Tag: interviews

As a career advisor at Olin, I do a lot—A LOT—of case interview prep with students—sometimes up to four cases a day. They can be exhausting for me, so I can only imagine how exhausting the practice is for the student. It is stressful, energy-sapping, and sometimes, depending on how it goes, defeating and demoralizing.

Case interviews are the standard with the top consulting firms. Many experts say that a student should practice up to 100 cases in preparation for the recruiting season. That is a tremendous investment in time and focus. It can be tiring. So what should a student do when they find themselves facing interview fatigue? There are a few options to help pull yourself out of the doldrums, refocus, and find that curiosity for solving business problems that initially fueled your desire to be a consultant. I jotted down five—you may have others that work for you:

Take a break

There is nothing wrong with skipping a few days of case practice. Put the pencil down and turn off the part of your brain that is evaluating every situation you face with Porter’s Five Forces Model or some other consulting framework.

Read and absorb

Now could be a good time to read about how real business issues were tackled. Pick up your favorite business journal—HBR, The Strategic Management Journal, The Economist—and see how the issues were approached, what solutions were discovered, what risks were mitigated. All of this information is fodder for your case interviews.

Celebrate your successes

Most students I know have a binder full of cases and notes from their practice sessions. Take some time to review those cases you did really well on and isolate why you did so well. See how you might capitalize on those strengths going forward. Remind yourself how good you really can be at solving issues.

Don’t forget behavioral question practice

I have seen a few students focus solely on case interview questions and heavy mathematical problem-solving only to get tripped up in an interview by the dreaded “What would be your biggest weakness?” question. Use this time to review your individual stories.

Maintain your network

You have probably worked hard at building your network—so don’t let it disappear! This is the perfect time to connect and update people in your support team. Ask what they are working on or what might be happening in their companies. It is a great way to fuel your interests and curiosity again.

The bottom line to all of this: find a way to get your mojo back. You will need it to get across the finish line and land that perfect consulting job you have been working so hard to get.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse. In addition to founding LMHAdvisors, Lisa Hebert serves as a Weston Career Center Career Advisor, specializing in supply chain, consulting, and advising Olin’s veteran student population.

Sally Pinckard of the Weston Career Center

Congratulations! You just accepted an invitation to interview with your dream firm. All the company research, resume polishing and networking at Meet the Firms, at information sessions and with your network, has paid off. What are the next steps to ensure you are ready to conduct a successful interview? Sally Pinckard, the Associate Director of Career Education at Olin’s Weston Career Center, provides this advice to ace the job interview:

Learn everything you can about the company

Both parties are looking for the best fit. Learn as much as you can about the company, culture, and specific process, so you are ready to demonstrate that you are the candidate who best fits what they are looking for. Along with your research, one of the best ways to learn about what to expect in the interview is to connect with alumni in the firm. If there are alumni connections, ask for advice and insight into the interview process. Talking with recent hires at information sessions and workshops, using LinkedIn’s advance search process to find Olin and WashU alumni in the company you will be interviewing with, and asking for insights from fellow students in the student groups where you are a member are all great ways to connect with alumni for guidance. Most are more than willing to help.

Prepare for the type of job interview the recruiter will conduct

Include this in your company research. Most interviews will fall into these categories: behavioral, technical, and case interviews. Some will be conducted face to face, but many first round interviews will be conducted over the phone phone or on Skype. For detailed information on how to prepare for these interviews, see pages 41 and 42 in the WCC Career Guide. Also be sure to check out the Weston Career Center’s Behavioral Interview Questions Guide and Functional/Technical Questions Guide.

First impressions count. Practice your interviewing skills

It’s always important to present your best self. The impressions you leave during the interview (and after!) should be no accident. Practice your answer to, “Walk me through your resume” and other interview questions in a mock interview with a Weston Career Center advisor. Prepare well-informed, inquisitive, and articulate questions for the interviewer during and at the end of the interview. Make sure they are questions for which the answers can only come from a person who has worked in the company (and not something you can find quickly on the company’s website). Check the apparel you plan to wear to the interview to make sure your clothes are clean and in good shape.

Follow up after the job interview

Be prepared so that you can write a thank you note shortly after the interview is complete. Recruiters tell us repeatedly that they are surprised that more students don’t send thank you letters after an interview. Therefore, the letters they do receive stand out, especially well written notes. (AND, recruiters often comment on how impressed they are when the notes are hand written the old fashioned way.) Why? In addition to being a polite way to acknowledge the time spent with you, thank you letters are another opportunity to sell yourself. Have professional stationary on hand so that you can write your thank you note in a timely manner, which is usually within 24 hours of the interview. By writing both an email and hand written thank you, you are signaling your high level of interest in them because you took the time to express your thanks in writing. For more information on the follow up process and thank you notes, see page 45 in the WCC Career Guide.

Sally Pinckard has held positions in merchandising, retail management, and human resources for May Department Stores, now Macy’s. Sally teaches MGT250A, Building Your Career Foundation, and is a certified business etiquette instructor. 

The rise in popularity of social media (i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) within the workplace has created a new set of “rules of engagement” for how to conduct oneself in a professional manner.  Specifically, how to present yourself professionally using digital tools.

Avoiding common mistakes is vital to building trust and useful connections within the social media platform.  For example:

1.  Emails – be crystal clear when writing an email and be sure not to criticize of deliver bad news in such an impersonal manner.  Pick up the phone or meet face-to-face, it makes a better impression.  Don’t copy others unless they really need to read it. And more importantly, be sure to respond in a timely manner, let’s say 24 hours.

2.  Mobile Devices – turn your smartphone off during meetings and stow the phone out of sight during meetings. Constantly checking and texting tells others you are focused somewhere else and not on the meeting or presentation.  It is also very distracting to others in the meeting, too.

3.  Video Conference or Skype – be sure to test all connections and know your technology prior to scheduling a conference call or Skype conversation.  A practice run allows you to troubleshoot issues without wasting others’ time.  Remember to be considerate of the other person when scheduling an international call, keep their local time in mind.

4. Twitter – it’s a good idea to listen and learn about people you are following and how tweets are used in your business setting.  You can become a valued Twitter contributor when you add value to a conversation.  Tweet out information your followers can use, not irrelevant facts.  This is your chance to become an “online expert”.

Social media and technology have changed the way we communicate and in the workplace, you can eliminate controversy by learning from your own missteps.  Best advice is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and consider how you are being viewed based on your email response, phone or Skype call, or mobile phone use.