Employers are looking for a candidate who is…
- Relaxed, confident, and mature.
- A good listener and a strong communicator.
- Engaging and intellectually curious.
- A strong presenter with excellent social skills.
- Able to organize information effectively and to develop a logical framework for analysis.
- Able to determine what is truly relevant.
- Able to quantify a response whenever doing so is appropriate.
- A creative thinker.
- Able to defend a position without being defensive.
(Adapted from Case in Point, Complete Case Interview Preparation by Marc Cosentino)
Common Interview Styles
- Help the interviewer understand how you reacted in an actual situation.
- Require you to respond with a specific example.
- Are based on the concept that future behavior is best predicted by past behavior.
Behavioral questions are likely to begin with phrases like
- Give me an example of a time when you…
- Describe a situation where you…
Typical questions, and the behaviors they address, include the following:
- Communication: We’ve all had occasions when we misinterpreted something that someone told us, like a due date or complicated instructions. Give me an example of a time when this happened to you, why it happened, and how you rectified the situation.
- Conflict management: Describe a time when you disagreed with a supervisor, how the disagreement evolved, and how you resolved it.
- Decision-making: Give me an example of a situation in which you made up your mind too rapidly, and how that conduct affected the outcome of the situation.
- Judgment or ethics: Everyone has to bend or break the rules sometimes. Give me an example when you broke the rules, why you did so, and what came of it.
- Planning/organization: Describe a situation where you assumed responsibility for getting something fairly complicated or important done and how you went about it.
- Persistence: Describe a time when you encountered an obstacle that you could not overcome and how you handled the situation.
- Teamwork: Describe an experience when you were part of a team, the part you played on the team, and how you handled team members who were not contributing in the way you wanted.
- Transferable skills: Describe your strengths (usually three) and specific ways that you have utilized them. Identify a weakness and how you’ve countered or worked around it successfully. (Please note that some interviewers will ask you to identify a second weakness, and thus you need to be prepared to discuss a second limitation — without sounding as if you have practiced the answer.)
Use the STAR technique to help you answer behavioral questions.
For additional practice, consider reviewing this list of general interview questions.
- Are used primarily by management consulting firms and, increasingly, investment banks and tech companies.
- Are designed to test the candidate’s analytical skills and “soft” skills within a realistic business context in a pressured real-time environment.
- For examples of case interview questions, read more in Case in Point by Marc Cosentino