How to Answer: What Excites You About This Industry?

Knowing a lot about the industry you’re trying to enter is a great first step to getting your foot in the door. Being able to demonstrate that knowledge during an interview is even better. When potential employers ask “What excites you about this industry?,” what they really want to know is that you’re passionate about the field you’ve chosen and that you have a solid understanding of the company and its goals.

Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing your answer.

Know the ins and outs of your chosen industry

In order to figure out what excites you about a field, it’s important to research initiatives and campaigns in the industry to find out which ones really appeal to you. Hiring managers want to see that you’re not only passionate about the space the company is in, but that you also closely follow the most recent trends and can use this knowledge to add value to their business.

For example, if you’re interested in sales, finding out about innovative sales tactics will allow you to demonstrate that you know what works and how it’s done. If you want to work in engineering, be prepared to discuss how mobile is changing the development of technology. If you’re looking at a role in marketing, you should be able to name brands that are thought leaders in the space.

Pro Tip: Hiring managers can see right through someone who is reciting the company’s mission statement or says something generic like “I think the sales industry is fascinating.” Instead, talk about a specific campaign you’ve followed or a person you admire. If you know people who work in the industry, you can also talk about the work they’ve done that’s sparked your interest.

Say something like: “Sales is fascinating because of the competition it sparks. As someone who has always been highly competitive, I have closely followed the sales tactics between Verizon and T-mobile and I’ve learned a lot about the methods that really work in this industry.”

Connect your excitement to your long-term career plans

Having established your knowledge of the field and what excites you about it, talk about how this connects with your long-term plans. Whether you’re applying for an internship or an entry-level job, talking about your goals will show the hiring manager that you’ve considered not only your current enthusiasm for the industry, but also how your excitement aligns with your plans for the future.

Say something like: “My interest in sales stems from the economics classes I took in college, where I learned about what makes companies sustainable. I’d love to be part of an industry where I can develop this knowledge in a hands-on way, and hope to use this knowledge to eventually lead a team of my own.”

How to bring it all together:

“Sales is fascinating because of the competition it sparks. As someone who has always been highly competitive, I have closely followed the sales tactics between Verizon and T-mobile and I’ve learned a lot about the methods that really work in this industry. My interest in sales stems from the economics classes I took in college, where I learned about what makes companies sustainable. I’d love to be part of an industry where I can develop this knowledge in a hands-on way, and hope to use this knowledge to eventually lead a team of my own.”

Answering “What excites you about this industry?” is a great opportunity to show that you’re thoughtfully considering your future and looking for a role that will allow you to add value to the company while also aligning with your goals.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 6 Things to Do in Your First Week at a New Job and find answers to common interview questions such as What Gets You Up in the Morning?

How to Answer: What Other Companies Are You Interviewing With?

Just as you’re about to wrap up the interview, the hiring manager has one final question: “So, what other companies are you interviewing with?” By asking this question, the interviewer is trying to determine how serious you are about the position and how committed you are to landing a job in the specific industry you’re trying to enter. Although this is a less common interview question than some others you’ll encounter, there’s still a chance it will come up, so it’s great to have a strong answer prepared.

Here’s are some tips to keep in mind when answering this question.

Talk about what the companies you’re interviewing with have in common.

Whether you’re interviewing with a dozen other companies or this is your very first interview ever, don’t feel pressured to share exact information about your job search. Instead, find a common theme among the roles and companies you’ve been applying to and use that as a way of highlighting why you’d be a great fit for the position. This is especially helpful if you’re applying for positions in multiple industries since it will show potential employers that you’re passionate about finding a certain kind of role even though you’re flexible about some of the specifics.

Pro Tip: If you’re not interviewing with any other companies, you may want to talk about other jobs you’ve applied to instead (without getting too specific). In that case, you can say something like: “I’m in the early stages of the job search but I’m exploring several opportunities that will allow me to use my social media skills. I’m really excited about finding a position where I can learn a lot and add value to the company’s overall social media strategy.”

Highlight your excitement for this specific position.

Ultimately, interviewers ask this question because they want to gauge your interest in their role and make sure that you’re as interested in the position as the company is in hiring you. To demonstrate your commitment and still make it clear that you’re a valuable candidate who is already on the radar of other employers, be enthusiastic while showing that you do have other opportunities.

Say something like: “I’m interviewing with a few organizations that will allow me to use my social media skills, and I’m excited about finding a position where I can learn a lot and add value to the company’s branding goals. However, I’m particularly interested in the role at your company because it will allow me to make the most of my social media skills while also providing me with growth opportunities, and the ability to work with such an amazing team.”

Answering “What other companies are you interviewing with?” might seem a bit tricky at first, but it’s actually a wonderful opportunity to show that you’ve done your homework on the industry and that you know the position would be the best fit for you. By answering with enthusiasm and confidence, you’ll show the hiring manager that you’re interested in the position not just because you need a job, but because you know this job will be the perfect fit for you.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as Top 10 Things You Should Look For in a Company and find answers to common interview questions such as Are You Willing to Relocate?

How to Answer: If You Could Invest in One Stock, Which Stock Would it Be?

Whether you’re interviewing for a finance internship or entry-level job, you will come across technical interview questions during the process. One popular question you’ll encounter when applying for a job in finance is, “If you could invest in one stock, which stock would it be?” The reason the interviewer asks this question is because they want to analyze your familiarity with the market and get a sense of your logic and reasoning skills.

Here are some things to keep in mind when preparing your answer.

Explain how you would pick the stock.

Even if you don’t have a preferred stock, you’ve likely discussed various stocks and their performance during economics classes or at a previous internship. In order to make sure that you give a comprehensive answer, pick a stock that reflects something about you. For example, if you have high risk tolerance, mention this and explain why it’s a key factor in your decision-making process.

Say something like: “I’m interested in growth because I’m young and my risk tolerance is higher. Companies that pay dividends don’t appeal to me because I don’t need the recurring income, as I have a job to pay my bills. I would rather see companies use money to fuel their growth in the short and long term.”

Pro Tip: When coming up with your answer, it’s important to keep in mind things like stability, growth and past performance. Although you may choose not to talk about these factors when giving your example, they’re likely to come up when the interviewer asks a follow-up question and knowing about them will show that you’re well-informed.

Give a solid reason for your choice.

Once you’ve outlined the factors you look for when picking a stock, explain how you arrived at your decision. It’s important to be specific and to give a sense of how this stock would fit into your overall portfolio. This will show the hiring manager that you’re not only aware of the current state of the market but that you also have long-term goals for your portfolio.

Say something like: “I’m specifically interested in tech, and Netflix recently reported their earnings. They beat estimates on revenue and earnings, but missed widely on new subscriber growth, sending the stock down 16%. I think this signals a great buying opportunity, as Netflix still has a large market to capture abroad, and these headwinds are a short-term issue. Overall, long term I feel the company is well positioned to significantly increase their growth and market share abroad. In conclusion, I wouldn’t want a single stock to be more than 3-5% of my overall portfolio, as it is not advisable to over invest in one specific equity, no matter how bullish I might be.”

Here’s how to bring it all together:

“I’m interested in growth because I’m young and my risk tolerance is higher. Companies that pay dividends don’t appeal to me because I don’t need the recurring income, as I have a job to pay my bills. I would rather see companies use that money to fuel their growth in the short and long term. If we’re looking at today, with all the uncertainty abroad, I would want to stick to a US-based stock, and I feel that with it being an election year, it has brought volatility into the market for opportunistic investments at specific times. I’m specifically interested in tech, and Netflix recently reported their earnings. They beat estimates on revenue and earnings, but missed widely on new subscriber growth, sending the stock down 16%. I think this signals a great buying opportunity, as Netflix still has a large market to capture abroad, and these headwinds are a short-term issue. Overall, long term I feel the company is well positioned to significantly increase their growth and market share abroad. In conclusion, I wouldn’t want a single stock to be more than 3-5% of my overall portfolio, as it is not advisable to over invest in one specific equity, no matter how bullish I might be.”

One key thing to remember is that there is no set response when it comes to determining which stock to invest in. What is important is picking a stock that you can stand behind and convincingly talking about the factors that influenced your decision. This is likely to impress the interviewer and get you one step closer to landing your dream job.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Use a Blog to Apply for an Internship and find answers to common interview questions such as Tell Me About Yourself.

How to Answer: What Would You Accomplish in Your First 30/60/90 Days on the Job?

 One of the more common questions at a job interview is, “What would you accomplish in the first 30, 60, or 90 days on the job?” If this is your first entry-level job, the answer to this question can be hard to anticipate—but it’s not impossible. With proper planning, you can come up with a realistic, honest and enthusiastic answer.

Understand what’s expected during the first three months on the job.

First, let’s take a look at what this question is actually asking. Why the numbers 30, 60 and 90? These numbers correspond to standard cut-offs for your first three months on the job—30 days, 60 days or 90 days. Interviewers ask this question for a number of reasons. They want to see how you think about ramping up in your new role, how fast you’ll complete the onboarding process and what types of goals and standards you hold yourself to, especially in a new environment.

This onboarding period may seem daunting, but it can be an exciting time, too. You will learn a lot about your duties, your supervisor, company culture and workplace etiquette. You also will learn a lot about yourself and how you fit into the larger organization.

Do your research.

Even if you’ve had an internship in the field before, you can’t really know what a job entails until you’ve worked full-time in the role. That doesn’t mean you can’t do your research to get a fuller picture. Here are some ideas for where to look for a dose of realism (and some healthy inspiration):

  • Job listings—Do a quick Google search for similar roles and titles to get a sense of what those responsibilities look like.
  • Employee resumes—Perusing the online resumes of young professionals in your intended field can be invaluable. Resumes provide more in-depth information than company profiles and bios. Again, start with people who are just a couple of years more experienced than you to see what they’ve accomplished.
  • Talk to someone—Arrange an informal meeting with someone in your intended field, preferably someone around your age and experience level. Explain that you would like to get started in the industry and have questions about what to reasonably expect during the first three months and the rest of the first year on the job.

Prepare your answer by outlining your goals for each month.

After you’ve studied up on what you may be doing at your job, think about what you can realistically accomplish during this initial period. What kinds of concrete goals can you set? What projects are you excited to take on? If possible, stick to quantifiable results. Then practice your answer to the interview question. Try to condense your response to 3-4 sentences.

Say something like: “In addition to getting to know the team and getting fully up to speed with the role, there’s a lot I want to accomplish during my first three months in the role of editor. During my first 30 days, I want to get a sense of our blog’s editorial goals and use those to create a new blog design. After 60 days, I want our blog redesign launched and to have at least 50 contributors writing for the website. After 90 days, I want to switch the efforts from building the team to tracking growth, and I’m hoping that we can have 100,000 unique visitors by then through utilizing our marketing channels and those of our contributors.”

Always have a backup answer ready.

If you don’t a clear idea of the exact goals for the position or what you would like to accomplish, there are some things you can touch on that are relevant for almost any role. This can serve as your backup answer and you should always have one ready.

Say something like: “Within 30 days, I plan to get to know the people I’ll be working with the most and to be comfortable with them. Within 60 days, I plan to have a solid understanding of the industry, the company and the competitive landscape so that I can hold my own in any conversation about the company. Within 90 days, I plan to meet the goals that have been set for me.”

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Take an Exit Interview and find answers to common interview questions such as What Are Your Strengths?

How to Answer: Why Did You Choose to Attend This University or College?

“Why did you choose to attend this university or college?” is one of the questions you may encounter during an interview for an entry-level job or internship. This question is designed to help employers understand your values and how you make major life decisions. The key to answering it effectively is showing that you’re proactively thinking about your future career path and that you picked your school after careful consideration.

Here are some things to keep in mind when coming up with your answer.

Talk about what makes your college or university a good fit for you.

Whether you originally picked the school because it offered a great curriculum for your chosen major, had an incredible faculty or was the most affordable school in your state, you likely put some thought into picking the place where you were going to spend the next four years. When preparing your answer, mention one or two key things that led to your decision and show how these things have shaped your experience at the school.

Say something like: “I originally chose to attend XYZ University because ______________. During the time I’ve spent there, I’ve been lucky enough to have access to ______________. My education has given me a solid foundation for a career in _________ and I’m so glad I made the decision to go to school there.”

Pro Tip: If your college or university was your first choice because it was the only school you applied to, don’t mention that. Instead, focus on why it was your only choice. Maybe it offered a comprehensive scholarship program, the campus was close to your hometown or going there was a family tradition. Lead with that and then explain the additional benefits you’ve gained during your time there.

Show how your choice of school connects with your choice of career.

Once you’ve established the process that led you to attend your chosen college or university, connect this back to the job opportunity you’re applying for. If your major doesn’t directly relate to the position, talk about relevant skills you’ve learned through electives or experience you’ve gained through internships. Since employers are interested in how you evaluate opportunities and make decisions, showing that you’ve thoughtfully considered the current opportunity will reassure them that you’re committed to the position and the organization.

Say something like: “The experiences I’ve had at XYZ University have also shaped my decision to apply for this position. I want a role that will allow me to put the things I’ve learned into practice and develop my skills even further. I know that this position would be a good fit for me and I’m excited about the possibility of joining the team.”

Now bring it all together.

“I originally chose to attend XYZ University because ______________. During the time I’ve spent there, I’ve been lucky enough to have access to ______________. My education has given me a solid foundation for a career in _________ and I’m so glad I made the decision to go to school there. The experiences I’ve had at XYZ University have also shaped my decision to apply for this position. I want a role that will allow me to put the things I’ve learned into practice and develop my skills even further. I know that this position would be a good fit for me and I’m excited about the possibility of joining the team.”

Whether you’ve chosen to attend a small liberal arts college or large university, your choice of school can tell an interviewer a lot about you. Answering “Why did you choose to attend this university or college?” is a great opportunity to show the hiring manager that you take big decisions seriously and that you’ve put some serious thought into your college experience and professional career.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Become a Recruiter and find answers to common interview questions such as How Do You Handle Pressure?.

How to Answer: What Type of Environment Do You Prefer?

Along with your experience and skill set, interviews are a chance for potential employers to find out who you are as a person and to get a sense of how well you’ll fit into the company’s work environment. After asking about your educational background and skills, the interviewer will say something like, “So, what type of work environment do you prefer?”

The reason hiring managers ask this question is to assess your compatibility for the position and to find out whether you’re a team player who is able to adapt when necessary. Other versions of this question are, “What type of person do you work well with?” and “What type of person don’t you work well with?”

Here are some tips to help you prepare your answer.

Establish your ideal work environment.

If you’re applying for your first internship or entry-level job, you may not know what your ideal work environment looks like. The first step to answering this question effectively is to figure that out. To do that, think about some great experiences you’ve had working on class projects. Do you prefer to work as part of a large or small team? Do you communicate more effectively in group discussions or by email? Once you’ve identified your personal working style, think about the bigger picture. This refers to things like work-life balance or the company’s mission. Focus on what motivates and what you’d like your professional life to look like, then look for roles at companies that have those qualities.

Research the company culture.

Since cultural fit is one of the most important things employers look for when hiring, this is a great chance to show that you know a lot about the company and that you would fit in well as part of the team. For example, does the company seem to have a lot of happy hours or cohesive team meetings? If so, talk about how much you enjoy those types of activities and any experiences you’ve had in similar environments in the past.

Pro Tip: If you don’t know much about the company culture, mentioning that you work well in fast-paced and collaborative environments is a great place to start. These are usually good attributes to include because most companies, especially smaller companies, consider themselves fast-paced and most jobs are collaborative in nature.

Be honest, but flexible.

Once you’ve established your familiarity with the company and shown that you would be a good culture fit, talk about one of two things that make a work environment great for you. For example, if you are someone who prefers to work alone most of the time, it’s okay to say that as long as you also demonstrate commitment to the team and a willingness to collaborate with your coworkers on a regular basis. This is especially important if the role is described as cross-functional in the job description.

Say something like: “I love a fast-paced environment where I can have a collaborative relationship with the people around me and develop my skill set by learning from other members of the team. Although I do my best work on my own in a quiet atmosphere, I really enjoy grabbing coffee with team members in my spare time and running through ideas together.”

Answering “What type of environment do you thrive in?” with thoughtful examples is a great way of demonstrating that you understand the company culture and are flexible enough to adapt to change. Whether you’re comfortable in a fast-paced environment or a more relaxed one, finding a way to highlight your unique qualities and connect them with a role will show potential employers that you’re the candidate they’ve been looking for.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as Top 5 Tools for Digital Marketing and find answers to common interview questions such as Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years?.

How to Answer: Tell Me About a Challenge You Had to Overcome in the Workplace

 This is a tough question because you’re forced to talk about a difficult time with a complete stranger. Fortunately, it’s also a great opportunity to turn a big challenge into a great accomplishment. In fact, we like to think of it as a related question to “Tell me about an accomplishment you’re proud of.” Why do employers ask this question? It’s because they want to know that they’re hiring someone who has the ability to think on their feet and who is resilient when facing challenges.

When answering this question, start by giving context for the situation and then showing how you worked out a solution to the problem. Try to keep your answer short and focused. After all, the interviewer is really looking for what you took away from the situation and doesn’t need to know the full backstory of what happened. If you need help structuring your answer, remember this acronym: S.T.A.R. It stands for situation, task, action, and result.

Here’s what they each mean and how you can use them effectively.

Situation

First, articulate to your interviewer the situation you were in so that they have context. What was the problem and how did it come up? In one or two sentences, create a clear picture so that hiring manager is able to visualize the challenge. If possible, keep things professional by focusing only on problems that have come up in class or at a previous job.

Say something like: “During my summer internship at a public relations firm, a client suddenly wanted to change an entire campaign strategy two days before launch. The client was unhappy with my team’s first draft, so we were tasked with redoing the entire plan.”

Task

Talk about the task at hand and tell your interviewer what each person was responsible for doing, so that they get a sense of how you fit into the team. You don’t have to go into a lot of detail but do set the scene with one or two sentences about the roles everyone played in the project.

Say something like: “We organized a late-night brainstorm that evening. After hours of work, I asked to take the lead on putting together a new deck. This was challenging because it was my first time putting a deck together and also our one chance to make the client happy again.”

Action

Once you’re done setting the scene, explain the actions involved in overcoming the challenge. Talk about your thought process and the steps you took to solve the problem. Again, one or two sentences is all you need to convey this.

Say something like: “I overcame this challenge by looking at previously successful presentations for the client, analyzing the feedback they gave on our initial presentation and incorporating all of the team’s ideas into the new deck.”

Result

While you should be honest and speak about a true challenge you’ve faced, be sure to end on a positive note so that your interviewer sees you as a proactive problem solver and a team player. Quantify your results if possible. It’s a great way to demonstrate the impact you’ve had on a project or company, and it lets the interviewer know that you’re focused on results.

Say something like: “The client was ultimately thrilled with the fresh plan, and all of the new ideas we included!”

Here’s how to tie this all together:

“During my summer internship at a public relations firm, a client suddenly wanted to change an entire campaign strategy two days before launch. The client was unhappy with my team’s first draft, so we were tasked with redoing the entire plan. We organized a late-night brainstorm that evening. After hours of work, I asked to take the lead on putting together a new deck. This was challenging because it was my first time putting a deck together and also our one chance to make the client happy again. I overcame this challenge by looking at previously successful presentations for the client, analyzing the feedback they gave on our initial presentation and incorporating all of the team’s ideas into the new deck. The client was ultimately thrilled with the fresh plan, and all of the new ideas we included!”

Answering “Tell me about a challenge you’ve overcome” is a great way to show potential employers that you’re able to think on your feet and to solve a problem effectively. This is a skill that interviewers are looking for in all of the candidates they hire and answering this common interview question effectively will serve you well at interviews for both internships and entry-level jobs.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as How to Find an Internship as an Underclassman and find answers to common interview questions such as How Would Your Friends Describe You?.