How to use Winter break to Prep for your Job Search

By Cassie Zhang, MBA 2021

Retail season is upon us! Unlike consulting, retail recruiting may not appear as clean-cut or structured. Here are some tips and tricks to help you prepare this recruiting cycle.

Company Research

  • Keep up with the Industry – Regardless of the function in retail that you’re aiming for, understanding key industry trends, especially when it comes the latest and greatest when it comes to COVID strategy, is crucial for impressing your interviewers. Some resources include industry Newsletters such as Retail Dive, Retail Brew and Retail Wire 
  • Keep up with the Company – Any company information that is public is fair game for an interview. For public companies, be sure to read their annual reports and financial statements to understand their strategy, priorities and market vision. For private companies, be sure to follow their social media and LinkedIn for relevant updates. Another great way to keep up is to set up Google news alerts based on keywords and/or company names 
  • Keep up with the Products – Passion for the brand is a key characteristic that companies look for. It’s important to be able to intelligently articulate what your favorite products are and provide your perspective on the latest product releases. Some questions to be prepared for are: 
    • What are your favorite products of ours? 
    • How do you think our product compares to that of a competitor’s?
    • What do you think of our recent product innovation? 

Behavioral Interview

  • Know Yourself : Your answer to “tell me about yourself” can really make an impact. Your response should give succinct answers to these sub-questions: 
    • Why did you come to business school and why MIT Sloan? 
    • Why are you interested in retail and why now? 
    • What skills do you bring to this role and what skills do you hope to learn? 
  • Know Your Stories: Take inventory of your work experiences, pick 2-3 of the most impactful stories that showcase the following: 
    • Your ability to take action and drive impact
    • Your ability to collaborate with others in difficult situations
    • Your ability to navigate ambiguity to achieve results

After you’ve identified your stories, refine them by practicing telling them to different audiences. Use your friends, family and classmates as testing grounds to see what parts you can trim and what parts you should highlight to maximize the impact of the story 

  • Know the Company: Leverage your network and the Sloan alumni network to understand what skills and characteristics are most important to the role. CDO’s company notes can also be a great place to start. You can access by going to Career Central > Companies > Select your company > Notes

Case Interview

  • Leverage the MCC: The Management Consulting Club has put together great resources and workshops on not only how to prepare for case interviews, but also what “good” responses look and sound like. While it is rare for a retail company to give a full consulting-style case, it can helpful to understand what good looks like, especially if you’re new to cases 
  • Leverage your Core: Frameworks that you’ve learned in your core classes (think DMD, OP, Operations, Strategy) can be great starting places. Take a look at the case examples that are presented in your core and try to think through how you can modify these frameworks for retail issues 
  • Leverage your Classmates: One of the best aspects of Sloan is how accomplished the student body is. Chances are, there is at least one other person at Sloan who’s either interested in the same retail area as you and/or have had experience in it. Do some digging via LinkedIn and ask friends to be connected with these individuals. They can be a great resource for you to practice with and get feedback

These are some quick tips and tricks to help you prepare. If you have further questions or concerns, be sure to contact CDO and/or the Retail & Consumer Goods Club. Best of luck during this retail season!

By Cassie Zhang, MBA '21
Cassie Zhang, MBA '21 *Spring Fellow Cassie Zhang, MBA