Finding a Job

Most-Wanted MBA Job Skill: Rolling With the Punches


Recruiters say they need people who can deal with uncertainty and are able to work and make decisions with limited amounts of information

Photograph by Markus Hanke/Gallery Stock

Recruiters say they need people who can deal with uncertainty and are able to work and make decisions with limited amounts of information

Interviews for full-time jobs are in full swing. Every morning, I see students in their suits, waiting to hear their names called, while in the interview rooms, recruiters busily pull together their materials and prepare to impress the candidates. Everyone is wondering what the other person is going to be like.

Although many students go through the on-campus recruiting process, quite a few instead pursue job searches on their own. Usually these individuals seek opportunities in areas such as private equity, start-ups, entertainment, or tech. They may also be seeking a typical MBA role, but in a specific geography.

Preparing for your interviews, regardless of the type of search you’re conducting, is always stressful. Students spend a great deal of time practicing cases, researching companies, and talking with people about a given company.

As you prepare for your interviews, one additional thing I suggest you spend time researching and thinking about is how the job for which you are interviewing has changed—or may change, given what is happening in its field or industry.

As an example, one piece of feedback I have received from recruiters is that they need people who can deal with uncertainty and are able to work and make decisions with limited amounts of information. Be prepared to share examples of your abilities and experiences in this area.

It’s also important for you to anticipate and adapt to the unexpected in an interview. I spoke with one student who found that her second-round interviews were a succession of five cases. Anyone who has done one or two case interviews knows how draining they can be. Imagine five!

While doing all your research and preparing for the unexpected, it’s important not to forget some basic principles of this process.

Try to get enough rest the evening before your interviews. You may be conditioned to operating at a sleep deficit while in school, but interviews are like taking an oral exam. You can’t erase what you say. Being well-rested will help you think clearly and allow you to be your sharpest.

Also, don’t forget you still need to present the relevant traits about yourself as they apply to the job. Highlighting your strengths and knowing your development needs and where you can add value to the organization remain central to interviewing success.

Ultimately, this is all about demonstrating that you’re a good fit and have strong communications skills. Remember, you’ve done this before. You can do it again, with great success.

Join the discussion on the Bloomberg Businessweek Business School Forum, visit us on Facebook, and follow @BWbschools on Twitter.

Hori is the associate dean of corporate partnerships at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She is the former head of Kellogg’s Career Management Center where she counseled MBA students on careers for more than 16 years.

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