Category Archives: Undergrad
By: Alexander Bealin
Attention underclassmen! While you are still in “productive mode” leading up to finals, it is wise to create a strategy for this summer’s professional development. Many of you are reaching the point in your college career where you will start shifting your attention from coursework and club activities to applications for jobs and internships, where you can leverage yourself using acquired skills and knowledge from your college experiences. Gaining a strong grip of what to look for while applying to internships next school year will allow you to be more productive in sloshing through applications and finding out ways to distinguish yourself for your future career.
My suggestion to rising sophomores and juniors who will be going through some sort of internship search process in the near future is to utilize the summer to reflect on your previous classes and conduct employer research with this goal in mind: to figure out what industry or career path on which you best fit, and more importantly see yourself working in years down the line. Although the official start of many students’ internship searches is in September, when dozens of applications start getting released to university job portals and more, it is never too early to start doing research on companies that peak your interest. I think of this reflection as the “early stages” of internship research, which sort of forms itself into a summer checklist that initiates the application process during the school year. The best way to fill out your summer checklist is dividing it into three parts. These are (1) the job fit rubric, (2) current internship analysis, and (3) asking questions/hosting informational interviews, where each contributes in their own way to help guide your thinking toward industry or company preferences.
To start, ask yourself what you are looking for in an industry or company, and why those are important criteria. Is the location of the company important? What initiatives do you identify with? What skills of yours do you see as useful for the company? If a company rates high in several of these items, then you can record the company on your interest list and look out for their future postings. This means that the company has passed the “early stages” of research. Additionally, once you jot down several of these criteria and sort them accordingly, you can use them as your job fit rubric for applications that you look through during the school year. If the application scores high, then fill it out!
Second, if you are working over the summer through a job or internship, it is important to note that one of the most useful aspects of working over the summer is recognizing whether you want to stay in that industry or company that you are working for. For example, if you are a Finance major and you are interning at an economic consulting firm, you should reflect several times throughout the summer on whether you would want to continue in that field. If not, then you will know to avoid that field during the application process next school year.
Third, do not forget to ask questions! While filling out the job fit rubric and jotting down company names is a good start, there is no way that a website or job posting will answer all of your questions. I believe the best people to ask about internships or the research process is your more experienced classmates and friends, as well as those who work in the Fowler Career Center. We strive to create and sustain mutually beneficial relationships with employers from all fields, and therefore are a resource to you to help find any information you need to know about a company or internship program. To take the idea a step further, use the Career Center’s resources and events (even over the summer) to guide you in building meaningful connections with employers, who you then can ask for their time to give an informational interview. By fully developing and executing your personal summer checklist over this summer, you can achieve great results that will put you ahead in the job or internship search process over the course of the next school year.
By: Alexandra Black- Junior: Marketing/International Business
“So, tell me a little about yourself.”
I am assuming one way or another each and every one of you had a psychological reaction to reading that well-known interview question. However, understanding what that question is really asking goes much further past your typical resume and cover letter information or elevator pitch. The information and advice the Fowler Center gives is very relevant and should still be applied when networking or going through an interview process. However, you will constantly hear how you should “just be yourself” or “just be professional” or “just stand out.” So how do you get to the meat of what the interviewer wants to know yet still showing your personality? Here are the 5 Interview Knows that I have learned from professional advice to feedback to personal experiences.
- Know your story.
When preparing for my most recent interviews, two very intelligent women gave me two threads of advice that go together harmoniously with this topic:
Figure out how you got to where you are and who you are. Relevant things and events happened along the way that brought to this spot; find them.
Do not be scared of the recruiter. They do not know anything that you don’t, since no one knows you better than yourself.
These tidbits made me realize that your personal brand is more than the points you were told you need to mention for the interviewer to get the “whole picture.” In reality, the holistic view comes from learning who you are through how you became who you are. At the end of the day, you are selling your brand of being the right candidate for this position. But you are more than a piece of copy-write; you have a personal journey that only you know entirely and that you formed mostly on your own. Our natural tendency in conversation is storytelling, so use that to your advantage.
Questions to think about when finding your story are:
What position am I going for? Why do I want this position? What qualifications do I have for this positions? Where did I get these qualifications from? What in my life made me realize that I want to do this? Where do I want to go from here? How will this position help me reach my end goal?
E.g. I grew up in New York City surrounded by big personalities and engulfed in a fast-paced environment. After doing the finances and budgeting for a local flower shop after high school, I developed analytical, organizational, and communication skills through my daily tasks. Being surrounded by multi-million dollar apartments and walking by the famous Upper West Side brownstones every day on the way to work inspired me to consider real estate development. I started to pursue this passion through joining REFA at GW and attending various workshops and panels focused on city development. My goal for after graduation is to work with a startup, city based real estate developer focused in affordable housing for lower income families. I am passionate about the logistical and social side of real estate and am excited to learn more about the industry through a position like this.
- Know your quirks and work with them.
In order to have a winning brand, you need to have unique qualities that set you apart from the competition. People are defined by their characteristics, specifically their quirks. These interviewers are looking for a person to work with, not a robot. Showing that you are the type of person who is good at their job, but also fun to be around, is a major point in the hiring process. The interview is there for them to meet the person, not the resume.
I am an extroverted person who has a lot of weird things happen to her. My big personality is no secret to anyone I meet, including interviewers. I also have done theatre my whole life; so being loud, telling these weird stories as often as I can, and making large gestures is part of who I am. Although it can work to my advantage as being seen as confident, I also know that it can hurt me. When you’re given a 30-minute slot and tend to ramble or try to be too personal, it comes off badly. Being able to recognize my quirks and channel them to relevant, professional sidebar storytelling and avoid rambling has made a lot of my interviews more comfortable. It also has made my ability to express my SAR statements in a more natural way.
- Know what drives you.
Recruiters want to know what type of employee they are potentially hiring. No matter what stage you are at in life, how many jobs you’ve had, or how much money you’ve made, there will always be something new that drives you to the next place. A common question in interviews is often, “what inspires/drives you?” When I first heard that question, I froze. What profound aspect of life could a 17-year-old college freshman be driven by? Answer: less profound than you probably think; and that is how it should be. You don’t need to be driven to end world hunger or house every homeless person, but you do need to know what values spark your decisions.
We each have our top 5 life values and work values. Work values are the characteristics within a company’s culture that align with various human characteristics of employees; these can vary from anything from money to collectiveness to social responsibility. It is imperative to know what values you ae looking for from a company before your interview. This does not mean that they have to score 5/5 and you are automatically matched for life, but it gives you a good idea of what the company culture is like and how you will do in it. These values also translate into a talking point for questions such as “What makes you a good fit?” or “Why our company?”
- Know what you know, and know what you don’t know.
This seemingly redundant tidbit is relevant throughout the entire interview. Even if you prepped every single question, fit every qualification, and did all of your research before the interview, if you do not understand what you do not know, you can lose the job. We covered you narrowing down and knowing your story, but there are scenarios you have never been in or plans you have never thought of that come into question. Being able to pinpoint the aspects you know about yourself, your future, and the opportunities with this company is very valuable; but diving in and questioning those situations that you do not know is what puts you one step ahead.
This is also applicable to research on the company. We tell you in our presentations to have questions prepared for the time after the interview, but the types of questions you have say a lot about who you are as a candidate. Instead of vague, typical questions like “What is the company culture like?” try something more relevant to the interviewer. E.g. “What has been the most rewarding thing you have learned from your team?” On the other side, trying to show off that you did your research and know their mission statement or stock market index is not helpful either. So, instead of “How do you feel about the recent plunge of your company’s stock prices?” (which can also be seen as inappropriate) go with something that affects him or her on a professional and person level. E.g. “I saw that the company recently launched a campaign on closing the wage gap. Have there been any initiatives or changes within your team/office?”
- Know who you want to become.
At the end of the day, the position does not define the person, the person defines the position. Companies want to foster individuals to be the best employee and person he or she can be. Always keep an end goal in your path past whichever job you are applying for; one job is not the say all end all. However, after going through the previous 4 “knows,” the person you are aspiring to become along the way should present itself pretty clearly.
Finding your career path as a transfer
By: Connor Johnson
Transferring into the School of Business can be an intimidating experience. Not only do you have to adjust to new classes, new professors and an entirely new GWork system (as well as the approval process that comes with it), you also have to decide what career path to pursue. Unless you were previously an economics major, you most likely did not consider a career in a field like finance or accounting or marketing before coming to college. It can be overwhelming trying to decide, which is only compounded by the knowledge that you don’t even have the full four years of the typical college experience to figure it out.
As a transfer from the Elliott School of International Affairs, this was my experience during the Fall 2015 semester. I knew the classes I was taking in Elliott, although very interesting, were just not the right fit for me. That, combined with my experience rushing and pledging Alpha Kappa Psi, one of the professional business fraternities on campus, was enough to help me realize that business was a good fit. Once I was enrolled in my business courses, however, I quickly realized I had only a vague notion of what discipline in which I wanted to concentrate and eventually work. Finance had been my initial target and ultimately the right choice for me, but I was still left wondering how I would make my decision. Luckily, there are many resources available that can help you reach that decision.
First and foremost, make sure you make full use of the career coaches! Not only are they trained in all aspects of the career search process including career exploration, but can also provide you with an inventory of GW resources to assist you. One of these resources is the Strong Interest Inventory (SII), which I’ve had the pleasure of using myself. The SII is similar to the online quizzes that claim to help you discover your future career, but with roughly 10 times as many questions and an in-depth report at the end. Your career coaches will help you understand this report, and the information contained within will be invaluable in the career exploration process.
Other methods include informational interviews with industry professionals, going to information sessions and career fairs, and even speaking to your fellow students. However, what’s important to remember in your career search is that the emphasis is on your career, not your major. Although majoring in the field you eventually want to work in can be very beneficial, your studies do not define your career. In my own career search, I’ve met insurance executives who were marketing majors, graphic designers who studied economics, and even underwriters who were English majors. The important thing to focus on is what interests you, and then move on from there. As long as you keep that in mind, you’ll find your calling wherever it may lie.
By: Stephen Beattie
As students, we are inundated with emails from the school about “must attend” networking events, or special guest speakers. We should be grateful that big name companies such as Deloitte, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Citibank want to hear from us students, but there is a group of us whose chests tighten and anxiety rises when we hear the word “networking.” I am referring to introverted students who would almost certainly be at home reading a book rather than in a large ballroom with 200 other students circling around the outnumbered recruiters and other employers like sharks. In many of my first networking experiences, I would stride into Duques Hall, awkwardly fill out my name always aligned a little too far left on the “Hello, my name is…” sticker, then quickly shuffle over to the corner of the room where I would stand for far too long chatting to a friend from class. Everyone looked like they were enjoying their time, talking to recruiters and asking questions that were way over my head. At the end of the event, I would walk away feeling guilty that I had not made more of the situation, but proud that I at least showed up. Questions fill my head: “What did that mean? What should I ask? Have I been standing here too long? Do I know anyone here? Do people think it is weird that I am standing here alone?”
Breathe. Networking is a skill just like any other that takes time, patience, and practice. Unlike introverts, extroverts get energy from interacting with other people and through making connections. On the other hand, introverts expend a lot of energy just to hold a conversation with one person, needless a group of people. The key to becoming more comfortable with networking is to identify your strengths as an introvert and use these in your experience. I will cover a few approaches that have worked for me; however, it is important to note that everyone’s strengths are different and may not configure to these suggestions.
Have short conversations with people and get contact information.
Most of my anxiety was caused by the hordes of people that would crowd around a single employer. I often found myself on the edge of conversations contemplating whether to join or flee in search of a smaller group. It is hard to have a deep conversation at large networking events, and I find it more helpful to have a short conversation with someone to discover who they are and what their responsibilities are at an organization. A trick I use to do this is to excuse myself from a conversation by saying, “Such and such suggested we meet, but I need to run in a minute, so I was hoping I could get your card and follow up later. Thank you for your time.” After you get their contact information, follow up at a later date to set up an information interview over lunch or coffee. This way you can create an environment that is more fitting to your personality and strengths. At the same time, if you find yourself involved in a deep conversation, focus on keeping the conversation going, but be aware to not take up too much of the other person’s time, especially if other students are waiting to network.
Be aware of your strengths and utilize them.
Big groups scare me. It takes a lot of energy and effort to just join the conversation of one group. I know my strength lies in one-on-one conversations and presentation, though. To take advantage of this, I focus less on the size of a networking group and more on getting an employer’s contact information. I set up a lunch or coffee meeting using this contact information, so I can use my natural ability to talk to this employer and learn from them. Additionally, this one-on-one meeting gives me a better chance at making an impression and growing my network, which is the end goal of networking. Employers meet hundreds of students at these networking events, and it is hard for them to remember you unless you make yourself standout. This is a heavy task for introverts, but a one-on-one meeting gives you the environment to better showcase your strengths and make in impression.
Use the “buddy-system.”
If you are like me, you want to be able to go to a networking event with more confidence and comfort. A good beginning step that I used was a variation of the “buddy system” reminiscent of elementary school field trips. Find a friend to come to the event with you, or maybe invite that person you are standing in the corner with to go join a group conversation together. Not only are you expanding your student network, but you also take much of the attention off you when you join a conversation. I often found it helpful to have a friend with me in a conversation because I could relate our combined experience together in a class or organization. For instance, “Kim here and I faced a similar situation in such and such organization when we were tasked with this initiative.” While sharing your experience with the employer, you also display your networking skills by including a fellow student in the conversation. This is a good technique to start with, but over time, try to move away from it so you can become more independent with your networking skills.
Practice, practice, practice.
Like anything else, networking is a skill that requires practice to become comfortable with. We introverts need to consciously practice more than our counterparts because it is not something that comes naturally to us. On the other hand, we have other natural abilities that, when aware of and used correctly, make us stand out to recruiters and employers.
In the end, a network is not only advantageous in business, but also necessary. Whether your network is created through traditional networking events or through the less conventional one-on-one meetings, a network helps you find mentors, employers, and opportunities. I hope my quick tips help you in your quest to grow your network.
By: Carly Whitmer
In my year as a Fowler Coordinator, I have met an astounding number of students in search of interning abroad, even if it is just for a month or two. Luckily, I have some experience in that area.
Like many, I was not entirely sure what I wanted to do for my sophomore year summer. I knew I wanted a different experience, and having long-term aspirations of working abroad, decided to try to intern abroad in Italy. While GWSB has a ton of opportunities for internships and full time jobs in the US, I did not find anything fitting my criteria of working abroad. Chances are if you are in the same boat, you may not either.
That’s when you have to take things into your own hands. As is true with a lot of other aspects of life, sometimes you have just got to put yourself out there, take a leap outside of your comfort zone and hope for the best.
In my opinion, there are two different paths to interning abroad. First, you can go abroad with an American company. If you want to do that, I would start reaching out immediately to every contact you have in that company and asking them where to start. Many companies have built-in internship programs with the option to go abroad, and if not, at least you asked. I would also recommend scouring the company’s website to see if you can find any opportunities. If you are not sure which company you would like to go abroad with, cast a wide net and search broadly on Google for internships abroad. I know from personal experience that there are a ton of opportunities online. Talk to any professors at GWSB who you know have international experience. They are great resources that we as students don’t use nearly enough. Also, do not be afraid of paying for an experience. I paid for a short-term study abroad program and the same company had the option of paying an intern to work abroad for a summer. Look into those programs and see if any are a match for you.
For me, I was more concerned with having an immersive experience in Italy where I would be speaking Italian every day. I knew I did not want to work for an American company abroad. If you decide you want an immersive experience, I suggest reaching out to companies directly. Personally, I reached out to over 10 hotels in Italy where I was interested in working. I heard back from 1, and another once it was too late. I wound up working at the one I heard back from and had a unique, incredible experience. However, if I had not taken the steps to “cold email” the hotels, I would have never had the experience. While it was scary to take that step, the worst they could have said was “no”, which is the worst that anyone can tell you as well. If you speak the language of the country where you’re interested in going, even better. From what I learned from my time in Italy, smaller foreign companies are always in need of free or low-cost work (read: intern), and even better if the intern can speak English and the country’s native language. If you are taking language classes at GW, take some time to talk to your professors to see if they have any suggestions.
The bottom line is that a lot of this is in your hands. If you want a unique experience, you will need to go through some extra steps to get there. But let me tell you – it’s well worth the extra work!
By: Ryan Lasker
Cover letters might be one of the most labor-intensive aspects of applying to a job. You might think, “Do I really need to submit a cover letter with this application?” But if the application says you may submit a cover letter, the answer should be yes, here’s why.
First, it’s a way for potential employers to get a taste of your writing skills. In virtually any position to which you are applying, writing will be essential, whether in the form of internal memos or reports, or even through social media posts that touch thousands of people. While a resume tells your story, outside a writing sample that an employer might ask for, the cover letter is the only place where a hiring manager can assess how well you can tell your story.
Next, the way you write your cover letter says something about your ability to express yourself. While a cover letter is not the same as a persuasive piece, there’s an element of it that requires you to be able to advocate for yourself – an important aspect of being on a team. Through your cover letter, you can show how you can develop a full thought in a concise and effective way.
A cover letter also shows a genuine interest in a certain position in a way your resume cannot. Cover letters require a high level of customization, similar to how a resume should be edited to include specific keywords, and that additional time spent applying will make your application stronger. The cover letter is the place to show off how you can contribute to the company’s mission in addition to how much you already know about the company and the industry.
Finally, be confident in submitting a cover letter even if you’re unsure it will be read. Some students have a preconceived notion that no hiring manager will take the time to read through a cover letter before making a decision on whether to invite someone in for an interview. But, that’s not always true. Hiring managers will often supplement a candidate’s profile with a cover letter, and that’s because it says so much about the candidate.
Happy writing, and don’t hesitate to meet up with a Fowler Coordinator and/or Career Coach to get your resume reviewed!
By: Alexander Bealin
Back in October 2016, when I was deep in the weeds of the summer finance internship application process, I ran into an issue while getting ready for interviews. I had already made my interview preparation goals very clear: (1) I will conduct extensive research in order to demonstrate proper knowledge of the company and internship position, (2) I will develop strategic, thoughtful questions about current events to show a deep interest in the financial field, and (3) I will exhibit overall confidence and professionalism during the interview in order to represent a determined and strong candidate for the position.
I intended to use this rubric to guide my performance while studying companies and my industry for my upcoming interviews, and it all was going smoothly at first. The night before a five-hour long super day for a top-preference internship program, complete with multiple final round interviews, I looked at my study guide and was pleased. All of my questions, research, notes, and reminders were written down in front of me, culminated and organized together beautifully on the paper. I decided to check them with my priorities that I listed at the beginning of the year. Will I be able to exemplify my knowledge and skills in the interview? Absolutely! After hours of making and looking through my notes, I knew that I could answer any question about the company or its competitors. Will I be able to ask smart questions about goings-on in the financial world or the program? You bet! I had the questions written down in my portfolio, each containing topics that I knew something about to further continue the conversation after their response. And finally, will I be able to display professionalism and confidence during my interview?
Looking down at my notes, I realized that I was missing this key element to my interview prep. After gathering all the surface-level facts and other information from articles, courses, and fellow students, I practically did not think about the deeper impression that I must make to help me stand out from the several other candidates. My day would consist of three or four different types of interviews, such as job-fit, behavioral, and case, and my task was to “wow” each interviewer. General knowledge about the industry, company, and field are a good start, but I did not believe they would allow me to stand out as much as I wanted.
I discovered that an underrated aspect of an interaction such as a job interview, presentation, networking event, or anything else that inherently includes subjective evaluation is body language. While going through the internship application process, college students should treat interviews as if they are meeting a new person or developing a new professional relationship, even if you know you are not going to talk to the person again. The online sources covering this topic are extremely helpful, and I feel that I can sum up my takeaways in a few points.
First and foremost, you should remain undeniably positive while talking to your interviewer. It is just plain contagious! The interviewer will most likely feed off of your energy and enjoy speaking with you. Combining that with your knowledgeable answers puts you in good standing. Second, what I would recommend about body positioning is to maintain steady and courteous eye contact throughout your dialogue with the interviewer, as well as leaning forward in your chair to express genuine engagement in what they are saying. Lastly, you should find the right tone and pace in your voice to communicate importance and clearly express what you are talking about, which means avoiding both a slow, monotone voice as well as a panicking, rushed voice clicking through presentation slides.
When preparing for an interview, you cannot study for everything. In order to achieve my priority of exhibiting overall confidence and professionalism, I turned to body language to make a deeper impression on my interviewers. After looking through my resume and asking me different types of job-fit, behavioral, and case interview questions, my interviewers should take with them the idea that I would be a good person to work with in the office. Because of my strategy that included both research and body language, I will be working for that top-preference internship program over the summer, and I am certain that confident and professional body language will continue to be vital to standing out from the crowd in all interviews and networking settings.
By Hannah Sassi
Some of the other Fowler Coordinators and I have had students ask what they should do the summer after their freshman year. If you’re a freshman asking about this, I don’t blame you. With so much emphasis put on opportunities for upperclassmen, you are probably wondering if maybe you are already falling behind the curve. I am here to assure you that it’s great you are already exploring opportunities, but you also have nothing to worry about.
The summer after my freshman year I worked as a “Retail Banking Intern” at a smaller regional bank near my hometown. I soon discovered that I was essentially a bank teller with a few additional responsibilities. It wasn’t the most impressive experience I’ve had, but it turned out to be more influential than I ever would have guessed. That is because I got to understand how banks operate on a small scale and how each customer interaction and transaction matters. I saw the impact that this small bank had on the lives of people in its community and this sparked my interest in a career in finance, because I saw how banks helped people achieve their dreams. Now, almost 3 years later, I will be starting my career at a bank, so I guess I’ve come full circle.
My advice to freshmen is to look into potential opportunities, but don’t stress about getting a great summer job or internship. One thing to keep in mind is that several of the most well-known companies offer leadership programs for freshman (and sophomore) students. These programs, or “externships”, usually involve a day or several days of seminars, career development, and networking. They vary from company to company, but many are focused on diversity students or look for students with certain educational backgrounds, such as STEM. Some of the companies that offer these programs include Google, Facebook, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, EY, PwC, KPMG, Deloitte, and Microsoft. If you are interested in working for a specific company, do a quick search to see if they offer an externship or internship. Take some time to apply to a few programs because they are always great chances to learn more about a certain company or industry.
At the end of the day, any job experience you have during the summer will help you gain key skills that you can use over the course of your career. This can range from customer service to handling transactions to general organization or office etiquette. And you’ll be surprised how an experience that you thought was insignificant will help you in an application or interview later on. Whether it is an externship or a summer job back home, my advice is to make the most of your experience this summer and have fun!
By: Christina Giordano
With the GWSB Career Expo soon approaching, it is important to have some best practices in mind to make the most of your time. Let’s be honest, career fairs can be incredibly overwhelming for you and for employers. There are dozens of employers present and hundreds of students jumping at the opportunity to talk with their dream company. So how do you make sure you’re making the most of your time? The first tip to cracking the career fair code is to have your thirty second pitch ready. If there’s a company you’re really interested in, make sure to visit their website beforehand to see if there are any internship or full time job opportunities already posted. Mention your interest in those specific positions and why you’d be a great fit for the company. Do the research and have at least two well thought out questions in your back pocket. Also, research the company and some of their recent projects or initiatives in order to demonstrate your knowledge of that.
Second, practice your thirty second pitch. It’s great to practice in the mirror or with friends, but you can also practice at the career fair. Before going to your number one company, go to another firm’s table and practice speaking to them. This allows you to shake off some nerves and prepare you for the career fair mindset. When I went to my first career fair freshman year, I went straight to the company I wanted an internship with and was so awkward because I was too nervous to effectively market myself. After visiting your dream company’s booth, go ahead and visit other booths that you hadn’t considered beforehand. You may be pleasantly surprised!
Third, make sure you’re conscientious of the career fair etiquette. This means, don’t monopolize an employer or recruiter’s time for 15-20 minutes while there is a line of 20 other students waiting behind you. But, don’t introduce yourself, drop your resume and run in under a minute. Gauge your time and don’t linger longer than you have to. With that said, try to gauge the length of your visit by how well the conversation is going.
Fourth, ask for a business card or the best way to follow up with the person you speak with. A thank you email can go a long way. Also when you’re at the career fair jot down some notes about what you talked about so you can include some specifics in your email because they are also speaking with hundreds of students. As always, you want to dress to impress so make sure you’re sporting your best business professional outfit. If you have any questions about attire, feel free to visit FDFCC for further guidance. Also, bring at least a dozen copies of your resume (Bring some extra just in case you spill coffee on one or give out more copies than you intended.)
Career fairs are a great way to learn more about an opportunity you’re interested in and for the employer to attach a name to a face, especially if you already applied to a position there. To maximize your success, prepare, be confident and follow up after your career fair experience!
By: Addy Holmes
At some point in your life, you will have to go through an interview. This could be for anything: a job, a student org, a leadership position, etc. While employers typically ask questions that are relevant to a certain position, there are certain interview questions that are always asked, regardless of the company or industry.
Tell Me About Yourself
This question is probably the most common way to start an interview. It’s open ended but gives the interviewer great insight into who you are as a person. Your answer shows what your passionate about and which things you find important.
“I am a junior in the Business School, studying Finance Business Analytics and minoring in Statistics. On campus, I am the Executive Vice President of GW Data and an active member in the Finance and Investment Club. I have had several finance and banking internships in the past. Most recently, I interned for Barclays in financial services. I’m very interested in of data analysis and finance and am excited about the idea of a career which combines the two.”
This answer demonstrates that the student is looking for an internship (see: I’m a Junior), is interested in Finance and Data Analytics, is actively engaged on campus and has held leadership positions, and has a clear idea of what kind of job the student wants in the future.
Why do you want to work here?
This is a great opportunity to showcase your knowledge about the company. You can mention the specific role, the company culture, the company’s values and mission statement, and any other relevant information you found when you were researching the company. Your answer reaffirms your interest in the company and shows your interviewer that you are very excited to be there.
Why should we hire you?
This is where you can show your value! Up until now, you’ve probably been focused on how you can benefit from working for the company. Now it’s time to show how the company can benefit from hiring you. What unique skills do you bring to the table? If you’ve got a ton of leadership experience or have worked a lot in teams, this is a great time to bring that up. If you are really passionate about the work that the company is doing or you are highly self-motivated (back this up with examples obviously), you should mention that here.
What are your 3 greatest strengths?
For most people, it’s easy to talk about strengths. Most people know what they do well and like bragging about themselves. If you’re not sure what to talk about, take a few online career assessment quizzes such as StrengthsQuest or CareerFinder. The quizzes will identify a few of your strengths and give you an idea of a place to start. Once you’ve identified three strengths, think about examples of times you showcased these strengths. If you a strong leader, talk about a time you had to manage people or lead a group. If you are very motivated/focused, talk about how many activities/jobs/classes you have taken on.
What are your 3 greatest weaknesses?
This may be the hardest question. You are trying to show the employer your best self and you don’t want to scare them off. Many people will tell you to pick a weakness that is actually a strength (ie. I’m a perfectionist, I take on too much and spread myself too thin). Answers like that are cliché and seem a bit dishonest. A better way to handle this question is to identify your true weaknesses and think about how you are working to remedy them. For instance:
I find that a weakness of mine is public speaking or presenting to a group. Because I am very aware of this, this semester I took on a position that requires me to present to a large group on a regular basis. I believe that this will make me more comfortable with speaking in public.
These are just a few examples of questions you will likely be asked in an interview, but of course be prepared for industry-specific questions as well. With any question that is asked, be prepared to not only give an answer but also backup your answer with an example. It is helpful to have in mind 3 to 5 scenarios that showcase a variety of skills and can be used for whatever question is asked.