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
Common Interview Types
Evaluating Job Offers
Deciding whether to accept an offer for a particular job or to choose between different offers can be an exciting and difficult process. Although there is no universal set of criteria to apply when determining whether to accept an offer, we have listed seven key factors that people often consider when evaluating an offer.
1. Job Content: Consider whether you are interested in the mission of the organization and its products or services; whether you will find the work creative and challenging; whether the position leverages your expertise and allows you to make an impact; and whether the position will allow you to develop professionally and help you meet your long-term goals.
2. Your Supervisor: Consider whether there is good chemistry between you and your prospective supervisor (while understanding that supervisors and roles change rapidly in many organizations).
- Will your supervisor be a good mentor?
- Is your supervisor a self-confident person who will be genuinely interested in your success or will your supervisor be threatened by you?
- Do you feel comfortable with your supervisor’s management style?
- Do you feel your supervisor and your role are supported by upper management?
3. Your Colleagues: Consider the fact that your work environment will largely be shaped by the people with whom you work. Before accepting a position, try to meet with some of the people with whom you will be working day to day.
- Were they professional? Team players?
- Are they people with whom you would enjoy working?
4. Salary and Benefits: Research comparative salaries (see resources below) to determine whether the amount offered is appropriate for the level of professional experience and location.
- Based on your research, is the salary at market level?
- What is the potential for growth in your salary?
- Are you being offered a bonus (signing or performance-based)? Does your offer include stock or other options? Could these be negotiated?
- Are there perks (i.e. international travel, professional conferences, association memberships, on-site fitness, and childcare facilities)?
5. Lifestyle Considerations: Consider how the demands of the position fit with your overall lifestyle.
- Can you generally achieve a comfortable balance between work and the rest of your life?
- How much travel will be required?
- Does the organization promote flexibility in the workplace? Is there an opportunity to work remotely? What are the commuting requirements?
6. Organizational Values/Culture: Take note of the culture of the organization, especially when interviewing on site, and consider whether the culture meshes well with your personality and values.
- Is the organization rigid or flexible? Formal or casual?
- Will the role allow you the independence you desire?
- Is it bottom-line oriented? People oriented? Mission oriented?
7. Location: Consider the physical logistics of working at this organization.
- Is the job based in a desirable place to live?
- Is the physical location isolated, or are there conveniences nearby?
- How long is the commute? Is public transportation or parking available?
Information adapted from Fletcher School/Tufts University “Evaluating Job Offers and Negotiating Salary” (2013).
Approaching and handling the discussion about salary can be difficult and uncomfortable. Consider using these tips to aid you in negotiating your salary.
Hire an Ole!
Want to help other Oles find a great job or career? Let us know if you have opportunities, and we will spread the word!
Visit the St. Olaf campus in the fall or spring to host an information session or to hold in-person interviews with students for an internship, research opportunity, or job with your organization.
Post a Job, internship or Research Opportunity
Advertise a job, internship, or research opportunity on Handshake, St. Olaf’s online career platform. Current students and recent alumni can view the posting and apply directly.
Participate in a Career Education Program through the Piper Center
Serve as a speaker, panelist, or networking participant, and assist current students and alumni in their career exploration and job search.
Career Exploration and Alumni Connections
Attend a networking event to connect with current students and recent alumni, and share your career and vocational journey. Students report that meeting with and learning from alumni is a deeply valuable and meaningful experience. (If you enjoy speaking to groups, consider serving as a “pop-up” speaker and give a two-minute talk about how your education at St. Olaf prepared you for your current work.)
The Piper Center’s Connections Program
The Piper Center takes groups of 10-25 students to 3-5 major cities in the U.S. every year. Cities include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Madison, New York City, Portland, Rochester, MN, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.
Provide a walking tour of your city to orient students considering relocation after graduation; host a group of students at your place of employment; or speak on a panel to share your vocational insight with students.
Contact Associate Director of Alumni and Parent Engagement Kris Estenson at email@example.com for more information.
The Quo Vadis Sophomore Retreat
Share your vocational journey with 100 sophomores during a reflective afternoon panel at Camp Ihduhapi in Loretto, MN.
Contact Associate Director of Career Development, Data, and Operations Nate Jacobi at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The Ole Cup
Participate as a judge or mentor for entrepreneurial-minded students participating in this on-campus business pitch competition. Consider offering mentoring to the student winners or pro bono services in the following areas: accounting & finance, fundraising & investing, legal services, marketing & social media, payroll & human resources, and web & technology.