Parte 2 de “Desglosando la entrevista de trabajo”: las preguntas difíciles

Como continuación de nuestro último artículo, y dado que muchos de ustedes están entrando, o entrarán pronto en la temporada alta de búsqueda de empleo y entrevistas, presentamos la serie titulada “Desglosando la entrevista de trabajo”, donde en cada artículo discutimos un segmento de una entrevista (que puede durar solo 5 minutos). Hoy, analizamos las preguntas difíciles.

Nuestras recomendaciones básicas son:

• Practicar, practicar, practiar, y mantenerse firme en el plan de juego

• Recordar que algunos entrevistadores simplemente se fijarán en sus puntos más débiles. Yo, por ejemplo, tuve una situación extraña apenas mudarme a Londres en la que un headhunter dijo que no presentaría mi perfil a un fondo enfocado en el Reino Unido porque yo tenía “un acento gracioso” al hablar inglés; años más tarde, ese mismo headhunter se acercó a mi empresa para traerme candidatos (todavía estaba trabajando en Inglaterra, la mayor parte del tiempo trabajando con angloparlantes nativos). Todavía tenía (y tengo) mi acento divertido y claramente el resto de mi perfil de candidato era más fuerte que la debilidad que percibió ese señor.

• No hay respuestas correctas ni perfectas. En la mayoría de los casos, se trata solo de ver cómo reaccionas cuando te enfrentas a un momento tenso.

• Ser lo más minucioso posible, pensando en situaciones o puntos negativos en los que has sido “atacado” en el pasado o que es solo una cosa que, cuando se te pregunta, te pone nervioso.

• Algunas preguntas difíciles habituales

  • Huecos en el currículum (por qué hay algunos meses o tal vez años sin trabajo a tiempo completo). Dedique tiempo a pulir su historia y a tener una explicación para todo en su perfil.
  • Te han despedido
  • Estás intentando mudarte de ciudad/de país
  • Tienes un promedio de calificaciones bajo
  • Te mudas a un lugar donde el idioma principal no es tu idioma nativo (típico de las personas que se mudan a Nueva York o Londres)
  • Estudiaste en una universidad no demasiado fuerte (o no en la típica lista de la que quieren reclutar todos los equipos de RRHH)

Una vez que haya hecho una lista exhaustiva de las preguntas que pueden ser difíciles para tu candidatura

• Tómate el tiempo de responderlas por escrito de manera exhaustiva. Luego, organiza bien el contenido en bullet points.

• Practica leerlas en alto, y reescríbelas cuando sea necesario

• Grábate (audio y video): cuando intentaba cambiar de trabajo en 2013, me grababa respondiendo preguntas difíciles como notas de audio y las ponía en mis auriculares durante el viaje hacia y desde el trabajo. Fue impresionante cómo, de repente, responder preguntas difíciles en las entrevistas se volvió natural y las redujo a una sola pregunta más, más que un drama que puede hundirte y cambiar el curso de una entrevista.

• Pídele a tus “entrevistadores de práctica” (tu pareja, padres, hermanos, amigos), que te interroguen sobre estas preguntas difíciles y que sean malos. Mejor que se transpire en la práctica que no en la entrevista real.

Un par de comentarios finales:

Los entrevistadores son humanos. Y los seres humanos tenemos días buenos y malos. Podría darse el caso de que estén teniendo un mal día y, después de hacer una pregunta difícil de rutina, sigan insidiendo cuando perciben debilidad. Y tal vez otro día hubieran sido simplemente agradables entrevistadores.

Algunas personas simplemente son malas o disfrutan de momentos incómodos para el entrevistado. No puedes hacer mucho si ellos son así, probablemente tuvieran una idea obsesionada de rechazarte desde que leyeron tu CV. Cíñete a tu plan, sé siempre respetuoso y piensa en “el próximo partido” (la siguiente ronda con la misma empresa, el siguiente proceso). Yo, por ejemplo, tuve una entrevista terrible en un banco con sede en Londres en 2010, en la que el entrevistador no me miraba directamente a la cara, me interrumpía cada dos minutos mientras contaba mis experiencias y, en un momento, me paró en seco cuando explicaba una transacción, dijo que era una tontería, y arrojó un bolígrafo sobre la mesa, diciéndome que estuviera en silencio y anotara los flujos de efectivo anuales de la inversión que estaba describiendo. Curiosamente, odié la situación, pero aun así continué con mi plan de juego, y terminé entrando en la ronda final y más tarde, trabajando durante unos años con ese tío tan curioso.

Tu percepción frente a la realidad: cuando te hacen una pregunta difícil o se te pregunta sobre un área de debilidad, puedes sentir que te están bombardeando la entrevista, que está siendo un desastre y que no hay forma de que consigas el trabajo. Bueno, eso es una percepción y si te ciñes a tu plan de juego, estas serán partes naturales de una entrevista y te sorprenderá lo bien que navegas aún en reuniones que no parecen buenas.

Lo importante, como trato de inculcar en cada entrada y en cada consejo que doy: asegúrate de dar el 100% a cada momento, que eres profesional porque incluso cuando una pregunta difícil (o una serie de preguntas difíciles) descarrilan tu candidatura y no recibes la oferta, si sigues tu libreto, todavía sentirás ese impulso interior diciendo “ok, ¿qué es lo que sigue? Hice mi parte, no funcionó esta vez, afrontemos el próximo desafío”.

Nos vemos la próxima vez para la entrada # 3 de esta serie. ¡Seguid dándole duro!

Part 2 of “Breaking down the interview”: on tough questions

As a continuation to our last entry, and given that many of you are entering, or will enter soon into the high season of recruiting and interviewing, we present the series entitled “Breaking down the interviews”, where in each entry we discuss a specific section of an interview (which might only last 5 minutes). Today, we discuss the tough questions, also called curve ball questions.

Our basic recommendations are:

  • Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse…and stick to your game plan
  • Remember that some interviewers will just be fixated on your weaker points. So be it. I, for instance, had a strange situation when I just moved to London whereby a headhunter said that he would not present my profile to a UK focused fund because I had “a funny accent”; years later, that same headhunter reached out to pitch his company to bring me candidates to the firm I was working on at the time (I was still working in England, most of the time working with native English speakers). I still had my funny accent and clearly was stronger than what this talent hunter perceived.
  • There are no right or perfect answers. In most cases, it is just about seeing how you react when confronted with a tense moment.
  • Be as thorough as you can, thinking bad scenarios or points on which you have been attacked in the past or that it is just one thing that when asked, makes you nervous.
  • Some usual tough questions
    • Gaps in resume (why there are some months or maybe years with no full time job). Spend time polishing your story and having an explanation for everything in your profile.
    • You have been fired
    • You are trying to change geography
    • You have a poor GPA
    • You are not a native speaker of the language in which you will interview and conduct the job (typical of people moving into New York or London)
    • You attended a not so strong university

Once you had made an exhaustive list of what can be tough questions for your candidacy

  • Take time to answer them in writing properly. Then organize them nicely in a few bullet points
  • Rehearse and re-write
  • Record yourself (audio and video) – When I was trying to change jobs back in 2013, I would record myself answering tough questions as audio notes, and play those on my headphones during commute. It was impressive how, suddenly, answering tough questions in interviews became natural and reduced them to just one more question, other than a drama that changed the course of an interview.
  • Ask your mock interviewers, your partner, your parents, siblings, whoever close, to grill you on these tough questions.

A couple final remarks:

  • Interviewers are human. And human beings have bad days and good days. It might be the case that they are having a bad day and after firing a routine tough question, they just keep drilling when they sensed weakness. And maybe on another day they would have been just pleasant interviewers.
  • Some people are just mean or enjoy awkward moments for the interviewee. You can’t do much if they are like that, probably had a fixated idea about rejecting you since they read your CV. Stick to your plan, always be respectful and think of “the next game”. I, for instance, had an awful interview at a London based bank back in 2010, whereby the interviewer was not looking straight into my face, kept on interrupting me as I wanted to explain my experience and at one point, he stopped me on my tracks of explaining a deal, he said it was nonsense, and threw a pen across the table, telling me to be in silence and write down the yearly cash flows of the investment I was describing. Funny enough, I hated the situation but still continued my game plan, and I ended up getting into the final round and later on, working for a few years with that guy.
  • Your perception versus the real thing: when an interviewee is asked a tough question or poked about a weakness area, she/he can feel that he is bombing the interview, that it’s being a disaster and that there is no way you get the job. Well, that is a perception and if you stick to your game plan, these will be natural parts of an interview and you will be surprised how well you navigate.

The important thing, as I try to instil in every entry and in every piece of advice I give: make sure you give 100% to each moment, that you are professional because even when a tough question (or series of tough questions) does derail your candidacy and you don’t get the offer, if you played by the book, you will still get this kick inside saying “ok, what’s next. I did my part, didn’t work, let’s take on the next challenge”.

See you next time for entry #3 of this series. Keep it up!

Key questions to ask at the end of an interview that may push you closer to that offer

You’ve been through the explanation of your background, story and why you want this job; you’ve succeeded in answering a few tough questions or curve balls; you did a good job in answering some brain teaser or technical questions; and at the end of the interview, they ask you the simple closing question of “Do you have any questions for me (us)?”, you blank, and you ask some silly “get me out of here” questions like “So, what’s the next step of the process?” or worse, “No, I don’t have questions on my end”.

Don’t get me wrong, just by answering smart questions at the end of an interview after you have done poorly, won’t get you the job or the ticket to the next round. But if you have done a good job overall, asking bad closing questions can spoil your performance; let’s put it in mathematical terms: asking smart, well-thought questions at the end of an interview is a necessary but not sufficient condition.

It is part of the 4th and final step in our Program, as we prepare to rise, shine and get the offer from that coveted job. Below we share a few specific and other generic questions you will find useful. I must confess that in the beginning of my career I dropped the ball many times by blanking or having just procedural questions, so I would have loved to read this list. Let’s get into it.

On your interviewer background

I mention it to the point of exhaustion: in the era of Internet, it is unforgivable to go to an interview and not having done at least a basic news-run on your interviewer, the team and the firm. Starting with the interviewer, remember that we are all humans and even seemingly super-human Managing Directors like to have “their egos massaged” then, without being too obvious, ask about their achievements and listen as they share their past experience:

  • Why did you join this firm? And how does it compare with previous experiences?
  • What deal / transaction / project are you most proud of in your career?
  • What was the most challenging moment during your career and why?
  • (On specifics of interviewer education): What made you take this or that decision and study X at Y University?

On the specific team you would be joining

  • How do you evaluate performance at the end of the year?
  • What do you like about working on this team? (this can give you further intel on the different team members and dynamics)
  • Who shall I be spending most of the time with if I joined? (always respect the hierarchies and don’t insinuate you will be talking to partners and managing directors)

On the firm

  • What are the key strengths of the firm? (discussing historical as well as forward looking)
  • What are the key values of the firm and how are those relevant in attracting/retaining top talent?
  • What are the biggest challenges, in your view, for the Company at this time?
  • What type of training do you have for junior team members?
  • Can you share some insights on how the Company has been adapting / preparing / responding to the COVID19 environment?

On the market

  • What is your view on the market / the economy / the specific sector in which the firm operates? And how are you / the team working to have an edge?
  • How do you see the industry evolving (Technologically, consolidation, etc)? Do you think COVID will accelerate existing under-currents of change?

On your career / junior professionals evolution

  • What are the characteristics you have seen repeating in successful young professionals?
  • If I was to get an offer to join, what could I do ahead of starting to be more prepared?
  • What would you say would be my growth / career path if I joined the firm?

So ahead of your next interview, pick a few of these or prepare your own, and be sure you have them under your sleeve to end the interview on a high note. There is no specific formula or defined order for these; just make sure you have a few rehearsed questions and you sort them / ask them depending on how the interview went.

We are looking forward to your feedback on this article or on anything other topic on our Blog, and don’t forget to get in touch if you have questions about our Individual or Professional Programs. We will get in touch ASAP if you reach out at info@breakingintofinance.info.

Until the next time.