Interview advice

Introduction

Despite the technology the twenty first century has to offer, no one has yet designed something more effective and efficient than the traditional face to face interview to fill a finance or accountancy job in Cumbria or anywhere else.

An interview is potentially one of the most important occasions of your professional life; it has its own dynamics and techniques which must be mastered if you are to make the most of the opportunity.

Application Forms

Prior to the meeting, you could be required to complete an application form. This may appear a waste of time if you have sent the CV but these are very important documents that should be viewed as a further opportunity to impress your potential employer and to distinguish yourself from the competition.

There are no circumstances that “see CV” should be written on the form this will merely give the impression that you either can not be bothered or that you view there recruitment process to be inefficient. Attention to detail is vital to create the right impression. When you get, and you will, the classic questions do not ramble but be precise and keep the reason you are applying and the specific vacancy parameters in mind.

Irrelevant of the question they are all getting at one thing – why do you want the job and why should we give it to you? And, if we do give it to you will you be good at it and stay with the firm for a reasonable period of time.

Background and research

It is crucial to do as much research into the firm and the vacancy as you can. Anyone that is serious about applying for a vacancy nowadays must have decent knowledge of the commercial world. With this in mind, it is a prudent idea to gather information from the media on major sectors as part of your preparation. Online news feeds can be a good way to do this and the information can come straight to your desktop making it easier than ever.

When the meeting is arranged, try to secure an annual report and other literature or product information that is available; again, the web can be a great way to do this and it can be added to your information store on clients and sectors. It is the applicant’s responsibility to do this and the client will expect it.

Part of the reasoning for this is to make the interview a more enjoyable and fulfilling experience for you and for the interviewer. There is absolutely nothing worse than interviewing someone who has no knowledge about the company to which they are applying and knows nothing of the culture, history and ambitions of the firm.

Be well versed but not cocky, the latter tends to give the interviewer immediate concerns of team fit and professionalism. The inter-view is exactly that – an interactive situation and it is crucial to listen as well to put the best foot forward.

Getting it right

Making the right first impressions is critical as they are lasting and as a consequence vital. It is undeniably natural to make some form of assessment in the first minutes of meeting someone so it’s the responsibility of the candidate to set the tempo of the interview. Never under any circumstances be late and if the unforeseeable does happen always phone ahead and give brief detail; not just, I’ll be late. Do remember though, even if your reason is undeniably unavoidable and not your fault, the first impression will still be bad.

Make every effort to look smart, the modern business casual look is fine once you have the job but nothing makes a better impression than a smart, formal suit. Be enthusiastic and offer a proper handshake that is neither a “bone crusher” nor a “soggy fish”. Always be nice to security, receptionists etc, a bad or good piece of feedback from the person at front desk sometimes changes things. We have known clients to actually ask the front desk how candidates have conducted themselves in reception.

Qualifications

If you happen to have a first from Cambridge the following may not apply. However, if you happen to have a blip on the record somewhere this does need to be covered, if you just put your head in the sand it will not help at all.

If such a scenario exists mention it yourself before the client does this can put a candidate on the back foot. If, however, the role is for a financial directors post they probably won’t care that you got a D in theology all those years ago so keep it relevant and be sensible. Valid reasons should be given but if you just made an error be honest and say that you have learned from that time.

Experience

Wherever your experience lies it needs to be put forward as a positive to your potential employer and correlate to the needs of the role on offer. Do ensure that you convey relevant and good quality information to the interviewee and do not use one thousand words when ten will suffice. Having done your company research you will be able to sound enthused about the company and use your common sense if you know its not a progressive job and its just for a year say so, if the role is vertical show ambition there’s a fine line between the interviewee thinking yes, that was a good candidate and oh lord they will want my job in 12 months. Most importantly keep it relevant all the time the interviewer is going to be thinking will this person fit the company, will they mix with the team and perhaps with clients.

Motivations for leaving previous roles are important and do try to be honest – references normally bring everything out into the open so when being interviewed for a finance job in Cumbria be honest and direct but courteous.

Do ask the questions that you want answers to; it is always regrettable to leave an interview for vacancy thinking I should have asked…..!