Gearing Up for Interviews

Author name
Jennifer Agor, Assistant Director, Duke Career Center
two women with one shaking hands with a man

As you prepare your resumes and cover letters make sure interview prep is also on your to-do list. We often receive lots of questions about interview preparation, so here are a few tips to get your started.

Behavioral Interviews:

This is the standard interview type. Employers ask questions which give them an indication of how you’ve behaved in certain situations in the past, which lets them know how you’ll likely approach the same type of situation in the future. Some examples:

  • Tell me about a time you worked as part of a team.
  • Tell me about a time things didn’t go the way you planned, and what you did to address the situation.
  • When was the last time you failed?

These types of questions can be easily answered with some thought and reflection beforehand, and preparation of stories. Often, the the STAR method is the preferred format for arranging your answers. It allows you to briefly frame the Situation, lay out the Task at hand, tell the employer what Actions you took and what Results occurred because of those actions. See more common behavioral questions on the Career Center Interviewing Guide.

Behavioral Interview Practice:

The Career Center offers many ways to prepare for interviews.

  • We have a new tool this year (coming soon) called Optimal Resume. Through this system, you can practice interviewing as well as create resumes and CVs. There are lists of behavioral questions and each has a coaching video, which will allow you to judge how you did in answering the question, and give you pointers on how to format your best answer.
  • This year, our Practice Interview Day, September 20, offers 45-minute practice interviews with alumni and local employers. Sign up for a slot in CareerConnections—registration opens September 2.
  • Career advisers also offer individual practice interviews with students. After an initial interview prep appointment, you can schedule a practice interview with your adviser. These are 45-minute appointments for behavioral interviews, followed by feedback and tips for improvement.
    At the beginning of the fall semester, one-on-one appointments with advisers will be available starting October 1, and will available for sign-ups in CareerConnections two weeks prior.

Case Interviewing:

Students considering consulting are frequently looking for ways to practice and prepare for the case interview. A few tips:

  • Read Case in Point and practice through the cases presented there.
  • Duke Consulting Club is partnering with Business Oriented Women (BOW) this year to launch a case interview buddy registry. It’s a single place to find interview buddies you can practice with, no matter what level you’re at, no matter where you are. By joining the registry, you’ll also receive exclusive interview tips, case books, and many other materials that’ll help with your interview skills. Join the Case Interview Buddy Registry.
  • Attend the Career Center Consulting Case Interview Clinic, Tuesday, September 17 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. [Registration required in CareerConnections]

Technical Interviewing:

  • Read through Cracking the Coding Interview and work through the test problems.
  • Use websites like Leetcode and Hackerrank to practice through coding problems and interview questions. Make sure to practice talking through your thought process out loud (an interviewer is going to want to know why you’re making the choices you are) and whiteboarding—this is often how you’ll do a coding interview on site, not on a computer.
  • Pay attention to the Career Center event calendar or Events@Duke. Often two or three technical interviewing events are scheduled each semester.

Overall, the biggest point in all interviewing is preparation, preparation, preparation!  Start working now to make yourself the most competitive candidate.

For more resources on career topics, see the Career Center website.