My interview at CRA for a placement in the Antitrust and Competition Economics Practice was different than that of a typical analyst applicant, as I originally started here as an intern.
My internship interview fell on a classic Boston winter morning—the cabs and Ubers were all booked, public transportation was delayed, and it was freezing from the previous night’s snow. I received a call from CRA recruiting asking if the weather would affect my ability to make it into the office that morning. Ambitiously, I said, “no.” However, the morning of the interview was not as smooth as my phone call with recruiting. After waking up, I quickly set off the fire alarm throughout my entire dorm room, purchased an iced coffee that FROZE in my hand, and ended up running the last mile and a half to my interview. This record pace sprint turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Thanks to those endorphins, I felt relaxed once I entered the building!
I was met at the front desk by recruiting and led to my interview room where I met with four individuals from CRA, ranging from junior staff in the competition practice to vice presidents. Interviews started with two junior staff members, back to back. They asked about my classes and research that they felt pertained to the nature of the work here. CRA tries to relate questions towards the practice that you’ll be working in, so it’s important to be up-to-date on the practice’s work and be able to draw connections to your own experience.
Following this, I met with a senior staffer and walked through a hypothetical case for the competition practice that involved generating a pricing model. Statistics and econometrics knowledge were very important for this section of the interview. It’s crucial to remember that one of the essential things companies look for is reasoning and how you work through problems. Being able to follow your train of thought is very important, and if you’re working logically with economic facts to back ideas up, you don’t have to necessarily arrive at the exact answer.
During my final part of the interview, I met with a CRA vice president and we mostly talked about an independent study I had worked on during my junior year at Boston College (it revolved around analyzing football data and looking into the allegations of Deflategate) and my senior thesis plans (which focused on baseball players’ salaries).
Each individual interview lasted about 30 minutes for a total interview time of two hours. I think that the most important thing to keep in mind while interviewing is to know the type of work that the practice you’re applying to focuses on. If you know that your work will heavily revolve around econometric analysis, make sure you emphasize these skills and the programming knowledge that you’ve learned. One of the main things that differentiates the junior staffers is the analytical programs that they’re versed in. In competition, we use Stata and SAS frequently (as well as Mapping software and occasionally Python). If you can bring any prior skills in these programs to the table, that is a major plus. Also, it’s key to feel comfortable and confident. One of my professor’s best advice to me was that when you get invited in for an interview, they know that you have the skills that are required to work there; what they are trying to figure out is if you would be a good fit for the company. Be confident, and perhaps try running to your interview to calm those nerves.
“Try & Hire” internship experience at CRA Zurich amid the COVID-19 pandemic
José Bila is an associate in the Life Sciences Practice based in Zurich. He joined CRA in June 2020 as part of the Swiss “Try & Hire” program, where...