How to shine in the job interview (remote or in person) – Breaking into Finance practical advice for success in that last step of the journey

Today we talk about the last part of the journey towards your first or your next job in Finance: the interview process. By this time you will have passed, in one way or another, through the soul-searching for what you want to do, you will have prepared killer marketing materials and you will have networked to get into the process or to learn more about the industry. You will have also be successful enough to get into the situation of being interviewed.

Now, it is your time to shine and get that job offer.

Foreword about “naturals” to interviewing: some people seem to be born to be interviewed, successfully securing offers from every recruiting process that they participate in.

In case you are not one of those people (as was the case of this article’s author), this article summarizes 7 points of our suggested strategy and training for a successful interview.

  1. Confidence: if you are going to be interviewed, it means that someone at the firm (or more than one person) thinks you are worth the time to meet you. Use that as a confidence booster and as the starting point of the preparation.
  2. Your story: rehearse the short and long version of your story and be ready to answer easy and tough questions on any aspects or point of your career, in a sharp (and short) manner. When it comes down to previous experiences: always talk on a positive note about previous employers; know by heart any numerical details of your experience; make a trip down memory lane in advance of the interview, as it won’t be appropriate or advisable to try and remember details when you are in the interview, under pressure.
  3. Technical preparation: rehearse answering the typical finance questions on transactions, financial statements, economics, etc. Spend time on preparing for brainteasers and other logic questions.
  4. Research the company and your interviewer/s: in 2020 there is no excuse for not knowing what your potential employer is up to, and what is the background of the person/s interviewing you.
  5. Hard questions: writedown those tough questions (the ones that make you sweat when thinking about them), and the answers you would give. Review, rehearse, re-write. Record yourself (audio and/or video) and be ready to fire back those bulleted answers whenever you get the curve balls during the interview.
  6. Practice makes perfect: do as many mock-interviews as possible. It will then be very natural to be letting your pitch out live.
  7. Get psyched-up and show up on time: usewhichever ritual you have to get psyched-up on the big day and, as trivial as it may sound, plan very well your commute to the interview venue, and be there 10 to 15 minutes ahead of start time. As many things in life, a lot of good things happen to people just for showing up, and for showing up on time.

As you can see, our advice goes mostly to preparation and getting psyched-up for the interview. We cannot tell you “do this in minute 5” or “do that whenever they say X”, as the interviews will always be different, and you will have to improvise; but improvise on solid ground and rehearsed responses.

In our Individual Program we work with mock interviews, which is a great way to prepare, and without going through our program, it is available to you: get your partner, your parents, your siblings, your friends or whomever can lend you 30-45 minutes of their time, to go through the interview. It shouldn’t be a surprise that probably in the past, you find yourself being more confident, convincing and sharp after going through many processes and rounds of interviews. Then that’s why point 6 (practice makes perfect) is a well-known secret, that many people choose to ignore. If you have to keep only one idea from this article, then this is it: GO PRACTICE.

A few words on remote interviews

One of the things that changed due to COVID is that interviews, and even internships or full-time jobs, are happening remotely. A few words then on remote interviews:

  1. It is the real thing: Take the interview as seriously as if they were in person.
  2. Connectivity: Make sure your gadget and the agreed platform for the interview works (and that you have a back-up plan).
  3. Dress-code: Dress fully (ie. No shorts+flip flops+jacket). Imagine there is an unexpected visit or emergency at home and you have to stand up and they see the “costume”; but even if that doesn’t happen, you will feel more confident wearing the whole attire.
  4. Be on time: can’t stress this enough. With remote interviews there are no excuses for traffic jams or other delays. Connect a few minutes ahead of time!
  5. Set-up/background: Ensure a professional set up (ie. No pets, or interruptions or noises)
  6. Eye contact: make sure to make eye contact with your interviewer; non-trivial tip: check where on your gadget you need to look at to direct your eyesight to your interviewer. Also, remember to smile at your counterpart!
  7. Listen: check periodically that you are being heard and, as if you were having the interview in person, use the silences and allow the other side to speak as well.
  8. Body language: don’t stay frozen. Move your hands and your body as if you were sitting on one of your interviewers’ chair. Move a bit, adjust your posture, use your hands if that’s your natural way of speaking. Try to connect!
  9. Support materials: take advantage of the remote set up to keep your CV and one or two other clear documents in your eye sight (but not visible to your interviewer).

As we have been discussing for the past few weeks, practice makes perfect, and it is always a great use of your time to be 100% ready for your next interview. I have been hearing lately that the amount and frequency of interviews is going up after the draught in April and May, so polish your star-interviewee skills and get ready to shine to get that offer.

Remember that the last module of our Breaking into Finance program is all about the interview process. Get in touch if you want to get more information, or if you want to discuss anything on this article or the blog. Send us an e-mail to info@breakingintofinance.info. Until the next time!

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