As a part of our Fords on Friday series, we have asked a current senior to give a peer-to-peer perspective of the job search and tips on interviewing.
Welcome Arman Terzian, HC ’14 as today’s CCPA guest blogger!
My name is Arman Terzian and I’m a senior Pre-Med English major who just went through the job application process. I learned, first hand, that a lot of work goes into finding and getting the right job for you. First, you have to search the internet, speak with family, friends and alumni, and maybe even read a few books to figure out what kind of jobs meet your criteria for a successful and fulfilling career path. Before I figured out my interest in healthcare management consulting, I spoke with consultants, healthcare policy makers, physicians, social workers and healthcare administrators. My past internship experiences led me to develop an interest in gaining the broadest perspective on the healthcare industry I could, and my conversations with people in many different healthcare industry sectors led me to believe that consulting was a great way to get a broad, yet deep, overview of how healthcare delivery in the United States functions.
My job search, of course, did not stop with just figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. I had to think about where I wanted to live, what companies I wanted to apply to, send out applications, hope employers would want to interview me, and then prepare for my job interviews. I’d like to use the last couple hundred words of this blog post to share my job interview experience. While my interview prep may seem specific to consulting jobs, I try and offer advice anyone could use for any job.
First, I felt like I should gain an understanding of how the interview process works for my specific industry. In order to figure out how consulting interviews worked firsthand, I was in contact with Haverford Alumni working in healthcare management consulting and researched the consulting interview process online. I reached out to Alumni using fords.haverford.edu and looked through the career guides Vault has on their website (accessible for free through this link: cdoapps.haverford.edu/resources/internet/). Advice you gain through Vault’s guides for consulting and interviews in other industries does contain accurate interview information and provides a great overview of any industry’s typical interviews. Yet, The Vault guides will not give you the same type of guidance that Haverford Alumni and their real life interview stories and experiences will. Alumni, in any and all industries, have dealt with interviewers who don’t show any willingness to help you out, interviewers who look at their phones, who ask tough questions you didn’t prepare for, etc. - and their advice will help you deal with those curve balls in ways the general interview overview the Vault career guide provides will not.
My next step, after learning about my industry’s typical interview process, was to contact the CCPA and continue using the internet to find out some typical interview questions people would ask someone applying for a consulting job. Glassdoor.com, an online employer database, offers sample interview questions job applicants or current employees post. Consulting jobs use both behavioral and case interview questions. Many other jobs will also use behavioral interview questions to assess how you respond to stressful or ethically ambiguous situations. In addition to learning what questions people will ask during the interview process, it’s helpful to figure out the best way to respond. Many Alumni and online resources suggest you use the “STAR” format, an acronym for Situation, Task, Action and Response. If someone asks about a time you dealt with conflict on a team, you describe the situation, the task you had to undertake to solve the problem, how you performed the task, and whether or not the conflict you dealt with was resolved. For case interviews, I read Michael Porter’s book “Competitive Strategy,” Marc Cosentino’s case interview guide “Case In Point,” practiced case interviews with friends, and contacted alumni who were at times able to set me up with a current employee for a practice case interview.
Believe it or not, I followed the advice I gave and managed to land a job at The Advisory Board Company, a healthcare consulting firm based in Washington D.C. that works with top hospitals and health systems throughout the country. I got my job interview through networking and had a total of four interviews throughout the Advisory Board Company application process. My first interview was a “phone screen,” where they asked behavioral interview questions and also some more casual questions like: Why did you choose Haverford over other schools? After making it past the first round, my three final rounds included both case and behavioral interviews.
I believe, other than giving myself three months to prepare for the interviews and networking extensively, that the best thing I did throughout my interview process was act like myself. At first, I thought a good interview required a purely professional, and therefore serious, approach. Yet, while anyone must act professionally, showing some humor and an easygoing personality will make an interview a lot more comfortable for both yourself and the person speaking with you and likely more successful.