Interview Preparation and Corresponding with Employers

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Interviews, from those conducted through on-campus recruiting to those over Skype, can be daunting.  Let’s go through some tools for preparation to make sure you’re ready:

When corresponding with employers, courteous, prompt and concise communication is key!  Your emails should be completely error free; they should also be polite and business-like.  Respond to a communication from an employer quickly, and certainly do not allow for more than 24 hours to pass before getting back to them to at least acknowledge receipt of a message.  We are happy to review any emails you’re sending back and forth – email us at as_careers@cornell.edu explaining the situation and with your draft.  We’ll get back to you with comments.  

Once you receive an invitation to interview and decide on a time together, remember that it’s key to understand the industry of wherever you’re interviewing.  Do your research!

Before your interview, use LinkedIn to obtain background information on the person with whom you will be talking. Know his/her exact role in the company – use this information to develop more advanced understanding of their work, as well as questions to ask at the end. The hobbies/interests sections of their profile can also give you ways to connect during the interview.

It is crucial that you have knowledge of the organization, the position and how your skills match up before participating in an interview. Employers want to know not only that you can do the job, but that you are interested in the job and have thought about how this job might be different from similar positions.

Once you do your research on the organization and the employer, please come in for a mock interview!  Email us with a handful of hour-long times you’re available to chat.  Please note that mock interviews require preparation, and appointments need to be made at least 2 business days in advance!  Once you set up your appointment, complete a mock interview prep form and send the completed version to us with a copy of your resume and a copy of the job description.  

Case interviews are commonly used for consulting jobs and case questions are sometimes used for interviews in other fields such as marketing. You must have an individual or group mock case interview to prepare for them. It takes practice to answer these questions well – we’re happy to help you with a mock. Sign up for a mock interview with Arts & Sciences Career Development by emailing us with a handful of times you're available.  Here are some case interview preparation resources:

  1. CQInteractive walks you through cases and brain teasers
  2. Websites for consulting firms often have prep materials (Ex., Bain, BCG, Deloitte, Mercer, McKinsey, Oliver Wyman, and PwC)
  3. Management Consulting Prep
  4. Victor Cheng’s book Case Interview Secrets and website

You can also practice common interview questions on your own time.  Familiarize yourself with interview etiquette and also strategize for your answers!  Go through questions that are frequently asked, questions for you to ask employers, do’s and don’ts, and more here.

Sometimes interviews are tied in to on-campus recruiting, or OCR.  It's important to put on-campus recruiting into perspective — there are many career options for liberal arts students and only a sampling of employers can recruit on campus each year. The majority of recruiters are large, private sector employers who recruit for business-related positions. A few public-sector and mid-size employers also recruit each year. Approximately 20 percent of Arts & Sciences job-seeking graduates get their jobs through on-campus recruiting.

Full-time, entry-level corporate and selected nonprofit and government jobs for seniors generally are posted in Handshake from late August to November, while corporate and government summer internships and competitive research or fellowships for juniors and sophomores usually are posted in Handshake shortly after that.  See the Cornell Career Services website for more information about on-campus recruiting. You must complete the required tutorial to gain eligibility to participate.

In addition to on-campus recruiting, Arts & Sciences also participates in the New York Recruiting Consortium, or NYRC.  NYRC is an off-campus program for juniors and seniors in the College of Arts & Sciences provides interviews for full-time employment and internships in consulting, education, finance, health services, legal services, medical research, nonprofits and publishing. Participating liberal arts colleges/universities in the consortium include Cornell, Brown University, Connecticut College, Trinity College and Union College.  Come chat with us on how to get involved, or see our full page on this recruiting program.

Next: Common Interview Questions and Interviewing Tips