How to Prepare for an Interview at Vanguard

Not sure what to expect for your first interview at Vanguard? Whether it’s a phone screen, or an in-person interview on one of our campuses, the below tips will give you a behind-the-scenes look at questions to prepare for, how to stand out, and general best practices for our entry level interviews.

Practice, practice, practice

A best practice is to prepare for your interview the same way you would for a presentation – make sure you have thoroughly gathered the right information to share and rehearse your “speech.”  Here are some ways to practice answering questions:

  • Ask a friend, mentor, parent, or professor to host a mock interview.
  • Stop by your campus’ career services office for advice and practice opportunities.
  • Answer common interview questions in the mirror.
  • Record your interview skills using a webcam.

The key is to practice repeatedly – don’t get discouraged if you struggle your first few times. Remember that interviewing is a skill, and like any skill, it takes time to develop and become proficient at it.

Make sure you are familiar with Vanguard

You don’t have to have deep knowledge of our strategy, but be familiar with our mission and the general purpose of our business. Candidates that know the basics about what we do will better demonstrate that they are interested in the role and company. Job descriptions are a great place to start, but we also have videoscrew profiles, a LinkedIn page and other career search related websites.

Know why you want this role

You will most likely be asked why you’re interested in the role you’re applying for. Tailor your answer to what specifically led you here – the role had growth opportunities, the culture was appealing, or you have a passion for doing the right thing for clients. And it’s best to not simply read from the website – make your answer personal. Consider what made you click the “Apply” button – do you have a friend who works at Vanguard and their experience sounded attractive? Do our values match with yours?  Take your answer beyond, “I need a job” by telling a story.

Present your best self

We all know that interviewing is difficult and it’s completely natural to have some nerves. Despite this, it’s better to not state how uncomfortable you are. Part of the interview assessment includes measuring your ability to handle challenging situations, so statements like, “I’m so nervous!” can come across that you’re unprepared for the discussion. Go in with the mindset that recruiters and hiring managers want you to do well – your interview performance doesn’t have to be perfect. Interviewers will appreciate confidence and professionalism, but be careful about coming across as overly confident. For example, use phrases such as, “If I were to move on in the role,” not when I’m hired.

Answering the uncomfortable questions

Some interview questions are uncomfortable because they suggest that you’re unreliable or a poor performer. For example, questions related to mistakes you’ve made or challenges you’ve experienced can seem like a trick. But answering these types of questions with responses such as, “I’ve never made a mistake,” isn’t going to reflect as well as it may seem. Remember, everyone makes mistakes. If you are asked to describe an error of some kind, know that it doesn’t have to be a major mistake. You can describe a miscommunication, a time you forgot to return an email, or when you misread a school assignment. Humility and the ability to correct your actions are good qualities to demonstrate. Plus, we want to hire people who are coachable and open to feedback.

Manners count

Also, be careful not to inadvertently insult your interviewers when discussing schools, companies, or colleagues. A recruiter recalls the time a candidate described how they were offered a scholarship, but choose not to attend because the college was, “beneath them.” What they didn’t realize was that they were trashing the interviewer’s alma mater. Ouch!

End strong

Asking questions will demonstrate your interest in the role, so always have a few in mind. Our recruiters love these questions:

  • What’s a typical day like in this role?
  • What’s the career trajectory?
  • How does Vanguard measure success in this role?
  • Which strengths are needed for the role?
  • Why do you choose to stay at Vanguard?

After the interview

Even if you decide you are no longer interested in the role, don’t “ghost” your recruiter. You never know when you may encounter them again, or find yourself interested in another role at Vanguard.  As soon as you can, let the recruiter know that you’d like to withdraw. It can be a simple note, such as:

“I appreciate you meeting with me for the client services position. After some reflection, I don’t think I’m the right person for the role and would like to withdraw. Best of luck!”

If you’re comparing offers, feel free to call or email with questions. Recruiters can help you understand the job offer and our total rewards package. And it’s recommended that you avoid asking for immediate feedback regarding how you did in the interview – recruiters and hiring managers will need to reflect and collaborate on your interview before making any decisions.

Quick tips:

  • You can use notes during a phone interview, but don’t sound like you’re reading from them.
  • Limit jokes, and keep conversation to neutral topics such as weather.
  • Make sure to eat before any in-person interviews as the process may take a few hours.
  • Bring your resume, a notepad, and a few pens.
  • Print directions to our office. You never know when technology may let you down.
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