Groundhog Day Interview Tips

You know, Groundhog Day has to be the most peculiar holiday I know of, if you can even call it one. As a kid, I was absolutely mesmerized that there was a groundhog, pretty much a gigantic chipmunk, that had the supernatural ability to know winter doesn’t end in early February. (If you don’t know at all what I’m talking about you are in for quite a learning experience when you google this holiday). For many people when they think of Groundhog Day they think of the movie where Bill Murray repeats that one day of his life over and over and over. I get a somewhat similar feeling, like a bit of déjà vu, when I walk through the E52 lobby and I see people about to interview for the MFin program. My interview doesn’t quite feel like it happened yesterday, but there are a few tips I’d be able to give to prospective students.

First of all, it’s important to remember that when Punxsutawney Phil is brought out for his interview, no one is expecting anything extraordinary. Likewise, the fact that you’re interviewing at MIT means you’re already impressive, so just be confident about yourself and honest about your accomplishments.

Next, if Punxsutawney Phil was interviewing for the MFin program he would probably want to have answers to a few questions that you should expect. Why do you want this degree? Why this program at MIT in particular? And how does having this degree get you from where you are now to where you want to be in your career? The answers may seem like no-brainers to you, but I recommend you go ahead and write the answers out. Having a ready and coherent response to the easy and obvious questions will help keep you calm and make you both look and feel more confident during the interview.

Finally, just be yourself. Just kidding. That advice is in every list of interview tips and it’s completely infuriating, right? My real final tip is that most of the questions I remember for my MIT interview were behavioral or biographical. I know I was expecting a lot of technical questions or brain-teasers, since this is MIT, but I don’t think you’ll get that. The interview process may have changed a bit since last year, so I can’t guarantee anything, but you won’t have to stay up all night memorizing finance formulas or creating a stock pitch because you just won’t be asked about that.

So those are my interview tips. Best of luck to those prospective students interviewing this month and Happy Groundhog Day! Well Groundhog Day was actually yesterday since I took too long to post this…or was it…things today seem oddly similar…

Michael Donnelly

Michael is an MFin student class of 2017. Before enrolling at MIT Michael spent three years as a research assistant at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, DC. Besides finance, his interests include art, ancient history, and cooking (although not that well).

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1 Comment

  1. Harriet Barnett

    Mike: The interview format is still the same — much more of a conversation and not a finance quiz. And I guess Phil says we’re going to have six more weeks of winter
    this year, but there hasn’t been tremendous amounts of snow, so we can’t complain.

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