Getting an interview call for your dream role is exciting and nerve-wracking in equal measure. On the one hand, it’s a sign that the employer liked your CV and think you have the relevant skills and experience for the role. But on the other, it can be difficult to know what to expect, meaning the right preparation is essential. So, what do you need to think about before the big day?
Dressing and behaving correctly
First impressions can make or break your success in an interview. That means dressing as professionally and appropriately as possible, ensuring that your attire is neat and clean, well-pressed and immaculate. Many companies claim that they have a laid back attitude and casual dressing, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution during the interview.
In addition to dressing formally, you also have to make sure you are carrying copies of your CVs in a professional-looking folder. It goes without saying that arriving on time is a must, as there really can be no excuses. Make sure you leave lots of extra time to get there, as you can always get yourself a coffee around the corner if you’re early, and you don’t want to arrive feeling flustered.
When you arrive, enter the room confidently with a smile, looking your interviewers in the eye and firmly shaking their hands. Try not to be fidgety and do your best to appear confident, but not arrogant. Remember, the interviewer is not only judging if you are technically competent but also if they would enjoy working with you.
Typical interview questions
The questions you are asked will, of course, vary depending on the role and company, but common interview questions can include:
Why are you interested in this company? Based on your prior research, outline a project or activity in which the company is involved or for which it is known, and explain to your interviewer why you want to be part of this and how you feel you can add value to it. You can also talk about previous experiences that you enjoyed which are related to what this company does. The interviewer will be looking for evidence that you have a thorough understanding of what the organisation does and what it stands for, as well as that you have a genuine passion and interest in working there:
- Why did you choose this field? An answer to this question should match your skills to the field in question. Emphasise skills that will be significant and useful to the field you want to work in. Again, this is your chance to show passion and enthusiasm for what you do
- Why are you interested in this position? This question will test whether you are knowledgeable about the job you are applying for. Be sure to back your answer up with researched material on what you expect the job will entail, how you can contribute to it, and what role it plays in your long-term career goals.
- What are your career aspirations/ Where do you see yourself in x years? Take this as an invitation to not only talk about your career plans but also your ambition, desire to progress and how you would perform in a leadership role.
Some questions are not questions per se but are more of an invitation to share an experience. This helps the interviewer understand how you really handle certain challenges in the workplace, giving a snapshot of your leadership skills, communication ability, clarity of thought and most importantly, attitude towards teammates. Some examples include:
- Tell me about a time when you handled a challenging project? Make sure you come prepared with plenty of examples that you can talk about in detail. For these questions specifically, you could discuss how you developed specific objectives for the project and formed a systematic plan to accomplish all objectives within a given time frame. Describe how you track progress and check on the performance of team members, as well as how you dealt with any obstacles.
- Tell me about how you resolve problems with team members? This question deals with two factors of your personality: how you approach problems and how you work with others. Your answer should, therefore, satisfy not just one but both.
Industry-specific job interviews
You should also prepare for questions specific to your industry, such as:
Finance, accounting and audit interviews
Topics for the interview may include accounting principles such as:
- IFRS or US GAAP
- Internal controls
- Financial planning or other questions specific to the role.
You should also be on top of the current regulatory environment and the impact of any potential changes. The most important questions might be the ones test your ethical reasoning and on avoiding conflicts of interest.
In applying for a management or a leadership position, your interview will revolve more on your leadership skills. You may be asked questions regarding your leadership style and your values as a leader.
Further recommendations for successful job interviews
Do your research – Research everything about the company as well as the position. Your primary source of information is the company’s own website but also look at border information regarding the industry to which the company belongs.
- Know your CV by heart – Most employers base their interview questions on what you put on your CV, so make sure you are familiar with everything included in your CV and that you can support every single detail on it. Be prepared to provide supplementary information regarding the points you mention in your CV
- Practice – How you express yourself will have a major effect on the impression that you leave after the interview. It is important that you talk with just the right amount of confidence. Practice will help you feel at ease when answering interview questions
- Ask relevant questions – At the end of every interview, it will be your turn to ask relevant questions, and it’s vital to get this right. The kind of questions you ask will reflect greatly on you, giving your interviewer an idea of how you think and what your priorities are. As much as possible, your questions should come from your research and should be about the role and the company. To be certain, prepare questions beforehand.
If you’re looking for your next challenge in finance or audit:
Our Renaix Guide to Recruitment for Audit and Finance Professionals provides information on trends in the industry.
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