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12 Vanguard interview tips for experienced professionals

We sat down with five Vanguard recruiters to hear how they coach candidates through the interview process. In this blog, we share 12 ways that experienced professionals can prepare for a Vanguard interview – whether in person or over the phone.

Click to learn more about each recruiter and view their LinkedIn profile

1. What questions can applicants expect to get?

One of the most common questions you’ll hear is “tell me about yourself.” This one is tough to answer because it’s so open ended. We recommend keeping your answer to 3-5 minutes, share a couple of your strengths, what you’re working on, and what you’re learning. Practice it until you’ve got it down. It’s important to be able to demonstrate what has prompted your interest in this role. Why did you choose to apply at Vanguard? What attracted you to this position?

Teamwork is also huge at Vanguard, so expect questions around a time you worked well with a team, how you collaborate effectively, and how you motivate others and drive collaboration. Remember the key is what you did, not what the team did. If you answer every question with, “we did…” it’s tough to identify your individual impact.

2. What are the best ways for someone to prepare for those questions?

We have lots of websites and resources that will help you learn more about our company. You can check out or look at our pages on The Muse or LinkedIn. A really easy way is to watch our YouTube videos.

For teamwork-based questions, think about your specific strengths in group settings – do you offer insightful knowledge? Do you ask probing questions or challenge the team’s thinking? If you haven’t had team-based projects in the past, consider all the ways you interact with co-workers. Perhaps you encouraged someone’s idea in a team meeting. Maybe you created a tip sheet for peers when your office technology changed.

I always tell candidates to have a few situational examples ready. The most common being “Talk about a time when you had a problem/situation, what you did you do to identify and solve that problem/situation, and what was the outcome?” I think every hiring manager asks this question in some way, shape, or form. Make sure to carefully read through the job description and relate your answers to the responsibilities of the role you’re interviewing for.

Overall, consider–what are the positive results of your contributions?

3. We all know interviewing is tough, what are some insider tips you can share?

Sometimes when recruiters are quiet, the candidate may think they’re not doing well. Don’t mistake silence as disinterest and remember that your recruiter is taking notes and digesting what you’re saying.

If we ask you to give us an example of something to demonstrate your skills, know that your answers don’t have to be about a time you saved the day. It can be as simple as clearing up a miscommunication, coaching a colleague, or making a tough decision.

It’s also helpful to know that the recruiting process is much more than just the interview—it takes time behind the scenes. We may have to interview a large number of people, then we’re having conversations with hiring managers, and perhaps doing a second round of interviews. Timelines aren’t the same for every position either – some take just a few weeks, while others may take a few months. So don’t worry too much if you don’t hear anything right away.

4. What are some common slip-ups that prevent candidates from moving on?

When you answer a question, don’t add clarifiers like, “I don’t think this is a great answer,” or “This probably isn’t what you’re looking for.” Confidence is important, so don’t play down your experience.

A real deal breaker is unprofessional behavior – cursing, being impolite to the receptionist, or complaining about our security measures. And remember that an interview is a professional interaction, so be careful of using heavy slang or sloppy body language.

Showcase your talent in humble language. Although it’s probably just nerves, sometimes candidates will interrupt a lot or talk over the recruiter. That can give the impression that you don’t communicate well or aren’t courteous.

5. Is it OK for candidates to apply to multiple roles?

If the roles make sense for your skills and background, absolutely. We understand people may feel they are qualified for multiple positions, and really want to work here. Just make sure to keep organized and aware of each job you applied to by making a list of the titles and a few notes about the roles. This will help you prepare to speak about any role when a recruiter calls you.

You can also log into your talent account if you need details of the jobs. We do find it a bit concerning when we call someone for a phone screen and they can’t remember which positions they’ve applied to. During the phone screen, disclose if you’re already speaking with a leader or recruiter at Vanguard.

6. Is it frowned upon for candidates to apply to both leadership and individual contributor roles?

Not necessarily, but the things that make you stand out for each of those roles will differ. In the leadership space, we’re looking for people who are passionate about coaching and developing others, supporting their team, and helping direct reports move up. Leadership at Vanguard is about serving others. Individual contributors are still collaborative team players, but they also prove that they can make an impact independently.

7. Why do you ask about salary?

It’s really just to ensure we’re on the same page and able to match your expectations. Don’t feel you have to share your salary history, just give us a range that would work for you.

8. What advice would you give to someone who thought they did well, but then received a decline letter?

It’s one of the toughest parts of our job to have to decline someone who is really smart and talented. Certainly it can mean that you don’t have the experience or skills we’re looking for, but there are occasions when we have to decline someone awesome for another reason. In those cases, there was someone just slightly more qualified.

Do some self-reflection: do you still feel Vanguard is the place for you? If you think you met the qualifications, we would encourage you to apply again for another similar role. But still take the time to practice the interview and consider how you can make an even better impression.

9. We hear a lot about cultural fit. What does that look like at Vanguard?

First and foremost, you should believe in doing what’s right for our clients. That’s our mission  and it runs deep in our culture.

At Vanguard, you’ll fit right in if you are resilient and encouraging, you can demonstrate that you’re a team player and collaborate well, and you are open to feedback and like to learn. We also want people who have grit and can dig in when things get ambiguous. It’s key that you believe in–and contribute to–an inclusive environment.

10. What if the candidate realizes at some point during the process that they’re no longer interested in the role?

There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that the role’s not a fit during the phone screen. Just the other day I had someone share that after our conversation, the role sounded more senior and he didn’t feel prepared for that level. That’s OK to say – we appreciate the candor.

11. In most cases, there will be a phone screen and in-person interview. How should candidates prepare for each?

Remember that a phone interview is a conversation, so be aware of the volume of what you share to allow the interviewer to ask follow-up questions. Be open for coaching and constructive feedback. The phone screen is just the first level, so bring your “A” game during the entire process.

Before you get to the on-campus interview, ask the recruiter what to expect during the next round, specifically the kinds of questions you should be ready to answer. Come prepared to discuss examples of your work experience and be ready to answer behavior based, or STAR formatted, questions. Review your interviewers’ profiles on LinkedIn to learn more about their background and understand more about the role prior to coming on-campus. And it may seem obvious, but arrive on time or call if you’re going to be late, dress professionally, silence your phone, and bring a pen and paper.

Feel comfortable working with the recruiter on what you’ll need to prepare for the in-person interview. I think it’s one of the most important aspects of our job as recruiters.

12. Any final advice?

Write down questions that you would like to ask the interviewer. Keep in mind that the interview starts the moment you enter the building and doesn’t end until you leave. Recruiters want to set up candidates for a successful interview so embrace the relationship and ask questions!

Most of all, take a deep breath and try to relax. Be confident and be yourself. We want you to do well!

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