CCE regularly hears from employers who have interviewed Columbia students and alumni for positions at their organizations. We gather this feedback so that we can better inform and prepare you for interviews and the job search. 

 In a Recent survey, Columbia employers stressed that candidates need: 

“…to speak intelligently to the questions ‘why our company’ and ‘why this industry’.”

“…the ability to think outside of oneself and frame answers in terms of how his/her skills can contribute to an organization, rather than how a certain role would help him/her further personal goals.”

“…to think more deeply about why they are interested in the role for which they are interviewing and have a ‘story’ for how it could fit into the bigger picture of his/her career/professional goals.”

“…to practice with mock interviews with their friends and be better prepared for common questions like strengths and weaknesses, ‘tell me about yourself,’ etc.”

and should possess:

“Work ethic, intellectual curiosity, ability to handle pressure, ability to work well in teams, positive attitude, maturity, responsibility, dedication, trustworthiness, honesty”

“Problem solving skills, drive, leadership, entrepreneurialism”

“Analytical skills, communication skills, teamwork, leadership/initiative, critical thinking”

“1) technical skills, 2) desire to do the job, 3) fit for the organization”

Additional Resources

The National Association of Colleges and Employers conducts an annual survey hundreds of employers across the US to determine what they look for in their candidates. In the most recent Job Outlook survey, employers indicated the following: 
The Top-10 Candidate Skills/Qualities Employers Seek 

  • Ability to work in a team
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communication skills (written)
  • Strong work ethic
  • Communication skills (verbal)
  • Leadership
  • Initiative
  • Analytical/quantitative skills
  • Flexibility/adaptablity
  • Detailed-oriented


Keys to preparing for an interview are researching the organization, reflecting on your experiences and qualifications, and practicing your interviewing skills. CCE has resources that can help you in each of these stages such as:

The more you do this, the more an employer might say…

“I was very impressed with the amount and diversity of extracurricular activities that students are taking part in. Students were all prompt and appropriately attired, and conducted themselves professionally.”

“I was most impressed with those who answered questions directly, openly and honestly and provided examples to support their answers.”

“I met with some very impressive and bright people. There were several superstars with great backgrounds and impressive prior internship experience.”