Make the Interview a Mere Formality

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

When I received my offer as a Leadership Development Rotational Program Intern at Medtronic, the Medtronic MBA Campus Recruiter said, “We’ve had the opportunity to get to know you over the past year. We like you. We want you. Your interview was simply a formality.” On-campus recruiting can be one of the most stressful periods of your first year of b-school. At Carlson, you and your 100 colleagues are competing for a limited number of internship spots – tears are shed, congratulatory hugs are given, and career paths questioned. But on-campus recruiting doesn’t have to be stressful! Extinguish your stress-level by landing your internship before interviews even start by building personal brand advocates within your target companies.

What MBA Recruiters won’t tell you is that they are keeping score of your performance, passion, and people-skills months before you sit down with them for an interview. The issue is, MBA Recruiters are not just interviewing you, MBA recruiters are interviewing Carlson alumni at their own company about you. Networking to make a good impression on Carlson alumni at your target company is an essential part of landing an internship – in the least; it can make the interview process less stressful.
I was building a following of personal brand advocates within Medtronic fourteen months before the company held on-campus interviews. Leading up to and during the interview process, my personal brand advocates reached out to the Medtronic MBA Campus Recruiter stating that I would be a great fit for the company. Each recommendation from a Carlson alumnus at Medtronic functioned as a vote in my favor. Below is my six-step solution to landing your dream internship,

1)    Find your connectors: identify those individuals at Carlson and at your target company who have extensive networks within your target company. Start with second-year students who interned at the company and the GBCC. Ask these connectors who you should meet with at your target company.
2)    Lead with your passion and then impress: companies want passionate AND intelligent people. When you meet with a potential personal brand advocate, share your passion for the work that they do. Then show them that you did your homework and that you have a formidable knowledge base in their area of work (this is to say, “do your homework beforehand.”)
3)    Be intentional: State your intentions during the meeting or in a follow-up email after your meeting. Be clear and concise. Say the words, “I want to work for your company” so that there is no ambiguity about your intentions. 
4)    Collect votes: do not ask your personal brand advocate to put in a good word for you. Instead, make such a good impression that they feel compelled to do so. Then, convert another potential personal brand advocate.
5)    Track your relationship status: not joking, build an excel sheet that allows you to track your relationships and touch points with personal brand advocates at your target company. 
6)    Meet with the On-campus MBA Recruiter: this person is the gatekeeper for your job. Do not meet with the On-campus MBA Recruiter until they are aware of your reputation through your personal brand advocates and you are confident that you are a perfect fit for your target company. This is the most important meeting before your interview.

The ultimate goal of your MBA is to land your dream job. While school and grades are important, remember to spend a generous amount of time working toward your main goal and to make the on-campus interview a mere formality.