Adding structure to your interview answers

Justin Ling Updated by Justin Ling

The 10 Essential Behavioral Interview Questions: 

Here are the most common questions you'll face in the interview. Knowing your answers to these questions will keep you prepared for a majority of questions you'll be asked. 

  1. Tell me about yourself
  2. Why do you want to in [Name of Role]?
  3. Why do you want to work at [Name of Firm]?
  4. What is your greatest weakness? (give examples)
  5. What is your greatest strength? (give examples)
  6. What is your biggest achievement? (give examples)
  7. Tell me about a time you worked with a difficult teammate
  8. Tell me about a time you faced an ethical dilemma
  9. Tell me about a time you failed
  10. Tell me about a time you successfully persuaded someone to adopt your point of view

To answer these questions we've compiled 3 structural approaches to help you. The objective is for you to think deeply about your answers, understand yourself and your match for the company better during the process. Use the structures to help you communicate in an organized manner. 

Remember, honesty is key. Your goal is to communicate yourself and your skills accurately. The interviewer is there to help you determine if this company is the best place for you. If it is not, they've just saved years of you working at a company that was not right for you!

“Tell Me About Yourself” Outline:

 The Introduction: Quickly introduce yourself. Mention your name, the school you attend, the year you’re currently in, and your concentration of study. *If you are an international candidate, you can mention from where and when you moved to the U.S. here.*

Passion for [Industry]: What made you interested in finance? Why do you gravitate towards it?

 Professional Experiences: What have you done and what have you learned? How have those experiences influenced the progression of your career journey?

 Present Day: What about the company and/or role you are interviewing for excites you?

The Rule of Three Technique:

Answer your questions with 3 reasons and you’ll come off polished and ensure that your answer is comprehensive and distinct.

The trick with the rule of three in an interview situation is to learn your threes and practice them so that you can weave them into speech naturally. If you start answering every question with a mechanical list of three, you’ll sound like a robot! “Rule of 3” questions are typically open-ended and usually revolve around why you chose to pursue a certain field, attend a certain institution, or pursue a specific product or industry group. When coming across a question of this type, ask yourself, “Do I have multiple reasons for having made/making this decision?” If the answer is “yes”, odds are you can answer it with the “Rule of 3.”

Questions you can answer with rule of 3: 

  1. Why do you want to in [Name of Role]?
  2. Why do you want to work at [Name of Firm]?

STAR Interview Response Technique

The STAR interview response technique is a structured method for answering behavioral interview questions. These questions ask how you’ve handled past situations in the workplace (or projects at school, extracurriculars, etc. if you do not have work experience).As past performance can be a good predictor of future performance, employers ask these questions to assess if candidates have the competencies and experiences required for the job they’re interviewing for. 

There are three steps to preparing for behavioral questions:Make a list of experiences and skill-sets needed for the job. Come up with one or two stories/examples that demonstrate your ability in each area Structure each story with the STAR method, breaking each example down with:

Situation: Describe the situation you were in, also known as the “backstory” — the who, what, where, and when.

Task: Provide more detail. What were you trying to accomplish? What was your role? Did you face any challenges? 

Action: What specific actions did you take? Focus on what you did, not what your teammates did!

Result: What was the result of your actions (specifics and quantifiable metrics)? Talk about what you accomplished, but most importantly, emphasize what you learned.

Each answer should be under 1.5, you’ll find that painting a clear picture in a concise and structured manner will help portray you as a results-driven, well-versed candidate.

Questions you can answer with STAR:

  1. What is your greatest weakness? (give examples)
  2. What is your greatest strength? (give examples)
  3. What is your biggest achievement? (give examples)
  4. Tell me about a time you worked with a difficult teammate
  5. Tell me about a time you faced an ethical dilemma
  6. Tell me about a time you failed
  7. Tell me about a time you successfully persuaded someone to adopt your point of view

 

  

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