Do You Know How to Answer These Interview Questions?

A man is sitting next to Brutus Buckeye in the Union and smiling at the camera.

Today’s blog is written by Mark Houston, an Ohio State alum and executive at Capital One.

Recommending candidates that will become part of our culture, deliver amazing results and support our customers makes recruiting an important part of my job. Ultimately, my recommendation to hire is based on:

  1. How well your core values align with our culture
  2. Your ability to process information and solve problems
  3. How effectively you communicate
  4. Your experiences with difficult tasks

Before digging into questions, it’s worth saying how important it is to answer the question that is being asked. That sounds easy but is often overlooked. Additionally, be yourself. If a company doesn’t feel the genuine you is a fit, it's not likely a place you would have wanted to work anyway.

Q: When did you go out of your way to help someone in need?

I’m looking to see that you assessed a situation and recognized someone that needed help, empathized with them, and offered them help. Our culture seeks people that don’t only solve the problems within their role, but have the judgment to help solve other problems that they see. Managing someone on your team or on a project you are vested in is not going out of your way to help, that's part of delivering results.

“At my internship, I saw someone that was stressed out with what appeared to be a highly manual activity. In talking with them, they were doing something in a spreadsheet and did not have the skills to leverage the power of the tool. I was able to help them be more efficient by using some commands in the moment and offered some resources to help them grow spreadsheet skills. While it took away from my assigned tasks, I was able to catch up, help a colleague and build a lasting friendship.”

Q: What critical feedback do you most often receive?

I want to know that you are focused on developing yourself. Telling me that you have gathered feedback from others, reflected on it and are working to improve is the structure of how to answer this.

“In the past, I’ve been told that I include too many details when communicating upward to leaders. While I recognize my excitement for the work and my desire to show leadership command of the details. I understand the importance of communicating to an audience where they are, not where I am. I’ve made it a point to improve by practicing with a mentor and writing “Be Concise” at the top of my notebook when presenting to leaders.”

Q: Tell me about a time you overcame an obstacle.

I’d like you to summarize the situation so I can quickly understand why this is an obstacle vs. an inconvenience. From there, tell me what you specifically did and how it resulted in a differentiated outcome.

“In my internship, I wanted to bring a data driven recommendation to a problem, but later discovered the data required was not available for consumption. I met with data stewards and other analysts to identify other ways to source the data but did not have success. Not wanting to give up, I met with the cyber team to understand what if any network activity logs existed knowing that we may be able to monitor the flow of work based on what systems and applications were being accessed. After testing, we discovered these logs were an acceptable alternative allowing us to complete our analysis. There are efforts underway to source the data required, but this interim solution was powerful.”

Mark Houston is a 1999 graduate of The Ohio State University and was a member of the Men's Swim Team. He is an Executive at Capital One in the Retail Bank's Customer Protection team. In addition to fighting fraudsters, Mark is the Enterprise Accountable Executive for the Data Analyst job family.

“If I won’t be myself, who will?” - Alfred Hitchcock