The fact that you have an interview means you are almost there. You may be feeling anxious and nervous. It's only natural. But the important things to keep in mind are:
Interviewers do not waste their time. An interviewer's time is expensive. You deserve to be on the shortlist. You have a realistic chance of getting the job.
By being on the shortlist the odds of winning the job have been significantly reduced in your favour.
An interview is a golden opportunity to illustrate your enthusiasm and passion for the role.
Second, be prepared. A world-class sportsman once said: 'The more I practice, the luckier I get'.
This is also true of interviews - being well prepared can make all the difference. The following section provides guidelines on key aspects of the interview process:
Research has shown that over 80% of interviewees do little or no preparation before an interview. Increase your chances of success and put yourself in the top 20% with these tips:
Research the firm
Visit the company's website for general information and recent press releases
Use search engines to get a wider view of the company and how it fits into its industry
Contact the firm's marketing department for up-to-date literature
Use your network to get a behind-the-scenes view
Research the company’s main competitors
Know your CV
Make sure you know your CV inside out and are ready to expand on any choices you’ve made regarding your education and career. Be confident talking about your key achievements.
Prepare some questions and answers:
Take time to consider questions you might be asked and practice your responses.
Prepare a brief career overview in response to the popular starting question 'tell me something about yourself'. Be ready with plenty of examples to illustrate your skills and how you could contribute to the company.
Think about questions you'd like to ask. Questions which invite thought and comment are more memorable to the interviewer than those which request specific detail. This is also an excellent opportunity to illustrate your understanding of the firm.
Research the interview process
Find out the format of the interview:
How many interviews will there be?
Does the firm carry out psychometric testing?
Who will be conducting the interviews?
The day of the interview
If you're going to be late, call the company and let them know. Make sure you know roughly how long the interview will last. You don't want to be fretting about your next meeting.
Arrive a little early for the interview. Ten minutes spent in the reception will give you time to collect your thoughts and a chance to read the firm's brochures and study recent press releases. Listening to the receptionists and watching the comings and goings can provide a valuable insight into the type of firm you might be joining.
Communication is said to be 93% non-verbal; 55% of that figure is visual. Ask yourself 'Do I look the part?' Always dress to impress. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Get a second opinion and check that your choice of interview wear creates the right impact.
Look in the mirror and check your posture. Relaxed shoulders present an open and confident manner. A strong but not over-bearing handshake and a natural smile complete the positive picture.
Just think, you've hardly said a word and your interviewer is already thinking, 'Great, looks good…confident…I could see this candidate fitting in round here'.
Have some additional copies of your CV with you.
The interview is the forum within which you will need to answer three questions:
Do you have the technical skills and experience to do the job?
Will you have the right attitude and commitment to do the job?
Will you fit in?
Skills and experience
The fact that you've been asked for interview shows your potential employer believes the answer to this question is 'yes'. However, the majority of the interview will probably be spent confirming this. Avoid monosyllabic responses and volunteer supporting information whenever possible.
Attitude and commitment
It's all very well having the technical ability, but this is meaningless unless matched with application and the drive and desire to succeed in the role. Give practical examples of how you have shown commitment and motivation in the past.
Will you fit in?
Companies differ. One person's dynamic and exciting environment may seem competitive and back-biting to another.It's your opinion that matters. A company's literature and your interviewer will provide clues on how to convey the impression that you'll fit in. But bear in mind that before accepting a position you must believe that you really will fit in. If the firm's culture is very different from your own, it's unlikely you'll be successful.
Other useful tips
Be clear and concise. Always use positive language. You're in control of what you want your interviewer to know, so take responsibility for answering the three key questions from the start.
If you tend to fidget, keep your hands apart and don't hold a pen or copy of your CV.
Practice a comfortable sitting position beforehand that feels natural.
Be aware of your voice. Pace, tone and intonation all contribute to your success in an interview. If the role demands energy and enthusiasm, show some!
If you are being interviewed by more than one person, engage the whole panel when responding.
Although you've thought about the salary side of things, always allow your interviewer to initiate discussions. This often won't occur during the first interview. Negotiate as late as possible: you will have most influence when the recruiter wants you.
Even if doubts are setting in, always remain positive throughout the interview. There will be time to discuss concerns later. You want to be able to make the final decision.
At the end of the interview, always be positive if asked about your interest in the job. It's worth making notes immediately afterwards on what you thought went well, what didn't and what you'd do differently next time. Experience always enhances performance, so make the most of the meeting.
Finally, follow up with a brief thank you letter, reiterating your interest in the position. If you have any additional information which might help the company make a decision in your favour, offer it here. Send a letter rather than an email which can be easily deleted.
Common Interview Questions
Tell me something about yourself.
What brings you to the job market at this point in your career?
Why would you like to work for this company in particular?
What attracts you to this role?
What are your key strengths and weaknesses?
Describe two major achievements in your career.
If you could change anything about your financial career so far, what would it be?
How would members of your team describe you?
What important points came out of your last appraisal?
Describe your management style.
What do you look for in a manager?
Describe your toughest client.
What do you want from your next role?
What does success mean to you?
What are the key things that drive or motivate you?
What really winds you up in the workplace?
Describe your greatest challenge so far.
Describe a difficult work scenario and how you managed it.
Where do you see yourself in two to five year's time?
What are your financial career aspirations?
What would you say about your current and last employers?
Describe your preferred company culture.
If you could have your time again, what career would you choose?
Questions to ask your interviewer
How has this financial vacancy arisen?
How would you describe the firm/company culture?
What do you see as the key challenges of this role?
How do you differentiate yourselves from your competitors?
What are the organisation's major business objectives in the coming year?
How are employees measured in terms of performance?
What processes exist to support employees in their career development?
How would you describe the firm/company's values?
What key issues currently face the organisation?
What can I expect to be involved in during my first six months of joining?
What are the department's priorities during the next six months?
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