advice to the client. This is an
     opportunity for you to analyze the issues by asking lots of questions, as you work your way to a bottom-
     line recommendation. Obviously, you cannot prepare the answer in advance, but you can prepare
     yourself in two ways. First, spend time reading about business in such periodicals as The Economist, Wall
     Street Journal, and the New York Times so that you are well-versed in current issues. Second, (this is a
     recommendation from a young management consultant), take some time every week to think about local
     businesses you frequent: dry cleaner, supermarket, photocopying store. Analyze the business in terms of
     market, costs, competition, and capabilities. With this kind of regular practice in disaggregating problems,
     you will feel much more comfortable in discussing business problems in your interviews.

     Case Interviews for the Consulting Industry

     The OCS libraray has a number of books that will help you prepare for case interviews. Practice is
     essential. Students in the past have joined the consulting club and practiced case interview questions in
     small groups. OCS also brings alumni and case interview experts to campus to teach workshops early in
     the fall each year. Check the Fletcher online calendar for the schedule, or in OCS.

     Sample Interview Questions
     Be sure to use all the resources listed in the bibliography at the end of this section to prepare for case
     method interviews. Many of these resources will lead you to sample business problem questions. Here
     are some general questions to get you started:

     • Give me an example of an analytical challenge: how did you address it, and how it was resolved?

     • What qualities make for a successful consultant?

     • Are you comfortable with the travel requirements and the periods of very intense work that
       consulting demands?

     • Discuss your style as a team leader and a team member.

     • How would you address the skepticism of a client? (“You have never worked in this industry. How
       could you help me?”).

     • Why should I hire you?

     • How do you measure a building’s height using a barometer?

     Websites with Questions




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