5 Rules To Help You Ace Your Leadership Development Program Interview was originally published on WayUp.
Are you considering a Leadership Development Program for your first or second job after graduation? If not, then maybe you should.
In case you’re not familiar with them, here’s a quick primer: Leadership Development Programs are rotational management and technical training programs that expose you to a variety of entry-level roles at a company. Apart from providing a range of hands-on experiences, they also help prepare you for a leadership position when the program is complete. They’re basically a fast-track route to a successful career in a field you’re passionate about.
That’s particularly true at Thermo Fisher Scientific—the world leader in serving science—where these programs are incredible opportunities to receive mentorship, network with senior leaders, and pick up the kind of experience necessary for those interested in management positions. Essentially, they’re incubators for the future leaders of the company.
Thermo Fisher’s Leadership Development Programs represent, at their core, a major investment in you on the part of the company. That’s why they pick their candidates for Leadership Development Programs so carefully. But that doesn’t mean you have to be intimidated by the recruitment process. You just need to prepare carefully so you can put your best foot forward. So, where do you begin and how can you stand out while interviewing for an opportunity that can change the course of your career?
To find out exactly what they’re looking for in their LDP candidates, we spoke to Hannah, a Thermo Fisher recruiter.
Here are her tips for surviving (and thriving) on the road to securing your spot in an LDP.
1. You’re More Than Just Your Work Experience, So Let Them Know That
The reason you got an interview is because the recruiting team liked your resume. Remember, then, that the first interview is a chance for you to show them more than what’s on there. Don’t miss it.
Your resume told the recruiting team about your work and internship experience. While it’s important to use that experience as a base for some of your answers, you should also take the opportunity to go deeper.
The point of this interview, whether it’s in person or on the phone, is to show them a bit of who you are as an individual. Sticking too much to the script of your resume can be a major misstep. But, as Hannah stresses, there are ways to avoid that pitfall.
“One of the biggest things I see that people are missing is centered around their leadership experience,” Hannah says.
Given your experience level, chances are, you haven’t had too many opportunities to take on leadership roles at work. However, school organizations, extracurriculars, and even classroom projects are all great examples of places where you could have exhibited leadership skills. Regardless of what the leadership experience revolves around, the ability to demonstrate your potential is extremely valuable.
2. Definitely Prepare, But Don’t Over-Rehearse Your Answers (AKA Speak Naturally)
In any job interview, the recruiter or hiring manager wants to get a better sense of who you actually are—especially when they’re making such a major investment in you. That’s why over-preparation can actually hurt you.
“One of the things that we see that shoots people in the foot when they’re interviewing is that their answers seem really scripted and almost too perfect,” Hannah says. “And for us, that doesn’t give a sense of who they are. It doesn’t feel authentic. It doesn’t feel genuine.”
It’s true that you want to present the best possible version of yourself, but don’t let that rob your answers of you. Even if you prepared for a question, there’s no harm in taking a moment to think about your answer and move in a different direction. Speak from the heart, because according to Hannah, that’s what they’re hoping you’ll do.
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Talk About Mistakes You’ve Made—Just Do It Tactfully
Many important interview questions focus on how you’d respond to various scenarios, both real and imagined.
“We ask a lot of behavioral-based questions on leadership, because a lot of what we do at Thermo Fisher gives people responsibility and allows people to make decisions and take risks,” Hannah says.
When the stakes are as high as they are in an LDP, the company needs to know how you act under pressure. However, that doesn’t mean they want you to only describe a situation or tell them about a time when everything went perfectly. Why? Because even if it’s true, it doesn’t really demonstrate the kind of adaptability and self-awareness that they’re looking for at Thermo Fisher.
“We really want to see how you took a situation that you maybe struggled in and how did you come out from that? Answering around self-awareness is key instead of just feeling like all of these answers have to be perfect,” she adds.
Self-awareness and adaptability are hard to teach and extremely important for people who plan to grow a lot over the course of their time at a company—which is essential for any successful LDP candidate. That’s why emphasizing adaptability and how you respond to mistakes is so important.
Don’t gloss over these learnings—talk about them and emphasize the lessons you learned that’ll help prevent you from making the same mistakes again. That kind of self-reflection shows real growth, maturity, and potential.
4. As You Progress, Make Sure To Up Your Research Game And Come With Thoughtful Questions
The interview for an LDP at Thermo Fisher is a multistep process, and it’s as much about you getting to know them as it is the opposite. That’s why it’s okay to ask exploratory questions about the company early on.
“I think for that first recruiter conversation, it’s okay to come in and ask questions,” Hannah says. “But I think the biggest mistake that I see a lot of times is, once they get past that first round and they move on to that next step, they haven’t done enough research.”
After that initial conversation, you’ll advance to an on-campus interview with a hiring manager or an LDP graduate who is now a leader at the company. And it’s essential to come prepared. As the interviews progress, don’t rest on your laurels.
“You don’t have to come in knowing everything. But find a recent article about something Thermo Fisher did in the news or in the community or maybe about one of our acquisitions, and then ask questions about that,” Hannah explains.
“That shows our leadership team that you’re interested and that you’re curious. Curiosity is such an important quality in an interview process because it shows that you’re going to be curious when you come to work every day. It shows that you’re going to challenge the norm and ask questions and bring 110 percent every day,” she says.
By the time you get to the last round of interviews (a two-day event at the company’s headquarters in Waltham, MA), you should have a few good talking points ready for any conversation you might have with a leader.
5. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Your Recruiter For Advice
After you pass the first-round phone interview, your recruiter is there to be your ally. After all, they chose you to enter the process and they have a vested interest in your success.
“If you’re curious about something and you’re not sure, reach out to your recruiter and ask them. ‘Is the manager going to want to see a cover letter? Are they going to want references?’ I can always answer that,” Hannah says.
If there are any administrative questions you have about timing, location, or the format of interviews, you don’t have to worry about bothering the hiring manager by asking. Just follow up with your recruiter and they’ll get back to you with the info you need. They can even answer some broader questions like, “What kinds of traits does the hiring manager look for in their top candidates?”
“If you’re ever curious about what kinds of things you should include in your application or bring to an interview, definitely ask your recruiter,” Hannah adds. “Because they’re almost like your secret agent and they know what that manager is looking for and how to best prepare you, so definitely lean on them.”Think you’re ready to apply for a role at Thermo Fisher? Check out open opportunities from Thermo Fisher Scientific on WayUp!
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