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
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
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
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
“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
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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