If you’re an MBA student or a recent graduate, and you’re interviewing for a full-time job, you’ll find that most interviews start off in more or less the same way. Interviewers want to know who you are, what motivated you to apply, and what you can do for the company. Having well-thought-out answers to common questions should help to get an interview off to a good start, grow your confidence, and set you up for a strong performance overall. The following are some tips that you may want to keep in mind as you prepare for upcoming interviews.
Tell Me About Yourself
Like most conversations, a job interview will start off with a round of introductions. After a brief introduction to him -or -herself, the interviewer might ask you to introduce yourself. The exact phrasing of the question can vary (“Tell me about yourself” versus “Walk me through your resume”), but your answer should be the same.
To answer this question, provide a 2-3 minute overview of your motivations and professional experience. If you’re in the middle of a job search, you should already have an elevator pitch prepared, and you can reuse a lot of the content for this question. The basic format is as follows:
- Start off with where you’re at now: Maybe you’re going to school full-time, or maybe you’re attending a program part-time, while working during the day.
- Provide an overview of your professional experience: What have you done? What responsibilities did you hold? And, most importantly, what did you accomplish?
- Tie everything together: Explain what led you back to school, and connect that to this opportunity. For example, you might say, “While I enjoyed the technical aspects of being an engineer, I always enjoyed the opportunity to work on strategic projects, which led me to pursue an MBA degree. This role would allow me to combine that technical expertise with my passion for developing new businesses.”
What do you know about this company?
Employers want to see that you’ve done your homework, and that you’re motivated by more than a paycheck. In response to this question, you want to convey genuine interest, but you don’t want to seem like you’re reciting content verbatim from the company’s mission statement. It can be tricky.
To prepare for this question, there are a lot of resources at your disposal, including the company’s web site, past press releases, financial documents, and conference presentations given by key stakeholders. Whenever possible, your answer should come from the perspective of the specific role that you’re considering. Put another way, if you’re applying for a job in operations management, you should discuss what interests or impresses you about the company’s approach in your answer. For example, if the company recently announced an initiative to weed out suppliers who treat workers poorly, and this is a cause you’re passionate about, take the opportunity to explain that you’ve applied for a reason.
Why should we hire you?
This question can seem overly direct, and even intimidating, but it’s actually a great opportunity for you to take control of the conversation. The key is to pick out a few requirements for the role, and explain how your background and experience puts you in strong position to deliver on them.
To answer this question, identify two to three skills or experience requirements, and give specific examples of what you bring to the table. You can feel free to draw on both your past work experience and your academic background. (The latter will be particularly relevant for career-switchers.) Lean on the STAR method – Situation, Task, Action, Result – to structure your answer. If you’re discussing multiple skills, you’ll need to be brief. But entice the interviewer to ask you follow up questions – ones that will allow you to showcase more of your unique experience and attributes.
Because most interviews for post-MBA positions start off similarly, you should show up ready to nail the first few questions. The tips outlined in this article should help. But you should also remember that not every interviewer is the same. Some will follow the standard routine. Others will go off script. Having structured answers is great, but you should be ready to adapt them to new formats on the fly.