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January 15, 2014

Recruiting Advice from Second-Year Rockstars

By Class of 2014  |  january, 2014, Issue 1

Name: Jordan Mendel

Industry: Investment Banking

Internship: Citigroup 

What did you typically do right before an interview?

Turn on my iPod for a few minutes to clear my head, usually Swedish House Mafia or Linkin Park. I tried to attend as many classes as possible during interviews so I would usually head up to the winter garden about 15 minutes before my designated start time.

What was something unexpected that you came across during an interview?

I walked into one of my interviews, on the last day of first rounds, to find a female managing director sitting there with no notes or other materials. Her first and only question to me was "what would you like to talk about for the next half hour?"

What did you never do in an interview that you wish you would have done?

Walk out in the middle. One of my interviews, at the end of the day, was going horribly, and I had to listen to a senior MD berate me for 10 minutes about a minor mistake I made on a case study in early October before I had learned anything about the technical side of banking. It was a huge waste of time and just increased my stress load.

What's the weirdest interview question you were asked?

I was able to somehow avoid a lot of the classic strange existential questions that cause nightmares in interviews, but at one point a conversation did turn to what my favorite current tv show was. I ended up catching the overworked associates up on what had happened in the last two seasons of "How I Met Your Mother" for ten minutes.

What should you never do in a banking interview?

Tell the interviewer that you are also recruiting for consulting. Seriously. Never do this.

What's your weapon of choice?

Coffee, black, usually about 5 to 6 cups a day. Not only are you exhausted the entire week but I liked to be a bit jittery to the point of minor paranoia to make sure I didn't miss any details of any questions and was fully attuned to the flow of the room.

General advice?

Be yourself. It's easy to say but harder to do. If a firm does not like the person that you are naturally, you're probably not going to have a good experience there anyway.

Name: Miriam Owens

Industry: Consulting

Internship: McKinsey

What did you typically do right before an interview?

The night before, I laid out my clothes and made sure my kitchen had the fixings for a great breakfast all ready to go. I also made sure my bag was packed with: 1) A folio including several copies of my resume and plenty (around 30 sheets) of blank white paper for cases, 2) a nice notebook for taking notes during the "Do you have any questions for me?" section (with a few reminders of what questions I did have written down so I didn't blank), 3) plenty of pencils and pens and 4) small, healthy snack. Once all of that was done, I made myself a nice whiskey-based cocktail and relaxed. You have done all you can at this point.

What was something unexpected that you came across during an interview?

In second rounds or power rounds, anything goes, especially if you're with a Partner. One of my interviewers, an Associate Principal, made up a case on the spot. If something crazy happens, just remain calm and demonstrate a good attitude - it goes a long way if the interviewer feels at ease around you.

What did you never do in an interview that you wish you would have done?

By the time I got to my last McKinsey interview in the final round, I had convinced myself I hadn't gotten the offer, so my emotional and mental energy were flagging more than they could have been. Things worked out well in the end, but I might have saved myself some stress if I had just not made up my mind for myself so early. You never know until you get the call!

What's the weirdest interview question you were asked?

Honestly, nothing too crazy or out of the blue, at least not so much that I remember it now. Everything was pretty predictable.

What should you never do in a consulting interview?

Never pretend that you know something when you don't, especially during a case. If an acronym or word comes up that you don't know, or you aren't sure how a particular industry works, always ask, starting with what you think the answer is. Even if your interviewer tells you that you are totally off-base, you demonstrated honesty and initiative, and that is much better than getting halfway through a case and then admitting you have no idea what you're talking about.

What's your weapon of choice?

Clothes that made me feel good-looking, professional, and comfortable majorly helped my confidence level. Around this time last year, I made a great investment in a long, high-quality formal wool coat - I found it easier to feel professional wearing that than walking into the office for that clutch final-round interview in a puffy North Face.

General advice?

In advance, schedule something relaxing to do the night after all of your interviews. You'll be feeling nervous, and it's better to have something to take your mind off your nerves if you're out at a fun dinner with a (preferably non-Boothie) friend or significant other.

Name: Jessica Leginski

Industry: Energy

Internship: ExxonMobil

What did you typically do right before an interview?

I'd rehearse in my head the first things I was going to say because a) the first impression is key, and b) the initial few minutes are when I'm nervous and most likely to stumble and be awkward, so rehearsing an interesting greeting and the "tell me about yourself" response gives me more confidence. Once past the first few minutes I get a sense for the interviewer's personality and it flows more naturally.

What was something unexpected that you came across during an interview?

I didn't expect to be probed for multiple levels of detail when giving "tell me about a time" answers. I think it's the interviewer's way of getting you past the stuff you've likely rehearsed to get a more realistic sample of how you converse and think on your feet.

What did you never do in an interview that you wish you would have done?

I don't have a good answer for this so I'll instead use the opportunity to mention something I think the interviewer wishes more people would do... Empathize with them. They have back-to-back interviews all day and are not having fun. When you first get in, ask if they need to break for a beverage or something and mention you don't mind waiting.

What's the weirdest interview question you were asked?

"Tell me about something you gave up on."

What should you never do in an interview in the energy industry?

Avoid being overly opinionated on climate change, environmental issues, or other topics on which people have differing views. You are entitled to your opinion, but an interview is not the place to debate it as it could create unnecessary friction with your interviewer.

What's your weapon of choice?

When they ask how tall I am, I say 5'12". Gets 'em every time.

General advice?

Interviewers assume you know your stuff since you got into Booth. Without proving them wrong, just be genuine, friendly, and someone they'd want to spend time with.

Name: Tracey Niederhelman

Industry: General Management/Corporate Finance

Internship: PepsiCo 

What did you typically do right before an interview?

Right before an interview I like to do anything I can to calm down and relax. This usually involves listening to music. I also like to give myself silent words of encouragement to boost my confidence and to get my adrenaline pumping.

What was something unexpected that you came across during an interview?

I was interviewing for a company that, at the time, wasn't performing too well. I was asked, "If you were told today that you are the new CEO of our company, what would you do?". I tried to think quickly on my feet, but found it hard to answer tactfully and honestly about the current state of the company while also not offending my interviewer.

What did you never do in an interview that you wish you would have done?

I wish I would have closed some of my best interviews by restating my desire to work at the company I was interviewing with to futher reinforce my passion for the industry and/or company.

What's the weirdest interview question you were asked?

I was once asked why I didn't want to return to the healthcare industry (where I had previously worked), and although I gave an honest answer, my interviewer decided to tell me that I was wrong and had made a bad decision. I wasn't really sure what to say to that!

What should you never do in a general management/corporate finance interview?

Avoid showing disdain for numbers and math, especially in case-based questions. Also, do not go into a general management/corporate finance interview without thoroughly researching the firm and the position, as you will likely fall flat on your face.

What's your weapon of choice?

My weapon of choice is preparation. I used to think that I could do minimal preparation and "wing" interviews, and while this may have worked in the past, I realized early on that it wasn't going to work at Booth. I make sure to over-prepare mainly so I feel 100% confident walking into the interview, knowing that there is nothing more I could have done to get ready.

General advice?

Always stay calm and confident. Many general management/corporate finance interviewers seek primarily to find candidates with the right fit for the company regardless of background, so even if you're being asked technical questions you don't feel comfortable with, do not lose your cool and answer to the best of your ability. Also, be sure to smile!

Name: Tina Anderson

Industry: Marketing

Internship: Kraft

What did you typically do right before an interview?

Review my notes, re-look up my interview on LinkedIn to review their background, take deep breaths, and remind myself that interviewers are people, too.

What was something unexpected that you came across during an interview?

One interviewer asked me to describe a project in which I'd had to analyze data. I gave my response and she continued to dig in on my answer, asking which tools I'd used to analyze the data. I wasn't sure how to answer this. Later, I asked her for feedback and she told me she wanted me to describe, step by step, how I'd done the analysis of the dats. This taught me to listen closely to the questions being asked.

What's the weirdest interview question you were asked?

"What can I tell you that would convince you to join our company"! That one really caught me off guard. Obviously it's a weird, softball question that won't happen in every interview, but I had to make sure to give a coherent answer!

What should you never do in a marketing interview?

Never talk about someone hating one of the company's products! In one interview, I was asked to come up with an activation strategy for an oatmeal product that appealed to non-traditional oatmeal consumers. I started off by saying, "Well, I'd target this brand toward people who hate oatmeal!" I said this because I personally don't eat oatmeal veery often, but I love this product and buy it regularly. That is not what came across in my answer!

What's your weapon of choice?

Authenticity. A well thought-out, authentic answer will beat a bullshit answer (no matter how eloquent) every time. Interviewers are just people, many of whom where once in your shoes and had to make very similar decisions as you will.

General advice?

Do your homework. You can't know everything about a company, but know 3-4 things really well. Marketers, when you're answering case questions, ALWAYS start your answer with the consumer.

Name: Rushan Guan

Industry: Luxury Retail

Internship: Coach

What did you typically do right before an interview?

Do some last minute company research via general interest and industry specific publications (e.g. Women's Wear Daily, NYTimes, Luxury Daily); this way, I know which topics to emphasize or avoid completely.

What was something unexpected that you came across during an interview?

During the interview, I mentioned the current restructuring underway at the company to demonstrate my knowledge of current events, and I was caught off guard when my interviewer proceeded to ask me how I would address the same challenge and revitalize the brand. I didn't thoroughly prepare for the subsequent follow-up questions to my own remarks.

What did you never do in an interview that you wish you would have done?

Not too sure on this one, write hand-written thank you notes?

What's the weirdest interview question you were asked?

Which handbag collection would you describe yourself as?

What should you never do in a retail interview?

Wear competitor products or talk disparagingly about a competitor; but don't go overboard and dress yourself head-to-toe in Theory if you're at a Theory interview either.

What's your weapon of choice?

Talk about the latest industry trends and how the company strategy fits into that trend; surprise the interviewer with my depth of knowledge on the industry.

General advice?

Demonstrate passion and enthusiasm for the company and the brand; develop an in-depth point-of-view on the brand and its products.

Last Updated 1/22/14
Last Updated 1/22/14