So, it’s time for a change. You’ve decided you want to progress your career and land your dream finance job. You’ve put in the legwork, found new opportunities, and submitted applications. It’s all paid off, and now comes the tricky part… the interview.
Besides having the answers ready to all the classic interview questions such as ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years?’, what key things should you focus on to impress the people interviewing you?
Here are some of my pre-interview prep tips…
Think about the problems you can solve
When most people go to interviews, they’re focused on the wrong things. They’re caught up with how to get their story across, and how to answer all of the possible questions perfectly. Of course, your story is important, but there are other things you should think about if you’re going to stand out.
Have you ever been in a situation where you have been speaking with someone and they’ve asked ‘hey, would you like to come and work with me?’ If so, it will most likely be because you discussed the answers to their problems. It’s your job to do this in an interview situation, so they can’t see any other option but to offer you the role.
Position yourself as a problem-solver as you answer each question. To do this, you want to avoid being allusive and making them read between the lines. Just tell them straight up how you can solve their problems and you won’t go far wrong.
Ask around to find out some of your potential employer’s challenges
Before your interview, do some detective work to find out what challenges the employer has. Ask the recruiter or someone else on your potential employer’s team if they have any insights they’re willing to share. You could even try connecting with your interviewer on LinkedIn and say, ‘hey, do you have 20 minutes to talk about working in your space?’.
Once you know what their challenges are, you can steer any interview question that’s asked towards the solutions you bring.
In the interview
You can pretty much guarantee that the opening question is going to be, ‘So tell me a little bit about yourself’. This question is used to help you and them settle down and is used as a gentle introduction to the interview. You could talk for two or five minutes, but in my opinion, the shorter the better!
The best way to answer this is by a simple, high-level background (not your whole life history). Try and keep it to around 30 seconds of ‘this is what I do’ and then 30 seconds of ‘this is what I want to do next’.
If they’re expecting a two-minute answer and instead, you give them a one-minute engaging answer with a question at the end of it – they will be impressed. A good question to end with could be ‘I expect you have some of these sorts of challenges (having researched/mentioned earlier), can you tell me a bit about them?’.
They’ll likely be caught off guard and tell you about some of their challenges. It’s a subtle way to get them to tell you what you want to know, so you can give answers that explain how you’re the perfect person to help.
Write a list of questions
Anyone can prep rehearsed answers to competency-based questions, but not everyone takes the opportunity to ask questions, let alone the right ones!
In an interview the answers you give are relatively finite, but the questions you can ask are infinite. You’re in control of what you ask. You can demonstrate far more about your competency through your questions than the answers you give.
So, think about asking really great questions surrounding their problems and challenges (starting to see a theme here!?). This is what will set you apart from the rest of the candidates and (hopefully) help you secure that job!
Need some extra help?
I coach great finance leaders to become even better versions of themselves. If you want to demonstrate your strengths or figure out the right questions to ask before your next big interview, I can help.
Get in touch with me to book a free 30-minutes discovery session. Together, we can lay out an action plan, and help you understand what finance coaching can do for you.