Interview preparation is like Math! Practice, practice and more practice! However, don’t become a robot, your goal should be to communicate the best version of yourself during an interview and make sure you move to the next round (or get the offer if this is the final round).
Interview preparation at college particularly B-Schools is not something you start doing when you get the interview call. Any successful candidate will tell you that they started their interview preparation months before they even knew which companies had shortlisted them. Just like you start preparing for GMAT months before you actually take the exam.
How to Ace an Interview
There are a number of strategies to follow once you have identified which career you will be focusing on. 5 key things to do for effective interview preparation:
Investigate and do your homework
Every function/industry has its own unique requirements about what companies are looking for and exactly how the interviewing process works. For example, consulting firms typically have a case round, and a fit round both as part of round 1 and a final round of interviews. Investment Banking, Product Marketing, Marketing, etc. all have a unique interviewing process. Seniors at your college, relevant clubs and your career center should be able to guide you on what the usual process is. Many organizations also have coffee chats with campus reps from their company who can tell you more about the interviewing process. If the process is not completely clear at your college, usually your career center is a good place to contact for this information.
Gather practice questions and begin practicing
Once you are clear on what the process is, make sure you get access to common interview questions. Good places to get access to practice questions include resources provided by relevant clubs, professional organizations, books, and online resources. Your seniors can also guide you as to which resources they found useful. Once you get to campus, schedule time with your seniors and ask them for interview tips and preparation process guidance if it is not very transparent. Your peers who are interested in the same industry or function also can help you gather access to practice resources.
Form a peer practice group
Having a peer group that you practice with can really help you get feedback during your preparation process. This may seem at first like “the blind leading the blind” but you will be surprised by the quality of feedback your peers can provide. When you get together with peers, make sure you do actual practice and don’t have general conversations about practicing. The real value is in doing mock interviews with them. Also, giving a mock interview can be a great learning experience about the ways to approach a problem and pitfalls to avoid.
Do mock interviews with Seniors, Career Counselors, Industry Experts and Company Representatives
This is one of the most critical aspects of interview preparation. Many colleges organize events, workshops, seminars where industry experts and members of recruiting organizations come on-campus to conduct mock interviews. Make sure you are maximizing these opportunities. However, remember these are evaluative so you should put your best foot forward. Seniors in many colleges make the time to do this for their juniors, so make sure that you have built a network of people whom you can lean on to give you mock interviews. This will go a really long way in helping you perfect your responses to actual job interview questions and be prepared for the D-day. Also, many career centers conduct one-on-one mock interview practice sessions for students; don’t miss out on these.
Relax and Be Yourself
Finally, while practice makes perfect, remember to be who you are in the process, don`t try and emulate anyone’s approach, style of communication or anything else. You are unique and that is what recruiters are looking for, the unique YOU! Enjoy the process of interview preparation because it is one of the biggest learning opportunities that will not only help you transform your understanding of the content required for your chosen career, but also help you present your most articulate version.
Finding the confidence in your stride as you enter the interview room perhaps, rests not just on your talent but also on your commitment to prepare hard in advance.