Competitive Interviewing: A Student Q&A

Competitive Interviewing: A Student Q&A   

The following Q&A occurred with sophomore, William Sullivan, a Marketing major who applied for the Alumni Association Student Board (AASB)

What were your expectations interviewing for AASB? Compared to reality?

Honestly, I was not sure what to expect when interviewing for AASB. I knew that it would be challenging, and that there would be lots of cuts so I was prepared not to be selected. I expected an essay and at least one interview and a final one where they made selections. I thought it would be intense every round and that the people would expect you to have a flawless answer to every question asked.

In reality, the process was less daunting. The members of AASB just wanted to get to know you on a personal level, and see if you were committed to having an impact in the organization. They didn’t ask for a resume or tons of experience; instead, they looked for a story. My experience was more laid back than I thought, the laughter and smiles made it easier for me to show my true self.

How did you prepare for each round? How many rounds were there? 

To prepare for the formal interviews, I practiced answering questions that I have received from other interviews in the past. Questions about why I chose Mizzou, diversity & inclusion, what do I bring to the table for the organization, and of course, why I wanted to join AASB. I also prepared by constantly reminding myself to be genuine throughout the rounds, and not cater my answers to what I thought they’d want to hear. In total, there were three rounds: a paper cut, a group interview, a meet and greet, then a final round where they decided on the new member class.

What were some things you were confident about going into the interview? Weaknesses?
I was confident about my involvement on campus and the transferable skills I’ve developed from each of them. I also knew that I would be fine meeting new people each rounds, and being as personable as I could with each one. A weakness for me was that sometimes I get flustered when I don’t know how to answer a question, and end up oversharing or not saying enough. But, I ended up doing okay for the most part during my interviews because the members made me feel welcomed and comfortable.

How did you feel when you found out that you were selected into the organization?
When I received the call saying that I was selected, I was surprised, but also very relieved. After my last round, I thought they would pick a different student since there were so many other great candidates. Thankfully, I was among the other 17 members selected.

If you were to give someone advice on how to best present themselves in a competitive interview, what would say?
As predictable as it sounds, I would say to always stay true to yourself in any interview you have. It may seem like the interviewers want you to say certain things, however, a majority of them just want to learn about you. You wouldn’t want to put on a facade, because then that means they didn’t select you because of your characteristics, but the ones you created for the interview. Also make sure you come in with a smile and let them know how excited you are to have that opportunity.

In the future, would you participate in a competitive/group interview again? Why, why not? 
In the future, I would participate in another competitive and group interview. I’m a firm believer that everything is a blessing or a lesson. If you are offered the role or position after the interview, that means that you were an exceptional candidate and had a solid interview. If you were not selected, you have the chance to reflect on your interview and find ways to make yourself more competitive for the next interview.
For more help on preparing for interviews, check out our MU Career Center and Mizzou Career Tools