Preparing for interviews – in general

Interviews require a lot of preparation - there are no short cuts. Even if you are eventually lucky enough to just have an informal chat with an employer, you will feel more confident walking into the room if you have prepared. Preparation should start at the application stage so that you are ready if you are invited to an interview at the last minute.

1 CV – pitch yourself

“Tell me something about yourself” is the usual invitation to pitch yourself and your experience in less than two minutes. So, have it well prepared as this is also an important tool for career networking [link zu dem Artikel]. It’s the story behind your CV and aims to getting a glimpse on your experience and motivation – so, what brought you here in the end? Keep it short, relevant and catchy, and leave room for questions. Practice this before you attend the interview – with your friends but also with your career advisor.

2 Competency

Competency-based questions are based on the skills required for the role. They revolve around your past experiences and the evidence you give at the interview. Most will require you to give an example of how you have solved a problem in the workplace, for instance.

Learn the STAR approach to help you formulate your answers to example-based questions.

Situation – Background (just a few sentences)
Task – A specific problem you had to solve (just a few sentences)
Action  - What you did to resolve the problem (the majority of your answer). How you did it. Your thought processes and rationale.
Result – The positive outcome (just a few sentences)

Your answer should last 2-3 minutes. Avoid using academic experiences, instead choosing from internships, societies/associations, sports, charity work, music etc. Expect follow up questions: what would you do differently? What did you learn?

3 Motivation

Why do you want the role? You need to show an understanding of what the job entails. Read the job description and ask previous interns, alumni, or your career advisor.

Why do you want to work for that company in particular? How does it differ from its competitors?

Learn the company’s Past (heritage, important mergers, etc.), Present (current share price, areas of expertise, culture, recent deals, etc.), and Future (what are its plans?  Any new launches, offices, markets?)

4 What skills will you bring to the position?

 Don’t just merely list skills, rather show where you gained them and give examples of how you have used them. Stick to the skills relevant to the role.

 5 Technical & Market Knowledge

At an interview, you need to show that you are motivated for the role and industry. That will impress a potential employer.

  • Investment Banking – Corporate finance, current market conditions (exchange rates, share prices, etc.), recent trends.
  • Accountancy – Any formulas (costing, P&Ls, etc.)
  • Consultancy – Industry knowledge, market trends

Marketing – know your SWOT and PEST. Have an idea of what you would like to bring to the role, budget ideas and think of recent campaigns you liked/disliked.

6 Brainteasers

These can be logical questions asking you to solve a cryptic problem or market sizing estimate.

Learn demographics and measurements to help you with the guestimates. There is no right or wrong, just how you get there.  

For both types, always share your logic with the interviewer.

As there are dozens of apps for rehearsing brainteasers, download one and rehearse, whenever you have a moment, like when you are queuing for coffee.

7 Have examples ready

Think of 5 or 6 examples that highlight difficult situations you have overcome. These can be projects, team, research, influencing, communication, planning, and analytical challenges you have faced.

For consulting interviews or interview with ex-consultants, you should prepare stories for telling about your greatest success, how you created impact, how you demonstrated leadership, and what your greatest achievement is. The stories should ideally be from your internships but may also be from your leisure time activities (voluntary work, engagement in sports etc.).

8 Rehearse but don't over rehearse

Have answers prepared but don’t just memorize them. You need to be flexible and tailor your answer according to each question.

9 Pay attention to your interviewer

Interviews are not usually about tricking the candidate. They are there to get the best from you and learn about your experiences. Therefore, you need to listen to the questions and the pointers the interviewer gives you throughout the interview. Please, also make sure that you have eye contact. If there is more than one interviewer, keep eye contact with each of them, even if they don’t ask any questions. Also, smile when appropriate.

If you happen to know the interviewer’s name in beforehand, you may have a look at his/her LinkedIn profile in order to get a first impression.

10 Ask appropriate questions (and keep away from inappropriate ones)

Ask questions about the job and specifically questions related to something you have researched which you want to know more about. Here is your chance to show your motivation and knowledge. One or two questions at the end of the interview are enough. Don’t ask about salary or benefits, and don’t ask very personal questions.


Preparing for interviews: Making a good impression in video interviews

 A lot of companies have started using video interviews in the recruitment process, and you should be prepared for this. Candidates are generally asked questions and expected to pre-record their answers with their laptops at home within a certain time frame. Being the first step in the recruitment process, these interviews are very important.

Tips for performing well in video interviews:

  • Dress as smartly as you would for a face-to-face interview
  • Create a silent environment – lock the door and mute your mobile phone
  • Be aware of your environment – make sure the light is adequate and you don’t have any inappropriate posters on the wall behind you or piles of dirty clothes on your bed.
  • Be well prepared – if you are nervous, make notes in advance to keep yourself focused
  • Try not to stutter or use a lot of “ehs” or “mmhs” (a good way of knowing if you do this is to record yourself first as a test run and listen back)
  • Give yourself plenty of time. Don’t wait until two hours before the deadline! Companies can be flexible with the deadlines if you have an exam pending, for example, so ask first before rushing
  • Be well-rested and train your voice a little bit in advance (e.g. with singing)
  • Expect the unexpected. Video Interviews sometimes have more unusual questions (e.g., Who is your business hero? What brand best describes you? What song lyric describes you?)  If asked these questions, look calm and take a few seconds to think of the best answer. Try to be original, be true to yourself and most importantly show that you are happy to take on the challenging question.

Practice before you take the interview.  You can do this in front of the mirror or film yourself before the real test so you can see how you are coming across.



Tips from our companies

"During the interview phase, you can convince us by preparing properly and by clearly stating, why you want to join BearingPoint. Show your passion for your desired position and according topics and prepare questions for us as well – we appreciate topic related discussions and want to be in dialogue with you."


"Of course, you should always inform yourself about the company via the Internet. From this, you will be able to formulate some questions which you can ask in the interview. Remember to make your interest in the position and the company clear. Last but not least, you should always have an answer to the "classic" interview questions (e.g. strengths & weaknesses)."


"Our interviews are aimed at getting to know you personally and at obtaining an impression of your problem solving skills. To ensure that these interviews are a success, you should be able to provide us with convincing reasons as to why you are the right candidate. Furthermore, you should familiarize yourself with how to solve case studies. We also recommend the interactive case-study online platform PrepLounge."


“My advice is to find out as much as you can about EY beforehand and use the opportunity to ask us questions. After all, just like us, you want to find out if you and EY are a good fit for each other. Apart from that, just be yourself. That’s the best way to win us over.”


"Please inform yourself about Bayer and Business Consulting and be prepared for any questions, related to our Life Science Business. Furthermore case interviews will be part of the recruiting day, prepare yourself for those interviews and convince us with your great personality!"


"What is your favourite question in interviews?"


"Which qualities do you personally possess to lead a team?"


"Be prepared for questions about your team experiences, give us examples!"


"When preparing for the interviews with our recruiters, we recommend you to prepare according to the STAR model: Situation - Did you have to deal with complicated customers? Describe the situation; Task - Which tasks did you have to complete? Action - Which action did you have to take?; Result - What was the result of these actions?"


"As part of the recruiting process you will have to show your personal fit and business understanding in case interviews as well as analytical skills in an analytical test. You should and can prepare for solving case studies – look out for the manifold training opportunities and specialized books online."


“Our job is so much about teamwork, personal development and (self-) reflection that I like to ask about the most important feedback received from others and also given to others.”


“Why do you think you are a good match for DHL Consulting?”