The following information assumes you know the
basics of interviewing. The important question is what will give you the
edge over everyone else? Each step in the job search process builds on
the previous step: the interview is a continuation of your resume. The
interview lets the interviewer know if you are as good in person as you
appear on paper. Given that recruiters only interview people they think
can do the job, they are looking for contributors who will fit in with
the company’s culture and people. (“Is this someone I want to be with
for 8 days on the road?”)
At least 50 UT recruiters were
interviewed for “straight from the horse’s mouth” feedback on their
expectations of high caliber students. An effort was made to include
recruiters representing most of the concentrations at UT. The
suggestions that follow are based on their feedback.
What qualities do companies seek
in their new recruits?
It doesn’t take long to discover that recruiters
all appear to seek the same qualities:
Communication skills: proper grammar, ability to
articulate well organized, sophisticated thought processes, and
excellent questions of the interviewer.
Self-confidence (not arrogance) and a positive, friendly
Curiosity, which can signify an intellectual aliveness,
creativity, and an interest in learning.
Focus: why you want this career, company, and industry.
Flexibility: both in ability to change course quickly, and
in mobility (especially outside Texas).
What approach can you take to be most
The first and most important thing to figure out is how to
differentiate you from others. Assume everyone else you are competing
with has similar qualifications to yours or even better. How do you
stand out and why? Know why they should hire you and communicate this.
They won’t figure it out if you can’t. Use the interview as a forum to
convince the interviewer that you’ve already made the match between you
Be focused. Know what you want and why. It’s very
important that the company understands why you specifically want their
company, industry and the job. Remember, it’s a multi-tiered decision
consisting of what you want to do, where and for whom.
Convey enthusiasm and energy. This is done with both
verbal (your voice and choice of descriptive words) and non-verbal
communication (use of hands, leaning forward, facial expressions).
Listen attentively. Make sure you answer the question
asked, not the question you want to answer. React to ideas, not to the
person. Ask for clarification if it’s needed. Keep good eye contact and
good posture: these are prerequisites to good listening (and to
Don’t forget to SMILE. It is amazing how a smile lights up
your face and affects impressions of you.
Research the company and industry. Do more than read the
literature sent here. Conduct periodical searches, run Lexis-Nexis, talk
to people who work there.
Be prepared with questions to ask the recruiter that show
intellectual curiosity and knowledge. If you have done your homework,
you won’t be asking very basic questions. Interviewers enjoy talking
with people who seem like a professional peer.
Prepare for “tell me about yourself”. Definitely make it
conversational. Practice until you are comfortable with your answer.
There are at least three types of interviews in
which you may participate, namely: informational (networking),
search firm, and employment. Within the employment category,
there is the screening interview and the selection
interview. Sometimes there is also a stamp-of-approval or
Be on time. It is bets to give you enough time to allow for a
fifteen-minute stall in traffic or some other possible incident. If you
arrive well ahead of schedule, and it is a company interview, make use
of the time by finding out more about the company. If you haven’t
already seen the company’s annual report (highly recommended if
published), look around the area. There are often copies of annual
reports, industry magazines, product brochures, etc. If there are none,
you might ask the receptionist/secretary if an annual report is
available. Read the President’s letter to shareholders, and scan the
rest for trends, new product announcements, reorganization, etc.
Let your actions reveal a quiet confidence. Be cordial and
friendly with whomever you come in contact. They may be asked for their
reactions to you later by the interviewer.
Initiate the handshake, and make it natural. Don’t sit down ahead
of the interviewer unless invited to do so. Follow the interviewer’s
Try to find out, up front, how much time has been planned for the
interview and the interviewer’s preferred process.
Sit naturally and comfortably, without slouching. Maintain good
eye contact, and lean forward slightly when you want to show increased
interest in a particular topic. Keep your hands free for natural
Remember that non-verbal communication is as important as
verbal. Thoughts and feelings, conveyed non-verbally will have
much to do with the outcome of the interview. A pleasant facial
expression, and voice whose volume, rate, pitch and inflections reflect
confidence, interest and enthusiasm, are sometimes more important than
your discussion of technical abilities which may be already inferred
from your resume.
If a question or comment is not clear, ask for clarification, or
use rephrasing to confirm your understanding before responding directly
to what is asked.
Allow the interviewer to talk. Don’t rush in to fill a void. A
good interviewer may be testing you with silence.
Avoid negative statements, use positive phraseology whenever
Sound like a “team player”. Don’t knock your previous company or
If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. If your
answer is based on an assumption, state it as such.
Be prepared to discuss accomplishments, skills, strengths, and
areas for improvement as they relate to the position in question.
Watch for both verbal and non-verbal cues of the interviewer’s
desires, including the closing of the interview. Don’t overstay your
welcome in the interest of providing more information.
Ask questions that reveal genuine interest in the
Listen carefully for clues to the kinds of persons preferred by
the prospective employer. If you think you don’t fit, ask more questions
before making your decision.
If you’re asked to take tests, comply. This may be an indication
that you are being given serious consideration as a candidate.
The interviewer who wants references will ask for them. Don’t
volunteer references in advance.
When you sense the interview is drawing to a close, don’t
overstay your welcome. Close with a positive statement that reflects
confidence in the outcome or make an appropriate comment following the
interviewer’s positive statement, inquire into the next step, and thank
the interviewer while shaking hands. If there isn’t sufficient interest
to warrant going forward, be gracious and, depending, upon the
circumstances, try to get information that will assist you in your
Thank the receptionist and the secretary for their courtesies.
Write a “Thank You” letter. Use specific references to your
conversation during the interview, pointing out the skills and
experience you have that ensure your success in the position. Affirm
your interest in the position, the company, and in taking the next step,
if you’re still interested. If not, use the letter in an attempt to
start a networking relationship.
Evaluate the interview. How well did you handle it? What did you
learn? What were the results? Use the knowledge gained in preparing for
your next interview.
If referred by a search firm, ask the consultant for feedback
from the prospective employer. Do not go “around” the search firm unless
you’re certain such action will not be frowned upon.
PREPARING FOR AN EMPLOYMENT INTERVIEW
Get as much advance information as possible – the company’s
products, and / or services, size, history, ownership, management
personnel, philosophy/culture, marketing policies, market position,
financials, etc. This information can be obtained from the company’s
annual report. Also, talking to other people who are familiar with the
company can be particularly helpful, whether that be a current or former
employee or an outside source who has worked with the company.
Consultants, attorneys and accountants are often good sources of
information because they have a large number and variety of clients.
Get the name and title of the person(s) with whom you will be
interviewing. Anything else you can find out about him/her may prove
valuable, whether the interview is a screening, selection or follow-up
interview. Try to find out how long he/she has been with the company,
how long in the current position, the person’s background, degree of
influence in the hiring process, etc.
You will be told where the interview will be held, but be sure to
ask the best way to get there and how long it might take.
Dress appropriately. It is best to dress on the conservative
side. Men: dark-colored suit and tie with white or light blue dress
shirt. Women: dress or suit, and appropriate accessories. The idea is to
create a professional appearance. Presenting the right image is
important in creating an overall positive first impression.
Take copies of your resume along just in case you are asked for
IN THE INTERVIEW, YOU MAY BE ASKED
How would you answer each of the following
questions? Spend sometime in preparing the best possible answers to
these questions. Think through and “script” out your answers. Planning
ahead eliminates the chance of your being caught off guard, and
therefore not delivering the type of answer you otherwise would. Ask for
help from others if you have any doubts as to the quality of your
Note that most of the questions are open-ended,
that is, they cannot be answered with a simple word or two. Answers to
these kinds of questions are more revealing and give you an opportunity
to market yourself during the interview, if you are prepared!
Tell me about yourself.
How do you keep abreast of current events?
How do you relieve everyday tensions?
Have you ever failed at anything? Would you care to share an
experience with me?
What have been the three most important decisions of your life?
Do you have any regrets? Why?
Could you compare your team player versus
entrepreneurial spirit for me?
What motivates you?
How important is money to you?
How did you come to know about our company?
What do you know about this company? What interests you the most?
Tell me about your current employment? Why are you leaving?
Why did you leave your last job?
What kind of success have you had in your job search?
How did you obtain your last position?
What were your responsibilities in your last job?
What did you like most/least about the job?
What are some of the problems you have encountered? Which one
frustrated you the most? What did you do about it?
What did you think of your boss? What did you like most/least
What kind of a boss do you prefer?
Tell me about the best/worst supervisor you have ever had.
How has your career growth been representative of your ability?
What are your short/long-term goals? How will you benefit by
achieving them? What plans have you made to achieve them?
What could you improve upon to really help your career?
Tell me about a few of your accomplishments.
What are your greatest strengths/skills? How have you applied
them to the job?
Have you ever made any suggestions to top management?
What kind of performance appraisals have you had?
Has your work ever been criticized?
Have you ever been criticized for the way you relate to others?
Is there any particular personality type you enjoy working with
more than others?
How might your subordinates describe you?
What do you look for in a job?
What do you consider to be the ideal working environment?
What five adjectives would you use to describe yourself?
When was your last salary increase?
What are you looking for in a salary?
What did you expect to be earning five years from now?
Have you ever supervised? What did you like most/least about it?
Have you ever fired anyone? What were the circumstances?
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Why are you interested in this particular job?
If we were to hire you, how long would you stay?
What other opportunities are you considering?
If we were to hire you, how long would it take for you to make a
If this job is offered to you, in what areas will you seek to
improve yourself to be more effective?
Is there anything you particularly liked or disliked about your
If you were to do it again, what would you do differently?
Is there anything you want from your next job that you didn’t get
in your last job?
What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
What are the most important rewards you expect in your business
What do you think you can do for us that someone else can’t do
just as well?
What qualities should a successful manager possess?
What subjects in school did you like most/least? Why?
Describe the ideal job for you.
Are you willing to relocate? Travel?
Do you have any geographical preferences?
How would you compare this job to others you’re looking at?
What do you anticipate liking/disliking about the job we are
What else do you think I should know about you?
What would you like to know about our company?
PROBABLY WANT TO KNOW / ASK …
How long has the position been open?
Why is the position open?
How many persons have held the position in, say, the last ten
How long was the last person in this position?
What has become of the person who previously held the position?
Is he/she still with the company? Is it possible to talk with him/her?
Could you tell me a little about the person who last held the
How many subordinated, if any, report to the position?
How long have these subordinates been in their positions?
To whom does the position report?
How long has the person been in that position?
Who else reports to the same person?
How will my performance be evaluated? How often?
What promotional opportunities will be available to me, assuring
I do an exceptional job?
How long has the current organization setup been in place?
Was anyone within the organization considered for this position?
What was the outcome?
How rapidly has the company grown in the past?
What are the company’s objectives for the next year? … for the
next five years?
How does the company plan to attain those objectives?
What resources will be utilized to attain these objectives?
Are there plans to expand or diversify current product lines or
Are there plans to increase market penetration? How? Where?
Did you foresee any consolidating of product lines or services?
How well is the company capitalized?
What, in your estimation, are the odds of the company being
What is the ration of short-term to long-term debt?
What is your timetable for filling the position?
Have I told you everything you need to know about my background?
Do you have any concerns?
What is the next step?
Whom would I see next? When? What is his/her title?
BRIEF LIST OF 10
TACTICS FOR THE INTERVIEW
Know why you came back to school and what it will do for you.
Research the company – know who they are and what they are about.
Dress appropriately, shake their hand, and make eye contact.
Interviewer’s opinions are being formed within the first three minutes
(often before you begin speaking)!!!
Be animated: use voice inflection, gestures, and facial animation
to reinforce your points.
Have clear, concise examples of leadership, teamwork, a time you
failed, creativity, initiative. Structure all your answers to address
SITUATION à ACTION
Assess your audience:
Have they been rushing throughout the day? Are they
Are they poised? How are they dressed – sitting?
How organized are they? Are they writing this stuff down
or just listening?
Are questions specific and abrupt, or are they vague and
open-ended – begging for you to take over?
You can use these
clues for judging whether to pick up the pace, slow down, be jovial, or
get down to business.
When asked vague questions, use them to frame your experience and
knowledge in best light or to talk about things they haven’t
specifically asked about.
The stranger the question, the more out-of-the-blue it seems, the
more significant it is. Interviewers spend time thinking about what
special questions they’ll ask to get to the core of a candidate. Be
thoughtful when you respond to these.
Tell them if you are very interested in the opportunity, ask for
a business card (so you can write thank you note) and ask what steps are
Go home and practice for the next interview. Some people write
down the questions they were asked to prompt them for the next time.
It’s a bull market and there is always another interview.
This page contains feedback Procter & Gamble gave
first year students from the classes of 1999 and 2000.
Big difference in levels of preparedness and quality of
It’s easy to see who’s done their grid and PRACTICED OUT LOUD!
These are the people who will get the jobs!
Most people solid on eye contact, confidence, enthusiasm, general
intelligence. Those who stood out had all this AND were able to clearly,
succinctly articulate their accomplishments.
Need to focus on Situation/Action/Result framework. Many people
spent too much time on the Situation part and not enough on the
Action/Result part. Remember to BRIEFLY set up your story and then
quickly move to the part that says what YOU did.
Note: be wary of
vague questions about what you did in various jobs. Don’t fall into the
trap of giving job descriptions. Take the opportunity to talk about the
results you generated in the position.
Remember, focus on “I” not “WE”.
Opening question: need to have a 2 – 3 minute canned response
Why you majored in whatever you majored in, and why you
moved to each job.
Why you came back to graduate school and why Texas.
Why you are PASSIONATE about the job you are interviewing
Show a clear, logical path that lead you here.
Characteristics of a good leader: remember, this is not
“characteristics of a good manager.” For example, “coordinating” and
“facilitating” are not words that describe leadership. Think like a CEO
to answer this. Also, have your answer ready: you WILL get this question
Some of you have great stories that aren’t in your resumes. It’s
not always appropriate, but try to get those stories on your resumes.
According to the P&G folks, everybody and their dog is “chair of
the Central Challenge!” With all due respect to item #5 above, be
careful what you take credit for, especially if your classmates are all
on the same project. Note: if many of your classmates are working on the
same project you’re describing, you can bet that, by the time you get to
the interview, the interviewer has already heard the background on the
project too many times. Don’t bore him/her with yet another description
– give specifics on your role in the project. You’ll more
interesting and more credible.
Need GOOD AND BAD examples of packaged-goods products! Have
examples ready and be able too discuss WHY you think they do a good (or
bad) job marketing products.
Rest assured that, even if some of your classmates aren’t
preparing for these interviews, you competition at Michigan,
Northwestern, et al definitely are. You will be rewarded for your
preparation, and you will be screwed if you don’t prepare.
There are several different types of interviews
and all kinds of interviewers. Some interviews are very structured with
a set list of questions the interviewer asks each candidate; others are
very informal, and there is a whole range in-between. What follows is a
list of questions you may be asked and questions that you can ask the
interviewer. Remember, an interview is a conversation, and both sides
ask questions. These questions are to help you be more prepared for your
interviews. When preparing, present your responses in a positive light.
TYPICAL QUESTIONS YOU MAY BE ASKED
Tell me about yourself.
Why did you come back for an MBA? What do you want out of the
Why did you choose UT? What are UT’s strengths and weaknesses for
Why do you want this area (accounting, finance, marketing,
Why this company?
Why this job?
What skills do you bring to the job?
What qualities do you think are important for this job?
Why should we hire you over someone else?
What are some of your weaknesses? (Be prepared to discuss 2)
What do you do in your spare time? (Don’t answer that you have no
What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Give me some examples of times you’ve felt it necessary to break
What are your goals for the next 5 years?
Tell me about your job at company X.
What were your
What was your most significant
Why did you leave this job?
On project X, how much money,
sales, business, new clients, etc. did you generate?
On project Y, how much money,
time, work hours, etc. did you save?
If I called your supervisor at
this job, how would s/he describe you?
Explain a project where you did the analysis from beginning to
What was the most difficult decision you ever had to make?
What was your worst decision – one you would take back? Why?
What kinds of decisions are most difficult for you? Why?
Give an example of the last time you went against the pack on a
Give two examples of how you’ve demonstrated the following:
Tell me about the most complex formal presentation you ever made.
Why was it complex? How did you go about presenting it? How did it turn
Tell me about one of your toughest persuasive experiences.
Tell me about when you set your sights on a high, demanding goals
and achieved it.
Imagine we are reviewing your performance at our firm after
working with us for 6 months or a year. What do you think our criticism
of you would be?
Take me through your last job: Identify the issues from an
organizational or competitive standpoint.
Give me some examples of doing more than is required in a course
or a job.
Few people get along with everyone. How do you handle conflict?
How do you handle working with someone you dislike? Give some examples.
The questions above are not
specific to any particular concentration or job. It is incumbent on you
to know the industry, company and job so that you can both respond to
and ask relevant questions. Some interviewers ask case related
questions. Sometimes you’re given time to prepare a case, other times
you’re asked to think on your own feet. Preparation for this is best
done through student organizations with the assistance of professors
and/or students who have held such jobs.
PURPOSE / DEFINITION
both verbally and non-verbally a representative picture of yourself as
you want to be seen by others.
A mutual exchange
of information designed to enable the interviewee and interviewer to
make an informed career/hiring decision.
between two interested parties pursuing the same goal – appropriate
A dialogue in
which the buyer (employer) and seller (potential employee) actively
market their products (each other).
INTERVIEW PREPARATION – WHAT TO DO BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
is essential for a successful interview. You are the product and the
more you know about yourself (product knowledge), the more convincing
you will be in the interview.
Do not simply try
to tell the employer what you think they want to hear, but rather what
you want to say. The best way to at in an interview is not to act at
all. BE YOURSELF.
Having to convey
the essence of yourself to someone who has never met you provides you
with an excellent opportunity to project a positive image. Remember that
you never have a second chance to make a good first impression.
interview, you will want to identify and assess your values, interests,
skills, and personality traits, particularly with respect to the job for
which you are applying. Be prepared to cite specific examples that
highlight your marketable qualities.
Once you have
determined who you are, why you are applying for this job, and where you
are on your career path, you will need to communicate this knowledge
effectively to the interviewer.
communication skills are critical to support your verbal communication
Although you have
something worth saying to the interviewer, it may not be heard if you do
not reinforce it non-verbally with the aforementioned. Practice your
non-verbal communication skills by using tape recorders (voice
inflection), mirrors (eye contact, facial animation), and video-tapes
(gestures, body language).
interviewer’s opinion is being formulated within the first three minutes
(typically before you begin speaking), it is imperative that your
non-verbal communication skills be at their peak.
There is often no
one right answer to the questions that will be asked of you. It is,
therefore, critically important for you to convey how you think, how you
decide, how you act and react rather than to reiterate a memorized
answer. Your uniqueness is your marketable commodity, not your sameness
to other candidates. Your oral communication skills should convey the
essence of you in a logical, reasonable, sequential fashion, and be
Once you have
obtained “self knowledge”, you need to obtain knowledge of the industry,
employer, and job by reading about the industry, speaking with people
doing what you want to do, or by attending company sponsored functions.
Because you know yourself, you will be better equipped to apply the
company information, which is compatible with you.
available to you to research potential employers include:
services office library
Being equipped with both
self-knowledge and employer knowledge enables you to use the interview
as a forum in which to convince the interviewer that you have already
made the match between you and the employer. In doing so, you are
putting the interviewer in a position of merely having to agree with you
rather than to have to make your career decision.
THE PRELIMINARY / PRESCREENING INTERVIEW
interview usually lasts about 30 to 45 minutes and is designed to
determine a broad alignment between you and the firm particularly with
respect to personality and values. Remember your qualifications are what
got you the interview – now the interviewer wants to get to know you
personally. Let the interviewer control the flow, while you control the
will meet you, greet you, and escort you to the interviewing room. The
interviewer will begin the interview by trying to put out at ease with
question about your hobbies, campus, etc. Do not try to rush things.
Take advantage of this time to begin to assess the interviewer, the
company, the path you are going to take, etc.
interviewer will ask more in-depth, probing, or open-ended questions
designed to allow you to expand on your past background, more so than
the information contained in your resume. A sample list of questions
commonly asked in a preliminary interview has been provided to you. Look
for similarities in these questions, such as the reason that you chose
to attend a particular college may be indicative of the criteria used in
your selection of this particular employee.
interviewer’s questions to you, you will be given an opportunity to ask
your questions of them. During this phase, you will want to continue to
dominate the interview by asking questions that sell you – again, market
your unique differences. Tailor and individualize your questions. Select
those questions that provide you with the information you require to
make an informal career choice.
questions to the employer, the employer will either close the interview
with the projected response time or ask you to reconcile particular
inconsistencies that you may have created during the interview. The
interviewers slogan is when in doubt on an applicant – decline. The
important point here is to reconcile any inconsistency that you may have
created in order to alleviate that doubt.
interviewer’s cue with respect to closing the interview. Remain
sensitive to the interviewer’s time constraints and work within them.
Immediately following the interview, be certain to follow-up with a
thank you letter which is actually your decision letter to continue on
the interviewing process or not.
Maintain a log or
journal of when the interviewer’s will be contacting you regarding
secondary interviews so that you can follow up should you not hear from
the interviewer within the prescribed time frame and how you thought you
did in the interview – i.e. areas that went well or areas to improve.
Always consider doing mock interviews on video tape with the career
counselors in the Career Services Office.
to five or more interviews lasting approximately one hour each.
Generally, these interviews are conducted by the more senior level
managers in the firm who are concerned not only with your personality,
but also with your technical competencies. The variable is not in the
questions asked but in the multiple personalities assessing your
personality. Therefore, allow your personality to shine through your
answers. These rounds typically consist of line managers interested in
what you can do and high-level managers interested in the future big
picture of where the firm is going.
interviews are typically conducted in the headquarters office or at the
company job site, you will want to clarify:
You will want to
give yourself plenty of time to make all of your appointments on time.
It is customary
and appropriate for the subject of salary to be addressed in the
secondary interview. In order not to shortchange yourself, you should
become familiar with industry averages. After determining the
industry/company salary ranges, determine your individual salary
requirements by reviewing you own financial needs.
It is not unusual
for the secondary interviews to request a list of references to contact
by telephone. Simply have a list of references (listing name, address,
phone number, and employer) typed on 8 ½ by 11 inch quality bond paper
ready to give them. These references are typically 3 – 5 business
references of your professors teaching academic subjects related to your
interview, be aware and remain sensitive to your feelings with respect
to certain answers you have given the interviewer. You can be your most
accurate critic, providing you maintain a steady stream of consciousness
(self-evaluative input throughout the interview).
interviewers non-verbal and verbal cues – do they indicate an active
listening, a genuine interest in what you are saying, or do they
indicate a passive/tuning out of what you are saying?
Log this type of
information immediately following the interview, so that you can begin
to track your behavior trends. Use your input and any employer input to
improve and refine your interviewing techniques to the point that your
behavior, non-verbal communication skills, appearance, responses to
questions (delivery and content) all convey a congruent, positive, and
Career Services Office
technique based on the premise that past performance is an indicator of
example: a description of the situation or task, the applicant’s
actions, and the results of those actions relative to a particular past
Candidate is not
allowed to run a “highlight video”.
looking for specific information.
looking for past actions, and not what the candidate will do, or should
Much of the
interview is focused on the past.
to prepare canned answers to interviewing questions.
candidate to job requirements and not candidate to candidate.
experiences that can show favorable behaviors or actions.
Be able to
describe work experience, difficult situations, and involvement on
campus and group projects.
Show a logical
thinking process by describing the situation or task, the action taken
and the results.
Be specific with
Be able to
describe thoughts and feelings in the example you are giving.
Don’t be afraid to
sort of “brag” about yourself.
Do not generalize
or be theoretical about what you could, will or should do. The
interviewer is looking for past examples of what you did do.
Be prepared for an
interview to last longer than the standard 30 minutes.
Give me an example
of an instance in which you had to get cooperation from a person or a
group of people in order to achieve a goal or accomplish a task?
What is your
procedure for keeping track of items that need your attention? Tell me
about a time when you used that procedure?
situation that required you to accomplish several things at one time.
What did you do?
Have you ever had
to go “the extra mile” to satisfy a customer? Tell me about what you
stressful situation for you. What made it stressful and how did you
On which decisions
have you deliberated the longest? Tell me about them. How did you decide
what to do?
What are some of
the best ideas you tried to sell to a boss or peer? What was your
approach? What was the result?
If you do not have
the behavior that the company deemed necessary for success in that
position, be glad you will find out before you invest your time in a
career that probably is not he one for you. You will most likely be more
successful in a career that utilizes your skills and behaviors best.
The attached “grid” is a framework for organizing
your past accomplishments for discussion in the interview room. While
most commonly associated with P&G, the grid is actually an invaluable
preparation tool for any resume-based interview.
If you prepare with the grid,
you will be able to:
Quickly recall specific accomplishments from your work,
school, or other expenses.
Succinctly relate those accomplishments to your interviewer.
Feel more confident going into interviews, because you will know
you are prepared.
HOW TO USE THE GRID
Across the top of the grid are the
characteristics employers are looking for as they interview you. These
include initiative, leadership, creativity, etc. Under each of these
columns, there is space for numerous examples from work, UT MBA, and
your undergraduate years. Follow these steps to organize your
Think about the accomplishment you are most proud of, and
place them in the appropriate box. For example, if you developed a cure
for cancer in your previous job, that’s probably a good example of
thinking/problem solving. Put it under that column.
The chronological sections along the side (work, MBA, BBA) are
there only to help you organize your thoughts. The goal is to get your
best accomplishments, so if you have 5 from work, 1 from MBA and 1 from
BBA, that’s ok.
What you really need is about a dozen good stories – total.
There’s space for 9 examples under each column, but clearly nobody is
going to have enough quality stories (72!) to fill up the whole grid.
You’ll find that your #1 leadership example can also be used for
initiative, working effectively with others, creativity, overcoming
obstacles, and so on. If it’s your best story, just make sure you
For each example, develop a succinct (non-rambling) way to
articulate what you did. Use the following framework: situation,
action, result. What was the situation or goal you were
presented with? What specific action (s) did YOU (NOT “WE”) take? What
was the result of your action?
Practice saying it! Tell each story to a
mirror/spouse/significant other/friend/neighbor/pet so many times that
you don’t even have to think about the words any more. When the question
comes from the interviewer, you should be able to reel off your example
like a memorized type.
Here’s an example. Let’s say a recruiter asks you for an example of
how you’ve solved a difficult problem. You immediately recall the grid
column for “thinking/problem solving”, and you effortlessly pull out
Situation: I was selected by my company to develop a cure for
cancer within 6 months.
Action: I memorized every biology textbook ever written in just
4 weeks, redesigned modern research techniques, and interviewed a
doctor. In less than 90 days, I was able to crack the code and cure
Result: As a result of my finding, 77 million people around the
world have been cured of cancer, resulting in a 14% increase in
pre-tax earnings for my division.
Note: This story could be tailored to serve as an example of
creativity, leadership, or just about any of the headings along the
top of the grid.
BEYOND THE GRID – ONE
After you’ve used the
grid to identify your key accomplishments in each area, try putting them
on a “cheat sheet” that can be reviewed prior to interviews.
You might structure it like
Nissan Barbie ad
Before the interview, go over
each category in your head, just like you’re studying for a test. Make
sure you can list each accomplishment.
Then, since you’ve said each
example OUT LOUD so many times, once you’re in the interview room and
you select an example, articulating it will be easy!