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Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

By Paige Bosworth (’13, MBA ’17)

In my role as Marketing Manager at Hanesbrands, I am often a part of interview committees seeking to hire student interns and recent grads for positions across our marketing organization. After dozens of interviews, I’ve learned how the most prepared candidates show up. To demystify this process, I’m sharing three easy to remember best practices to help you understand what we’re really looking for in your answers. Here’s your inside perspective from an interviewer!

Know thyself.

“So, tell me about yourself.”

Why is it that we know this question is coming, and yet it always feels so difficult to answer?

This isn’t just a generic, throw-away question – it is intentionally open-ended to see where you take it.  Have a story mapped out that is meaningful but also succinct.  The interviewer has likely glanced over your resume so hit the highlights and then add something more personal – hobbies that you like to do, favorite class you’ve taken so far, or even your favorite product from the company you are interviewing with.

You can also bet that you will be asked, “Why are interested in [insert company]?”

This is an opportunity to share why you and the company align.  It is also a chance to show that you’ve done your homework.  Look at the company’s mission and values, and tie it back to your own.  You can also draw upon recent work, news, or initiatives that have come out of the company as an example of your shared interests.

Essentially, we want to know, Who are you? and Why are you here? Having an outline for these questions ahead of time will help you start strong and set a confident tone for the rest of the interview.

 Transferrable skills are your best friends.

Interviewers understand that you are a current student or recent graduate. We do not have any expectation that you have the experience that comes with three years in the industry – but we are looking to see how you demonstrate these key traits:

How do you approach being part of a team?  Talk about a group project. Tell us about the role you played within the group, and how you communicate and collaborate towards a common goal.

How have you displayed leadership?  Speak about time when you captained an intramural team or chaired a club committee. Tell us about your leadership style and the ways you contributed to your groups’ success.

What kind of technical skills do you have?  Of course, you can draw upon other internship experiences, but you can also refer to a specific class project or a case competition.

Behavioral questions can feel difficult to prep for, but one way to help prepare your answers is to start with a list.  Outline any classes, projects, and extracurricular activities and then list any corresponding stories with the key character traits that each example highlights.

Be sure to change up the examples you use throughout the interview. You want to ensure that the interviewer can get to know the most about you during the short time you have together.

Feeling unsure about which traits to highlight?  To get a better sense of what a company is after, look at the job description.  If the company mentions that they are looking for someone who is a self-starter, have an example where you demonstrated that attribute.

Take advantage of the OPCD and APCDC.

Seriously.  The resources that Wake Forest offers to their students and alumni are not a given at every school.  Taking advantage of resume reviews or mock interviews can help you really stand out amongst other applicants.  Interviewers can tell how much you have prepared, so give yourself the leg-up and make yourself an appointment with the OPCD or APCDC. You have access to this invaluable asset. Why not use it?