Blog Archive

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Four Tips for your Interview on Campus

Written by Gabrielle Nader
Talent Acquisition Specialist
Blue Bell, PA

I suppose I look somewhat young, especially to college students. I often use that as the excuse as to why candidates continually mess up a perfectly good interview by saying something completely inappropriate. Year after year I find myself wondering, “What were they thinking?” Coming from someone who conducts a significant number of interviews each year, I wanted to share some important interview reminders with you. These may seem like common sense, but you would be amazed how often candidates forget these important tips.

1. Know who you are interviewing with. It sounds simple, I know. Interviewers know you are interviewing with multiple firms in a relatively short period of time, but that doesn’t excuse the example I am about to share with you. I once had a candidate tell me how badly he wanted to work at [a specific Big Four firm], why we are such a great firm and why he sees himself succeeding in our type of environment. I continually, casually mentioned McGladrey throughout our meeting, but it just wasn’t sinking in. Finally, I stopped him and said, “You have mentioned this Big Four firm multiple times throughout this interview, but I am from McGladrey.” Before I could say anything more, the candidate turned bright red, was extremely apologetic and explained his interview with the other firm was immediately following our meeting. An invitation to continue the interview process was obviously not extended to this candidate.

2. Maintain a level of professionalism. We do encourage candidates to relax and be themselves in their meetings with us, but to a certain extent. Using slang phrases, curse words and speaking to interviewers as you would speak to your friends is not the way to go. I have had multiple candidates use words or phrases (e.g. “sucks” or “boozing with friends”) that should never be mentioned in an interview. Although memorable, this doesn’t lead to standing out from your peers in a good way.

3. Learn to listen. During an interview, nerves sometimes take over, but I can’t tell you how many times I have asked a question and the candidate answers a completely different question. Listen completely to what your interviewer is asking before you begin to formulate an answer. It’s ok to listen to the question and pause while thinking of your answer before responding. Oh, and another important thing, do not interrupt your interviewer. I was just conducting some on campus interviews this spring, and one candidate wouldn’t let me speak or ask any questions beyond me asking the first question. After I asked the first question, he responded and continued talking for twenty-five minutes. I tried speaking and was continually interrupted. The interview should be a give-and-take. One person should not be doing all the talking.

4. Always have questions for your interviewer. Typically during an in-office interview day, a candidate is meeting multiple professionals (this includes partners through staff and Human Resources). One of the worst things you can do is tell your interviewer you don’t have any questions.  It shows you have no interest in the firm and you haven’t done your research. I recently asked a candidate if she had any questions. Her response, “I didn’t have any time to research the firm, ya know? Tell me what I should know about your company.” Um, no, I don’t know. I don’t know how you knew about this interview for weeks and didn’t have ten minutes to go to our website to gather some information on the firm. Knowing about the firm and its recent events leads to the ability to ask intelligent questions and also answer questions intelligently.

Just remember, the interviewer is not your friend, no matter how young he or she may look to you. Be professional, be prepared and don’t treat your interview as casual conversation with a friend!

Check out McGladrey's University Candidate Career Site.

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