You have been contacted by us and invited for an opportunity to interview for a position at a successful company in the finance, fintech or technology industry. The job description matches your profile perfectly and the only thing standing between you and the new position is acing the interview. Though you probably had many interviews in your career, we would like to take the opportunity to walk you through the interview process very briefly, from preparation to follow-up, to give you some advise as our candidates generally found a few small tips from our side helpful for a successful interview.
'Acing the interview', that is often easier said than done. It is one of these occasions when you just don't want to leave it all up to luck. It is a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Everything should be just right. You want to spin a good story out of your professional skills but it shouldn't be too detailed nor too long. You don't want to appear tense or even anxious, but you don't want to appear too relaxed either. You want to memorize the answer to common interview questions, but they shouldn't come off as rehearsed.
Before the interview we generally advise our candidates to firstly know the job. What is the job and what is expected in this job. Only then you can refer correctly to the position you applied for and draw a line from your CV to specific details in the job description. Secondly, know the company and the individuals interviewing you. The sources are the company website, in newspaper articles, magazines and brochures about the company's recent activities. Besides making a great impression when slipping in one or two facts about the company or the interviewer, it will also calm your nerves and it makes it a lot simpler to present yourself as the right person at the right time.
No matter whether you will attend a telephone or face-to-face interview, prepare any documents you might need to consult during your call (CV, job description, quote achievements, references). Make sure you choose a time that allows you to talk freely without interruption.
Telephone interviews can be quite a challenge as it gives fewer tools to persuade the interviewer on being the right fit. A major focus at a telephone interview should be on your voice. It is the only channel available to communicate in a telephone interview so it is not only crucial what you say but also how you say it. Have you ever asked yourself why radio hosts seem so alive and happy? Practice smiling and tone of voice beforehand! We also advise candidates to get in the right frame of mind by dressing as you would for a face-to-face interview. It will make you more attentive than sitting at home in your jeans.
Many people prefer face-to-face interviews to make full use of body language and facial expressions. While it is an old piece of advise, first impressions are critical. An interviewer will usually make up their mind in the first 1-2 minutes and spend the rest of the interview gathering evidence to confirm their first impression. Your attitude is important. It should be positive, calm and dynamic. Friendliness, eye-contact and a firm hand shake are critical to set the atmosphere for the rest of the interview. Your entire body speaks. Even though you are nervous, try not to fidget. Be interested, enthusiastic, and – within reason – be yourself.
Though the interview will not always follow a set format, we recommend you anticipate some common questions and craft some compelling answers to them. The difficulty with many common questions is that most people give very common answers: try not to fall into this trap. If you are facing a difficult question, take a moment to think about a response. Consider an interview as a chance to present yourself.
Qualifications and most relevant experience
A typical opener. Remember that first impressions are key and the answer to this question might set the tone of the interview. This is a chance to demonstrate that you have given your career path some thought. Try to keep your answer brief. You could begin with an overview of your qualification (stick to the most relevant) and then go through your previous positions. Following the logical outline of your CV helps you to keep a clear structure in your head and also provides milestones for your interviewer.
Why this job? Why are you looking for a change?
During this response, the interviewer will listen very carefully. Stress the positive facts about your new role. Do not refer negatively to your old occupation. Explain how the position you are applying for is in line with your career path and vision of your future. This will communicate that you have an intrinsic motivation to change your occupation rather than a desire to get away from your old employer.
Your strong points?
This is one of the most common interview questions across industries and the right time to highlight your professional and personal strengths. Try to pick your three strongest points that you feel are the most important for the position applied for. Describe how your strengths can benefit the company in the specific role. If you are in doubt, the "candidate requirement" on the job specification is the section where the company points out what they look for in a candidate.
Your weak points?
Again you are advised to prepare three weaknesses. The trick is to choose examples that show you know your weaknesses and also illustrate how you deal with them. Explain for instance that you have difficulties presenting in front of large groups of people – then refer to seminars you attended to address this. It shows initiative and commitment to doing things right.
How do you deal with unknown challenges?
One approach here would be to stress your interest in this particular field. Explain how your strong capacity for adaptation has helped you to deal with difficult and unknown situations.
What's your ideal role?
At his point, knowing the job description comes in handy. Ideally, the ideal role should always be the job you are applying for. Name job features that indicate you are interested and hard-working, such as career progression, a good team atmosphere, challenging projects, and learning and mastering new skills.
Outlining criticism – or feedback, to use a more positive term – helps you to improve. Feedback should always be considered a very useful tool for international communication to assess and analyse the employees' efficiency, skills and overall development. Be sure to prepare thinking of a specific experience when you got feedback and how you made use of it.
Here is a chance to explain why you are motivated to work in this position. You could mention: new skills, pleasant colleagues, career prospects, further experience, new area, etc.
Working under pressure
The interviewer knows there is pressure everywhere. They are interested in how you reacted in specific situations. Try to find a specific example, so they can relate to the situation better.
Interests outside work
Be strategic: mention interests that can benefit the new role. Be aware that interviewers interpret your personal interests to find out, for instance, whether you are suitable for leadership or not.
Your salary expectations
Again, research can help you at this point. You should know what the average salary is for the role you are considering. Keep in mind what your current salary is, and be aware that the company knows their competitors’ packages. You will be asked for a P45 or equivalent by your new employer to set you up on the payroll system. Be realistic, and be prepared to explain your salary expectations (e.g. recently acquired skills, tax rates in different countries, etc.).
In 2 or 5 years’ time...
Give your interviewer a brief description of your future. Differentiate between short-term and long-term goals. Explain what steps you have already taken and what steps will follow to achieve these goals. Again, your research about the company will be useful, as you might want to relate your personal goals to the company’s targets. If you can do this, the interviewer will see a match between you and the organisation.
A good last chance to wrap up your “presentation”. Point out what makes you special. Stress similarities between your profile and the role description or company culture. Describe what you would bring to the company and how they would benefit from that. Why should they pick you? Imagine selling a valuable product. Sum up your skills and experiences again by drawing lines between your CV and the role.
An interview is not only there to answer questions. Most interviewers will give you the chance to ask questions after they have finished. Ask about what is important to you, and if possible combine an interest in the company with an interest in the job.
Example questions candidates might have:
Sales Roles: Close with the following: