During Thursday’s Common Hour, Davidson alumnus and Trustee Bill Reed ’76, Vice President and Senior Credit Officer at Moody’s Investors Service, gave his presentation “Get Hired: How to Succeed in Your Next Interview” to a full house. Students from all class years and majors gathered in the Union to hear Reed’s approach to interviewing, one that he has used for over thirty years at nine different employers. He suggests that interviews are much like oral exams that students should study for in order to come across as more confident and relaxed.
Here are some interview tips Reed provided during his talk:
1) Prepare flashcards: Write down ten to fifteen questions that are likely to come up in an interview and provide short, three to four bullet point responses. Go over these questions and responses five or six times, or until you feel comfortable. Reed advised finding a friend who will listen so that you are at ease answering the questions with someone else present. Having a logical, three-point answer to a question will distinguish you in the interviewer’s mind.
2) Explain your answers: Reed stressed giving honest and thoughtful responses, rather than something generic. For example, if you have a lower GPA, give a thoughtful explanation for it. Telling the interviewer that you found freshman year distribution requirements difficult, but that your GPA has improved since entering your major shows more reflection than a more terse answer. Moreover, have examples from your own experiences ready that are applicable to a variety of questions.
3) Have questions prepared for the interviewer: There is always time at the end of an interview for any questions you might have, and you want to be prepared. Reed suggested the following questions as a guideline: What are the keys to a successful career at XYZ? What is the top priority for a new employee? Can you tell me about your career path? These sorts of questions show your interest in the interviewer and are things that are not readily answered on a company’s website.
4) Send a thank you email: Immediately. Even if you do not think that the interview went well, a thank you email can go a long way. This extra step distinguishes you from the other candidates and can be a helpful way to remind an interviewer about yourself if there is a large pool of applicants. Reed recommended citing specific instances from the interview as a way to make you stand out, rather than a form letter.
By preparing for an interview using Reed’s suggestions, students can avoid using initial interviews as practice, will be better prepared, and will be able to present themselves in a more professional manner. To learn more about how to succeed in an interview, visit the Center for Career Development website and look over the Interviewing Guide.
Thank you again to Bill Reed ’76 for helping students to ace their interview!