Graduate Blog / Graduate Life

Preparing for Interviews & Closing the Deal – A Recruiter’s Perspective

Jane O’Neil is Vice President of Recruiting at Arnold Worldwide and a current member of Graduate CCD’s Employer Advisory Board. Jane is dedicated to the candidate experience and involved in the full cycle of recruiting. Her talent acquisition expertise encompasses nearly all agency functions, from marketing and strategy, to project management and integrated production. She has been at Arnold Worldwide for 17 years and enjoys interacting with Babson’s Graduate School through her engagement with the board. I was thrilled to have her share some of her expertise on recruiting with great tips for MS/MBA candidates to consider when getting ready to apply, interview, and close the deal with a firm like hers.

1. What attracts you to hire from Babson?

The entrepreneurial spirit that is cultivated at Babson continues to attract me to candidates from Babson, as it is very much a match with Arnold’s culture. With Babson candidates, I know that they will be able to think on their feet, problem solve and nimbly handle whatever comes their way. These qualities are essential for success at Arnold and I would imagine, many agencies and companies, especially during these challenging times.

2. What is your interview process typically like for MBA/MS level roles?

Depending upon what the specific role is, an MBA/MS candidate can expect to interview with 4-6 Arnold team members, for thoughtful and informative interviews. Our interview style is very down-to-earth, conversational and candid, designed to get to know the candidate as much as possible in a fairly short amount of time, and assess their chance for success at Arnold. With specific Strategy roles, there may be a case study component, which would include a candidate outlining their thought process to a real life business question and then presenting to a small group of team members, followed by a brief question and answer session. We’re very cognizant of not having candidates provide unpaid thought leadership, so the case is always designed for the candidate to directionally share their approach, not engage in deep, time consuming research and analysis.

3. What do you wish graduate students would do better in the hiring and interviewing process?

I wish that graduate students would do a better job of being able to tell their own stories authentically. It has sometimes been my experience that candidates are over prepared in the sense of almost memorizing aspects of the agency or company that the interviewer already knows, in an effort to demonstrate how prepared they are. What would be so much more valuable would be to share in a clear, concise and interesting manner, why they are interested in a particular role, what skills and experience they bring and what it is about the role that most excites them. That’s unique to each candidate and it is what most often serves as the differentiator for me in candidate selection.

4. How should students express their interest in your firm? (informational interviews?)

I think it’s a fine idea to request an informational interview, and then be patient and flexible with how the hiring manager or recruiter respond. Perspective is such a powerful tool in this case, in terms of understanding that an informational interview may be your priority, but it is not necessarily the employer’s priority. This is another opportunity to clearly and succinctly share why you’re interested in the agency/company and what unique skills and experience you would bring. It goes without saying that if you are granted an informational interview, come prepared with several thoughtful questions, not a multitude, but several. Being able to communicate a genuine interest in the responses shared by the interviewer, is key here as well; don’t just go through the motions and ask standard questions. If you’re not offered an informational interview, sharing your resume and interest over LinkedIn is fine, or if you happen to have the employer’s professional contact information, you can send a resume and brief note there as well.

5. What is the best method for following up with a recruiter/hiring manager if the student has not heard back?

If the recruiter doesn’t automatically share what the timing to fill the role is, what the steps of the interview process are and when the candidate should expect to hear back, then the candidate should definitely ask…and then plan accordingly. If you don’t know the exact timing when you will hear after interviewing for a role, I would reach out after one week. If you don’t hear at that point, I would reach out two days later. I think that it’s a fine line to demonstrate interest and a command of the process, but you definitely don’t want to appear too aggressive in your follow-up. Additionally, I would always address timing questions to the recruiter and not other members of the hiring team. That way, you are receiving a streamlined, singular response, versus potentially contradictory information.