Newsletter volume 2 number 4
These days, future MBAs learn more in the classroom than accounting and marketing. Many prestigious business schools those at NYU and Duke University among them now offer courses in interviewing, career planning, and networking as part of their regular curricula. Other schools are dramatically upgrading the coaching that has traditionally been offered by their placement offices.
At Stanford, for instance, recent alumni from a variety of arenas (consulting, high tech, investment banking, packaged goods) are invited back to conduct interview sessions with current students. This gives students an opportunity to experience the kinds of questions they will face in real interviews and to get feedback on their performances. Many sessions are videotaped so that interviewees can also assess their own skills.
In short, the days when interviewers are better trained than applicants in sophistication and expertise are gone; today's job candidates have skills as polished as their appearances. This means that interviewers cannot afford to be complacent about their own abilities. Nor can they automatically assume they are accurately reading an applicant's qualifications when in fact they may simply be matching techniques with him or her.
Interviewer complacency may increase when recruiters are looking for only one or two competencies in a candidate. The narrower the focus, the easier it is for a smart candidate to feed an interviewer all the right responses. (Also see Competency Chasers in this issue.)
The bottom line is that recruiters need to stay at least one step ahead of students in an interview. If they can't, it may be time for them to go back to class to polish up their own techniques.