Preparation is always paramount when you are invited to an interview because you only have a limited time to impress your potential Employer.
Research the organisation. You could either contact the marketing department and ask for an information pack and copy of the annual reports, or visit the company’s website.
It is worth finding out the size of the company, turnover, sector, press releases and culture of the business. A popular question at interviews is “What do you know about the Company?”
Research the position for which you are applying and ensure that you have a full job description or job brief.
Check directions for where you are going before the day of the interview and take the Company’s phone number with you, just in case.
Practice some interview questions and your possible answers at home.
Arrive to the interview on time.
First impressions count, so your presentation is also vitally important.
Always wear a suit and act courteous at all times.
Maintain a positive attitude, even when you are waiting in their Reception area.
Remember to switch off your mobile phone.
Introduce yourself with a firm handshake and it’s a good idea to make eye contact.
Be attentive and smile confidently.
Sit straight and perhaps lean forward slightly as this is an excellent technique to demonstrate that you are committed and interested. Try not to fidget.
During the interview, present your replies clearly and concisely. Always make sure your responses answer the requirements of the position and back up any statement you make with factual examples.
Remember to ask questions as this shows a keen interest in the vacancy. Avoid questions, however, about salary or benefits – there will be plenty of time later on to negotiate these matters.
More about what to expect during the interview
You should expect questions exploring your training, study plans, qualifications and your understanding of relevant terminology and practice.
The interviewer is also likely to ask questions based on your experience as shown on your CV.
Your interviewer may relate to your key skills, such as your ability to show good verbal and numerical skills. Also, your ability to demonstrate effective communication, work to tight deadlines and deliver quality and accurate output.
Finally, the interview process will also explore your reasons for applying for the job post or your reasons for choosing a career in a particular field. Also; your career aspirations within the sector, self-motivation and the ability to build relationships.
Competency based interviews
Many interviews in the Finance and HR sector follow a competency based format. This format uses questions which ascertain how your behaviour in a past activity can influence your performance in the job going forward.
Your answers will need to demonstrate a broad range of skills. This will be even more important the higher you progress on the career ladder.
Common competencies explored during these interviews will follow the following areas:
◦ Numerical Ability
◦ Problem Solving
◦ Planning and Organising
◦ Computer Skills
◦ Attention to detail
◦ Ability to work to strict deadlines
For senior positions competencies may include:
◦ Strategic and operational management
◦ Building relationships
◦ Leadership and the ability to manage a team
◦ Motivating and developing others
◦ Negotiation and communication at a senior level
◦ Strategic thinking
Sample questions asked by interviewers
Tell me about yourself?
Use this opportunity to describe your relevant qualifications, career history, and your range of skills, emphasising those skills relevant to the job on offer.
Why did you choose this particular industry/career?
Briefly describe your reasons for choosing your career.
What is it about our company/role that has attracted you?
Make sure that your ideas correspond to the skills required by the company and role.
What do you feel you can add to our organisation?
This is your chance to shine. Tell them about your achievements in your previous position(s), which are relevant to the role you are applying for.
What do you enjoy most about your current position?
Be positive, describe your job as interesting and diverse but do not overdo it.
What are your strengths?
Be specific and concentrate on your main strengths. You should consider technical ability, determination to succeed, a positive attitude and the ability to learn quickly.
What are your weaknesses?
Do not say "None". Use a weakness that is not vital to this job. Consider describing a weakness that is also considered strength: “I know my team think I am demanding at times”
Why do you want to leave your current employer?
Never be negative about your present employer or your reasons for leaving, and never cite salary as the principal motive. Instead mention that you are looking for a new challenge, experience or a change of environment.
Describe a time when you had to build a collaborative relationship within your department in order to achieve a particular goal?
Draw on your past team working experiences.
Describe a time when you had to work exceptionally hard to provide great service to a customer.
Draw on your past working experience.
Sample questions you could ask at the interview
Why has this vacancy arisen?
How many other people work in the team?
What type of training or induction is available?
Is there any support for taking professional qualifications?
What is the company’s growth plans?
What challenges is the organisation currently facing
What makes this company stand apart from the competition?
How does the company reward or recognise outstanding work and excellence?
How do you see this job role progressing?
Where will I fit into the overall organisational structure?
How will my performance be measured?
What do you see as the immediate challenges for me if I were to be given the job?
What skills and experience would you say are necessary for someone to succeed in this job?
When can I expect to hear some sort of feedback from your company?