How To Answer: Why Do You Want This Job?

One of the most important questions you’ll ever be asked in an interview is, ‘Who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman?’ Just kidding! (The answer is Batman BTW.)

The most important question actually is: Why do you want this job?

Deceptively simple, this question has the potential to make or break your chances of landing your dream job. But don’t fret, because we’re going to walk you through crafting the perfect response. Plus, we’ll go over a few common mistakes that people make, too, just for good measure.

Batman approves.

Answering The Most Important Question

There are two parts to a great answer for “Why do you want this job?”

The first part of your answer should focus on the position you’re applying to. You want to start by describing why you’re interested in that specific job.

Say, for example, you’re in an interview for the position of—oh I don’t know—Keeper of the Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Your answer should therefore highlight your passion for plants and animals. Think about specific things you’ve done that would show this. For instance, maybe you were president of Hufflepuff’s Herbology club or grew up on a Mandrake farm. The key is to take something from your past experiences that shows an interviewer you’ll work hard and care about succeeding if you’re hired.

What most people think after answering that question.

The second part of your answer should focus on why you want to work at THIS company.

The key here is research, research, and more research. You want to find something unique and interesting about the company that shows you didn’t just skim the “About Us” section on its website. Make sure you find something specific and relevant to the position you want. There are plenty of resources where you can easily access this kind of information, like WayUp company profiles, podcasts, company blogs, etc.

Read ALL the articles!

Some Common Interview Mistakes To Avoid

Even if you have the makings of a great answer, there are a couple common mistakes we’ve come across that will drive any interviewer insane.

The first is answering the phone with just a simple, “Hello.” or the painfully casual, “Hey.” This leaves interviewers responsible for following up with something like, “Is this Patrick?” and gives them unnecessary work.

A simple solution is to always answer the phone by saying, “Hello, this is Patrick.” If you’re answering a call for an interview, you want to sound as professional as possible. (Of course, don’t say “Patrick” unless that’s your name.)

The next problem is a bit harder to tackle: filler words. For those unfamiliar with filler words, I present exhibit A:

Don’t think Patrick gets too many second interviews.

We can promise that if you pepper your interview responses with “ummms,” “likes,” and “uhhhs,” then your chances of getting hired plummet. It makes you sound like you didn’t prepare ahead of time and don’t really care about the job.

The best way to avoid filler words is practice. Once you have your perfect response crafted, say it out loud over and over again until you’re reciting it in your sleep.

Do, however, leave some room for improvisation and try to sound natural. Some “likes” and “umms” are inevitable, but don’t make it seem like it’s a habit.

Think Before You Speak

If you’re applying for a job, make sure you know why you want it. Any interviewer worth her salt will want to know, so think about why the position and company are right for you. Answering this well will distinguish you as someone who’s not only qualified for a job but also ready to thrive and succeed in the long-run.

P.S. If you’re interested in seeing these techniques put into practice, check out my other article about how I landed a job by wearing mismatched socks!

Can You Teach English Abroad During College? Everything You Need To Know About Teaching English Overseas

Here at the WayUp Guide, we know that going abroad is more than just an extended vacation. It’s an opportunity to truly broaden your horizons and invite new ways of thinking into your life. Connection with other people is a huge part of that process. To teach English abroad is to connect with a group of people trying to do the same thing that you are: Participate in a global society.

We’ve put together this piece to tell you everything you need to know about teaching English abroad.

Is It possible To Teach English While Studying Abroad?

For the most part, having your own classroom while you’re studying abroad in a traditional program is very rare. If you’re already headed to Europe, Asia, or anywhere else on a study abroad program and you’re hoping to teach English while you’re there for a semester, the chances of doing this in an institution are very low. Even if it were more widely available, it would take a huge chunk of your time (given that it would come in addition to classes). The added stress of having a job, classes, and everything else would probably do more harm than good to your experience.

It is, however, very possible to teach English to individuals as a tutor or to work with an organization on a smaller scale. If you’re interested in tutoring foreign students, there are plenty of opportunities to teach English. This is especially true if you’re in a big city with universities. Some people are even unofficially hired to teach English to interested groups at community centers or other organizations. However, accepting a paid position comes with a web of legal entanglements. (You can read more about the dangers of that here.)

Given that getting paid to teach English is usually difficult, you can always tutor/teach on a volunteer basis. This is nice because there’s a much smaller time commitment when it comes to volunteering. Ask your study abroad program director or your study abroad office if such opportunities are available at your site. Students who came before you may have already done similar programs. If not, you can always call around to local universities or schools and ask if they need a volunteer.

Teaching English while you’re studying abroad, on a small scale, is definitely doable.

Teaching English Abroad In A Summer Program

If you’re really interested in the full teaching experience, then you should consider a summer program.

Again, if you’re an undergrad, most of the positions available to you will be on a volunteer basis. However, those programs will often pay for your room and board. You might also receive a small stipend for spending money. The best places to find programs like these are developing countries. Established economies like those in Europe and East Asia will usually have higher educational standards for English teachers.

If you want a paid position, then you should look into to getting a TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification to bolster your resume. After that, it should be much easier to find a paid position without having to first pay a private service like Geovisions to scout out a position for you (although that is a fine option).

However, as we’ll talk about in the next section, a certification is not strictly necessary. And there are most certainly options for those looking to teach without them.

Do You Need A Certification To Teach English Abroad?

The short answer is, no. There are many programs that do not require certifications for undergrads looking to teach English in the summer. For the other types of tutoring or small-group teaching positions, those are usually undocumented to begin with and won’t require any certification. However, even programs that do allow undergrads to teach without certification will sometimes say they prefer it and favor students who do have it.

As we mentioned above, having a TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification can add a lot to your resume as a potential teacher. However, it is totally possible to teach without a certification. Check out our list of programs below to see which ones do and don’t require certification.

These certifications cost approximately $500 and can usually be completed through an online course.

Longer English Teacher programs for after graduation have different requirements. But you don’t have to worry about going through official government training or getting certifications when you’re an undergrad (usually).

Here Are Some Great Programs And Resources To Check Out.

Find programs and jobs:

  • Dave’s ESL Cafe — Resource for connecting ESL (English as a Second Language) teachers and students from around the world.

  • API Study Abroad — Program that sends people around the world to teach English and volunteer.

  • AIESEC US — Non-profit, student-run group connecting teachers and students in more than 107 countries and territories.

  • Alliance Abroad/AIDE — Career site for teaching English abroad in Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

  • Interexchange — Site connecting students and recent grads with programs to travel abroad, teach English, and volunteer (will help you become TEFL-certified).

  • World Teach — Program connecting students and recent grads with opportunities to teach English abroad during the year, for a semester, or during the summer.

  • International Volunteer HQ — Organization connecting students with volunteer programs, some of which involve teaching English.

There are a ton of other programs and organizations out there! This list is just to get the ball rolling!

Find program reviews/ratings/details:

  • CIEE — Organization that helps you find study abroad/teach abroad programs that are right for you.

  • Go Overseas — Find reviews, compiled ratings, and program details.

  • Study Abroad 101 — Reviews, ratings, and more.

For all your other study abroad, internship, or career questions, be sure to check out the WayUp Guide for more!

Top 10 Things You Should Look For In a Company

Whether you’re looking for a paid or unpaid internship or an entry-level job, finding a great position goes way beyond the job description. From company culture to opportunities for growth, there are several things you should keep in mind when deciding between potential employers.

Here are the top things to look for in a company.

1. Do the company’s values align with yours?

One of the most important things to consider when researching potential employers is how their values align with yours. This is because working for a company is about a lot more than just the hours you put in each day. It’s about knowing that the company values some of the same things you do (like honesty, integrity and hard work) and understanding how those values match up with your own. Whether it’s finding a company with a model you admire or one that takes environmental action seriously and donates money to prevent global warming, you should feel that you and your potential employer stand for the same things and that you can build a lasting relationship.

2. Does the company culture fit your personality?

Many employers list cultural fit as the most important thing they look for when interviewing candidates, and you should put this at the top of your list too. For example, if you’re more comfortable in a relaxed environment than a conservative one, then a company with a corporate culture might not be a great fit for you. Before you sign that offer letter, take the time to assess how you’d fit in at the company and how the company culture would fit you.

3. Are the team members people you’d love to work with?

Whether it’s an internship or a full-time job, you’re going to be spending a lot of time with your new co-workers so it’s important to make sure that they’re people you’d like to work with. This goes hand-in-hand with cultural fit and it’s something you should be aware of when considering a new opportunity. The average American spends around one-third of each weekday at work, so having co-workers you get along with is a key part of being happy at your job.

4. Will you be offered opportunities to learn?

Having the chance to learn new things is important in any position, but it’s especially important during the early stages of your career. For that reason, finding an internship or full-time job that allows you to learn as much as possible is key to the development of your career.

5. Is there room for growth within the company?

In addition to offering you opportunities to learn about the industry, a great company should also offer opportunities for advancement within the organization. This is even more important in the case of internships and entry-level jobs because the opportunity for a promotion (or a full-time job) is a great incentive to learn as much as possible and prove your commitment to the team. The exception to this is if you’re not looking for a long-term opportunity but are looking to gain experience for a year or two before going to grad school.

6. Will your managers make you feel appreciated?

Feeling appreciated is an important part of any life experience, but it’s especially important in your working life. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that there should be company-sponsored happy hours or free weekly lunches, it does mean that your employer should make you feel valued by offering positive feedback and supporting your efforts to learn and improve.

7. Does the company offer security and stability?

One of the most important things a company can offer its employees is a secure and stable environment. This doesn’t just mean a regular paycheck (although that’s part of it), but also a proven history of steady success and a sense of job security. Although it’s unrealistic to expect smooth sailing all the time, a solid track record is a great indication that the company can provide you with the type of environment you need to succeed.

8. Does the company set you up for success?

Although a lot of your professional success will depend on you, there are several things an employer can do to set you for a great outcome. This includes everything from in-depth training to goal setting and regular feedback, factors that are especially important as your begin your career.

9. Will your role teach your transferrable skills?

In addition to offering training for your current role, a great company will set you up for future success by teaching you transferrable skills that you can use in your next position. When applying for a job, ask yourself what you can learn from the role and don’t be afraid to discuss training opportunities and skill building during your interview.

10. Will you be challenged in a positive way?

Being challenged to learn and to grow is one of the key markers of a great company. In fact, getting out of your company zone is one of the best ways to learn new skills and to find out who you are as a professional. Look for companies that make you feel enthusiastic about taking on new challenges and offer the support you need to turn those challenges into wins.

Whether you’re embarking on your first job search or your fifth, finding a company that will provide you with great opportunities requires some research. By following these tips, you’ll be sure to find the right fit and to give yourself the best chance of success.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How Much Should I be Paid at an Entry-Level Job? and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?

3 Cover Letter Mistakes You Never Knew You Were Making

One of the keys to landing an awesome job is starting off on the right foot with the recruiter. Writing a strong resume and filling out your WayUp profile are the best ways to get started, but if you want to really stand out, a cover letter can be a great way to demonstrate the value you can bring to an organization. That said, few things are as annoying to recruiters as a poorly written cover letter. So, what can you do to ensure that yours make a good impression? Here are the top three cover letter mistakes and tips on what you can do to fix them.

1. Focusing too much on yourself and your resume.

Although it’s great to list one or two key accomplishments that are relevant to the role you’re applying for, your cover letter shouldn’t rehash your resume. In fact, it should focus on the things that you can bring to the table and only mention the skills and experience that are most relevant to the position. Instead of summarizing your achievements, go beyond your resume and make your experiences personal to the job.

Pro Tip: Quantifying achievements with metrics is a wonderful way to demonstrate the impact you’ve had at previous jobs and to help hiring managers envision you as a member of their team.

2. Making it longer than a page.

Another common cover letter mistake a lot of college students and recent grads make is to write a letter that’s far too long. Although this might be tempting (after all, you want to show the hiring manager that you’ve done a lot of cool things and could do a wonderful job for them), it’s important to remember that employers are often quite busy and often don’t have time to read a two-page letter. Instead of telling them your whole life story, focus on conveying your enthusiasm for the role and highlighting 2-3 key things that define your work and your personality.

Pro Tip: Knowing how to structure your cover letter will go a long way toward ensuring that you get it right. We recommend keeping it to three paragraphs with the first paragraph mentioning why you’re applying for the position, the second paragraph explaining your interest in the role and the industry and the third paragraph discussing your qualifications. This is a great way to ensure that you’re hitting on all the right points without going overboard on the length.

3. Not checking for typos and grammar mistakes.

Of all the mistakes you can make on your cover letter, not proofreading for typos is probably the worst. This signifies a lack of attention and also a lack of care, two things that are unlikely to impress recruiters. The best way to avoid this is by making sure to read through your letter at least three times and asking a friend or family member to take a look at it too.

Pro Tip: Here’s a proofreading tip you may not have heard before: Reading backwards is an excellent way to catch spelling mistakes that you might otherwise gloss over. The best way to do it is by going through the letter word by word (starting with your signature) and working your way to the top.

While a strong cover letter can help you get noticed by employers, a weak one might hurt your chances of getting hired. By knowing what mistakes to look out for — and what to do if they pop up — you’ll be able to write the kind of cover letter that will help you stand out from the crowd.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Become a Financial Analyst and find answers to common interview questions such as Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?

Here’s What To Do After An Interview If You Want To Get Hired

Not doing interview follow-up is a bit like cramming for a final and then falling asleep an hour beforehand and missing the whole thing. You did all the heavy lifting, but will probably still get a zero.

As absurd as this may sound, even the most organized and hard-working students fall victim to a similar problem every year. They send internship applications, but don’t follow-up with the employers, leaving a high percentage chance that their application will get lost in the mix.

Interview follow-ups are among the most important and overlooked aspects of getting an internship, so take note.

What IS a follow-up?

A follow-up is a simple email or note, thanking someone for taking the time to meet or speak with you. A follow-up helps you build rapport with an interviewer or contact and lets them know you are a professional and comfortable communicating in a professional setting.

Most importantly though, a good follow-up makes sure you stay top of mind when a hiring manager makes the difficult decision of selecting who gets an internship and who doesn’t. More often then not, when there are multiple qualified candidates for a role, the hiring manager will pick the person who “feels” right.

“So wait, you’re telling me that a simple email, that I can write in 2 minutes, might be the tipping point that lands me my dream internship???”

Exactly!

Scenarios and examples.

Follow-ups are more of an art than a science. When done politely and thoughtfully, they will leave a lasting positive impression. When done awkwardly or aggressively, they can get you branded as a pain in the behind. Ultimately, they are so important and so commonplace in the professional world that it is absolutely essential that you learn the follow-up process and commit to using them.

Pro tip: Remember that most hiring managers are busy, so be considerate, direct and keep it brief.

Below are different scenarios where you should follow-up and some best practices on how to ensure that your message shines!

1.) After an interview

You should follow-up after every interview you have, no exceptions! This email should be sent either the day of the interview or the day after. It should be brief and thankful. And, if you would like, you can reference a part of the interview in which you feel like you connected with the interviewer, but you want to avoid coming off like a suck up.

Ex. 1

“John,

Thanks for taking the time to interview with me today. It was really interesting to learn how Widget Corp’s social media efforts are focused on creating two-way conversations, rather than pushing content. I have always found that listening first leads to stronger relationships and better results, and really appreciated this point.

Please let me know if you would like any additional references and thanks again for your consideration.

Cheers,

Sally

Pro Tip: Oftentimes, a short and to the point email is best after an interview.

Ex. 2

“John,

Thanks for taking the time to interview me. I think Widget Corp has an exciting product and culture, and believe that my experience as social media director for my university would make me a great fit.

Thanks for your consideration and have a great rest of your week.

Regards,

Sally

All-Star Pro Tip:
Bring a blank thank-you card and stamped envelope to an in-person interview. After you leave the interview, fill-in the thank-you card and place it in the nearest mailbox to be delivered to your interviewer’s desk the next morning.

2.) After submitting an application and not hearing back

The second most common time to use a follow-up is if you have submitted an application and you have not heard back. While many students assume this is because they have been rejected, in many cases a lack of response occurs when the hiring manager is overwhelmed and they have simply been lost in the mix. As long as you are polite and considerate you have nothing to lose, in following-up and seeing where you stand in the review process.

Ex.

John,

I know you are really busy so I wanted to quickly hop back on to your inbox. Did you happen receive my application for your marketing management role?

Thanks for your time.

Cheers,

Sally

3.) After a networking lunch or informational interview

It is common that as you conduct your internship search, you will take time to meet with different professionals in your field; either references from family, professors, or other contacts you have developed. When these busy professionals take time to speak with you about the industry, it warrants a follow-up, with the best follow-ups thanking them for their time and showing them that you paid attention and learned something new from the conversation.

“John,

Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today, it was really interesting to learn more about how you have seen social media change from one-to-many type conversations, to more one-on-one conversations. I agree that building relationships, rather than just spraying content is a much more powerful way to grow users in new online communities.

In fact I just read an article in Search Engine Land about this that I thought you might enjoy.

Thanks again for your time, would you mind if I had one or two quick follow-up questions if I reached out?

All the best,

Sally

4.) Immediately after sending an application

A follow-up directly after sending an application can be a way to stand out, but should only be used if the selection process is rolling, not if there is a set deadline.

Ex.

“John,

My name is Sally and I just submitted an application to your Widget Marketing Position. I spent last year marketing widgets and learned a lot about the process and am excited to bring my past experience, and team-centric focus to your marketing campaigns this summer. If you have any follow-up questions feel free to let me know and thanks for your time and consideration.

Cheers,

Sally

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as What is an Internship? and find answers to common interview questions such as What’s Your Dream Job?

What’s the Difference Between An Offer Letter And A Contract?

Understanding the difference between an offer letter and a contract is one of the key ways to set yourself up for success in your career. Since the terms are closely linked, many recent grads tend to think of them interchangeably when in fact, an offer letter and a contract have some important differences.

Here are the key things you need to know about offer letters and contracts.

What is an offer letter?

Once you’ve successfully gotten through the interview process and received a verbal offer, you’ll soon receive an offer letter. So, what is an offer letter? It’s a formal job offer that includes most or all of the following things:

  • Job title
  • Start date
  • Salary
  • Manager’s name
  • Employee benefits
  • Employment relationship

Intended to lay out the terms of employment, an offer letter is the employer’s way of letting you know exactly what the job entails and what you can expect from accepting the role. Once you receive an offer letter, you typically have anywhere from 24 hours to a week to sign it. If you choose not to do so, the offer will expire.

What is a contract?

Similar to an offer letter, a contract lays out the details of a role and includes many of the same key pieces of information. However, unlike an offer letter, a contract typically has a specific time period attached to it and is used in cases where employers are hiring someone for a certain amount of time. Contracts are likely to be used in the following cases:

  • Freelance positions
  • Temp to perm positions
  • Contract positions for specific projects

Like offer letters, contracts are time sensitive and generally require a signature within about a week.

Are you likely to receive both an offer letter and a contract?

Generally speaking, the answer is no. Although offer letters and contracts serve similar purposes, they’re generally used for different types of work. While an offer letter indicates the beginning of a long term full-time role, a contract is more often used to a establish short-term work relationship or one that does not fit the terms for full-time employment. For example, while you might work standard full-time hours on a contract, you’re unlikely to receive the same benefits as a full-time employee such as health insurance or a 401k plan.

Pro Tip: Temp to perm employees (employees who begin as contractors before transitioning to full-time members of the team) are the exception to the rule. Since these types of employees start off as contracted workers, they work on a contract basis before receiving their offer letter to join the team full-time.

Knowing the difference between an offer letter and a contract is a great way to manage your expectations when it comes to accepting a job offer. This will ensure that you know what each type of offer means and that you’re able to make an informed decision about accepting it.

What Should You Do If You Have A Verbal Job Offer But Not A Written One?

After successfully applying for a job and going through the interview process, the hiring manager says the phrase you’ve been hoping to hear. “We want to offer you the job!” But what happens when several days have passed and you still haven’t received the offer letter? Do you follow up to ask when you can expect it or just sit tight waiting for the email?

Here are the steps to take if you have a verbal offer but not a written one.

Send a follow-up note asking for a timeframe

If it’s been over 48 hours and you still haven’t received a formal offer, contact the hiring manager to express your enthusiasm about the offer and to ask about the status. Keep your note short and to the point, and be specific about what you’re asking.

Say something like:

“Dear Ms. Blocs,

Thank you so much again offering me the social media coordinator position. I’m very excited about the role and looking forward to being part of the team at XYZ company.

One quick question: When can I expect to receive the offer letter? I’d love to review it and understand the timeline by which I must make my decision.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thank you again,
Emily”

Understand what might be causing the delay

Waiting for a job offer can be nerve wracking, especially when you’re not sure of the exact timeframe. A good way to stay calm is to understand some common reasons for a delay. These can include things like the time it takes to coordinate between different departments or the fact that a key member of the team may be away and unable to offer their approval until they return. Whatever the case, there are likely to be several reasons why the offer letter hasn’t arrived yet that have nothing to do with you personally. Sending the follow-up note is a great way to address these issues directly and to get the hiring manager to give you some clarity about the hold up.

Keep going with your job search

Another key thing to do while waiting for the offer letter is to keep going with your job search. Since job offers do occasionally fall apart before an offer letter is sent out, it’s important to keep your options open by continuing to apply to jobs and to go on interviews. This will ensure that you’re not losing momentum in your job search and that you’re able to move on quickly if the offer doesn’t come through. Added bonus: You might get a second job offer in the process.

Although waiting for an offer letter can definitely cause some anxiety, by following these steps you’ll be sure to stay on top of the process and to get hired as quickly as possible.

Cover Letter Guides

Before writing a cover letter, it’s important to understand how it can help or hurt you. In the internship application process a cover letter is your first impression. It’s an opportunity to tell a perspective employer why you’re the perfect fit for their internship and their office and just as importantly, a cover letter is an opportunity to tell an employer you don’t care about their position, by writing a sloppy or template cover letter. Some valuable cover letter topics include, explaining why a position interests you, what you bring to the table, how you would be a great fit, or something unique about you that makes you different from the hundreds of other candidates. The ultimate goal of your cover letter is to get the reader excited to meet you for an interview to learn more.

To summarize the points above, ingredients needed to make a successful cover letter are:

Header with contact information:

Including a header with your contact information on the cover letter makes you look professional and ensures your information will be easy to find. You should also consider including this header on all documents you’re submitting when applying, it demonstrates your professionalism and acts as an opportunity to brand yourself to the perspective employer.

Who is your audience?

Try to find the person who is in charge of intern hiring and address your cover letter and resume to them. Statistics show you have a better chance of being hired if you know who’s doing the hiring and if you recognize them, so take some time to research who will be reviewing your submitted materials and write to them specifically.

The hook:

The person reviewing applicant cover letters and resumes will most likely be going through more than you can imagine, so it’s extremely important to hook ‘em with the first line of your cover letter. Start your cover letter with a statement that will catch the reader’s eye, you can try an interesting or entertaining fact that relates you to the company. Always try your hardest to avoid the typical salutations used in writing, because chances are, your reader has already come across many and is sick of seeing them.

What I do and what I can do for you:

Employers want to know what you can bring to the table, so why beat around the bush, give them what they want! It’s rare for a hiring manager to read an entire cover letter from start to finish, so try using bullet points and bolded text to help identify the important information they’ll be searching for.

Finish strong, let your confidence shine:

Let the company know why you want to work for them and that you really believe you would be a good fit with their team, their company culture, and company community. Also, adding a signature will personalize your cover letter and help you stand out with a sense of professionalism.

How to Pick an MBA Program

Picking an MBA program is one of the most important decisions you can make when it comes to your career. Designed to improve your understanding of business administration and help you develop managerial, analytical and problem-solving skills, an MBA program will make you a competitive candidate in almost any industry. So how can you ensure that you’re picking a great program and taking every factor into account? The answer is to have a solid game plan in place before you start your applications.

Here are the key steps to take when selecting an MBA program.

1. Determine what you want from an MBA program

In order to get the most from any MBA program, you need a clear, focused goal. This means having a strong sense of what you want to do with your degree and finding a program that will help you develop the skills you need to get there. For example, if you’re interested in working in a particular industry, you may find that a specialized MBA program in an area like marketing, accounting or human resources might be good be a good fit for you. On the other hand, if you’re not sure how you want to apply your MBA degree, a general MBA program could be a better fit, particularly if you’re in the process of changing careers or considering doing so at some point down the line.

2. Research different types of MBA programs

Once you have a sense of what you want to get out of your MBA program, it’s time to start researching different types of programs. This includes learning about more specialized types of MBA degrees, looking at both part-time and full-time options to determine which one fits your schedule and also determining whether you want to go with a traditional program or an online one. Although you might already have a clear idea of what type of program you want to pursue, doing this type of research will ensure that you’re making a truly informed decision and finding the program that best fits your needs.

3. Ask for advice from current MBA candidates and graduates

Getting advice from other MBA candidates is a great way to gain a better understanding of different programs and to find out what you can expect from business school in general. The best way to approach this is by reaching out to friends or peers who are currently enrolled in an MBA program or have recently graduated from one. If you don’t have any friends in business school, that’s okay too. You can ask program administrators at school you’re considering to put you in touch with a current MBA candidate who can answer your questions.

4. Pick an MBA program that closely matches your needs

With all the information in place, it’s time to assess the different programs you’re considering and find the one that best fits your needs. This means taking into account your schedule, goals and personal finances and determining which programs work best for you. Although you’ll undoubtedly have a top choice, be sure to apply to at least three to five programs to give yourself the best chance of success.

Picking an MBA program requires a focused approach and an open mind. By following these tips, you’ll be sure to find the one that’s right for you.

Next, learn more about grad school such as How an MBA Program Works and get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Set Great Internship or Job Goals.

Top 20 Entry-Level Job Interview Questions and Answers

Congratulations on getting an interview, it’s no minor feat! It’s important to remember that the employer will be far less forgiving in an entry-level job interview than in an internship interview. Hiring a full-time employee is much riskier than hiring an intern for the summer. So come well rested, prepared, and as relaxed as you possibly can.

We’ve compiled a list of the top 20 entry-level interview questions and answers to help you prepare to land your first job after. They fall into the following categories:

Pro Tip: visit this page on your phone to turn these questions into flash cards for practicing!

Select a topic to navigate to related interview questions and view their answers.


The Core 5 Interview Questions

You’re guaranteed to get asked these questions.

1. Tell me about yourself.

This question is often used to break the ice and see how personable you can be. Be careful not to drone on endlessly for this question. It’s easy to get caught up in your back story and lose track of time. A safe answer is to give a brief overview that covers where you grew up, where you went to school, why you chose your major, any internship experience you have, and why you’re applying for this job.

2. What are your strengths? Your weaknesses?

To answer this question you need to do some introspection. Ask your friends, family, and any previous coworkers what they how they view your strengths and weaknesses. Prepare to discuss at least 3 strengths and 3 weaknesses. Stay away from clichés like “perfectionist” and “workaholic” as they can be interpreted as weaknesses. Own up to your faults. Everyone has them. Just be honest and open to improving yourself.

3. Give me an example or a situation in which…

These questions are not only used to determine what you learned from a particular experience, but also to assess how you would respond to potential workplace scenarios and situations. Prepare to talk about 3 scenarios in which you faced conflict or difficulty in either work or school, had difficulty with either a supervisor or peer, and a leadership opportunity or a project you are particularly proud of.

4. Tell me about this (class / internship) I see on your resume?

The good news here is that nobody knows and understands your experiences better than you, so you should be confident for this question. This is a great opportunity for you to sell yourself. A good framework for your answers is to explain the goals for any class or internship, cover your personal responsibilities in any projects, and discuss the outcomes. Again, avoid droning on for too long about any particular experience and wrap things up concisely.

5. What are your longer-term career goals (or where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years)?

There is no “right answer” to this question and it’s certainly ok to say that you don’t have any. However, be prepared to explain why you don’t have any. One solid strategy is to downplay your career goals and aspirations (you are young after all) and play up your interest in the company and industry of the job you’re applying for. Showcase your passion to be a part of whatever it is they are doing.

Entry-Level Specific Interview Questions

Questions specific to the nature of entry-level jobs.

1. Why are you interested in this role?

Stating a clear and concise answer here is crucial. The employer is looking to see that you are interested and ready to invest your time into such an opportunity. Be specific about your goals and expectations, discuss how you believe your qualifications are in-line with those required of the position, and be ready to explain why you chose this particular company when applying.

2. What do you know about our company?

Researching the company or organization you are applying to is an integral part of the application process, and this question is an evaluation of whether or not you have already done such an essential task. Prepare to answer questions regarding the origins of the company/organization, their current activities, and their objectives for the future.

Failing to have any knowledge of the company/organization you are applying for will appear to be indicative of a lack of interest or commitment to the application, and to the position itself, whether or not that was your actual intention.

3. How has your internship experience prepared you for the position you’re applying to?

If you don’t have internship experience, feel free to skip this one, as they probably won’t ask it. Otherwise, if your internship experience was directly relevant to the current role you’re applying for (i.e. the same general work), your answer should focus on the specifics of the internship work. Otherwise, it’s wise to focus on any experience you had working on a team, meeting deadlines, and communicating effectively.

4. What classwork has best prepared you for this role?

If you have group project experience, highlight it now. Focus on your role on a team and how you know how to be a team player. If there are classes with specific knowledge that directly prepared you for this role, you’re in luck, that’s another easy answer to this question.

5. How would you assess your writing and communication skills?

This is not a question that mid or senior-level applicants ever get asked. Writing and communication in school is very different from that in the professional world and the employer is checking to make sure you know the difference. If you’ve had experience communicating with full-time employees in your internship, let them know. Otherwise, hammer home the point that you know how to write clearly, concisely, and respectfully.

Academic or Interest-Related Interview Questions

Questions to assess your passion and motivation.

1. Why did you choose the major that you did?

You probably didn’t make a snap decision to major in your major. You likely chose it because you found it interesting, challenging, or thought it would lead to a promising career. The only key to answering this question is knowing why you chose your major and communicating that reasoning clearly. Be honest, even if your reasoning doesn’t seem interesting. It’s better to be honest to yourself and the employer up front than attempt to tell them what you think they want to hear.

2. What were some of your favorite/least favorite classes? Why?

Don’t just give a list of your classes or answer with something generic about how you liked all of them. Be opinionated here and honest. Try and stick to classes you enjoyed because they were stimulating or challenging and avoid saying that you enjoyed a class because it was easy or because you did well in it. The employer wants to see what piques your interest in your measure. They’re evaluating your ability to be genuine and passionate about things.

3. What activities do you do outside of work or school?

Employers like to see that you are engaged in other activities that are either indirectly or directly related to the skills required for the position you are applying for, but it isn’t a necessity. The most important part of this question is to be able to demonstrate that you have a life outside of work, and are invested in and passionate about experiencing new things.

4. How would your past professors or managers describe you?

It’s best to start answering this question with a clarification that you can’t known for certain how they would describe you. Start broad and cover as a whole how you think your previous supervisors or professors have viewed you. This is similar to the strengths and weaknesses question. Then, once you’ve stated broadly how you think you’re viewed, give a few specific examples. It’s best if you can demonstrate through examples (e.g. projects) why a professor or previous manager would say these things.

5. Have you worked any part-time jobs?

Part-time jobs are a major advantage when applying for a job. Over 80% of students have worked a part-time job by the time they graduate. It’s been shown again and again that students with part-time work experience do better in the work place. If you have some part-time job experience, highlight it here. One way to nail this question would be to talk about learning to work on a team, in a professional environment, and communicate with fellow employees. If you don’t have experience, a simple ‘no’ will do here.

Situational Interview Questions

Questions about your past behavior in certain situations to see how you react and learn from previous experiences.

1. Give me an example of a time in which you handled a looming deadline.

How well do you perform under pressure? That’s what the employer is trying to understand. Don’t be afraid to show your weakness here. This, like most situational questions, is trying to get at what you learned or took away from a past situation. Admit your weaknesses and how you’d handle them differently. Then highlight your strengths. Fortunately, you’ve probably had lots of recent experience with tight deadlines in your classes.

2. Give me an example of a time when you worked on a team. What was your role?

Your ability to collaborate and communicate with a team are probably the most important professional soft skills that you can have. Prepare for this by having some specific examples ready from when you worked on a group project. You don’t have to choose a group project where you were the team lead. What’s more important is that you knew your role on a team and that you performed well in your role. If that was a leadership role, great. If not, no worries. If you have examples of how you established or tweaked processes or mediated conflict within the team, use them.

3. Describe a situation where you taught a concept to a co-worker or classmate.

You’ve just spent a lot of time learning from professors and in groups, so you might not think of yourself as a teacher. However, the more knowledge you accumulate, the more likely it is that you’ll be teaching things in the future. It’s best to be specific if you can, and focus on an example from a group project at school or in a previous job. Focus primarily on how you communicated with the person and ensured that they were learning. Don’t focus so much on what you taught them, but rather on how you taught them.

4. Describe a time where you disagreed with a coworker or teammate on a project.

Disagreement is natural. The employer isn’t trying to assess your ability to debate, or even to know whether you’re right or wrong. What they want to know is at the end of the day, can you reach a consensus and move forward. Disagreement is good as long as it doesn’t prevent good work and progress from being made. Being able to resolve differences and move forward is a critical skill that all employers are looking for.

5. Describe a situation in which someone critiqued your work. How did you respond?

You’re (hopefully) going to get lots of feedback in any new job. How you take that feedback and what you do with it will often determine whether or not you keep the job. If you’re not willing to listen to feedback (even if you think it’s wrong) and attempt to address concerns, you likely won’t do well in many professional environments. To answer this question, try and find a situation where someone not only critiqued you, but a situation where you disagreed with that critique. Attempt to demonstrate how you still listened to the critique, voiced your own opinion, and did your best to understand where the critiquer was coming from. Show that you have the capacity to listen and change your behavior.

What’s Next

Now that you’ve got the top 20 questions down, you’re gonna nail that interview and get the job. Well, at least we hope you do! Next, check out some tips we have on evaluating entry-level job fit.

Once you’ve got the job, come check out our tips on starting your entry-level job off right and setting great entry-level job goals.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as What is an Entry-Level Job? and find answers to common interview questions such as Tell me about yourself.