Whether you have years of experience in the finance space or you’re just starting on a new career path, finance job interviews can be a daunting prospect.
The interview is your best opportunity to make a positive and lasting first impression on your potential employer. As such, effective interview preparation is key.
Taking time to evaluate your employer before the interview, construct responses to common questions, and plan your strategy will give you the confidence to connect with your potential employer.
With a little preparation, you can overcome your nerves and give yourself the best chance of earning the job offer you want. Here are our top tips for success.
Step 1: Researching the Company and Role
Research is a crucial tool in your interview preparation kit. It’s one of the easiest ways to define yourself as a stand-out candidate and differentiate yourself from other applicants. Fortunately, learning about your potential employer and the role you’re applying for should be relatively easy.
Visit the company’s website to learn more about the brand’s goals, missions, and values. Find out what they’ve accomplished recently and what strategies they’re currently working on.
You can also use this time to gather insights into company culture, examine stories from existing employees, and reviews left on career and job sites. The more you know about the company’s culture, the more you can tailor your interview responses to showcase cultural fit.
Next, dive into the details of the role you’re applying for. Read through the job description carefully, and make notes of anything you’re uncertain about. Find out what skills you will need to demonstrate in your interview, what sort of experience is required, and what the structure of the role looks like. For instance, are there opportunities for flexible working available?
As well as researching your potential employer and role, it’s worth assessing the current financial market and the industry challenges or trends that might affect the company. This will allow you to show your understanding of the financial space.
Step 2: Mastering Technical Skills
Most finance job roles require candidates to have a combination of core soft skills and technical skills. Your technical skills include knowledge of accounting processes and software, creating insightful reports, and understanding research and analysis.
Based on the technical skills listed in the job description provided by the company, it’s worth taking a few steps to refresh your knowledge so you’re prepared for technical questions:
- Review and refresh core finance knowledge: Make sure you’re up-to-date on the core methodologies and technologies employees use in your career. Consider taking online courses or joining webinars to refresh your industry insights.
- Studying terminology and concepts: Brush up on trends and concepts in the financial landscape relevant to your role, and make sure you’re familiar with any terminology the company might use during the interview process.
- Practice your analytical skills: Many financial job roles require professionals to have extensive analytical abilities. Familiarise yourself with financial modelling techniques like discounted cash flow analysis, ensure you’re comfortable with common spreadsheet software, and practice analysing financial reports.
Plenty of online tutorials, textbooks, industry publications, and financial websites can help you refine your knowledge if you’ve been away from the industry for a while or you’re moving into a new role. You can also consider seeking advice from mentors and peers.
Step 3: Prepare for Competency-Based Questions
Competency-based interviews are common in the financial world, allowing interviewers to examine your skills and knowledge in a more in-depth format. Your finance recruitment agency will be able to offer some insights into the common types of competency-based questions financial companies often use.
However, you usually expect to encounter questions such as:
- Describe a situation when you led a team toward a specific goal
- Share an example of how you handled conflict in the workplace
- Explain how you used your communication skills to address a problem
- Describe how you would conduct a cost analysis for this project
The questions asked by your interviewer will revolve around the key competencies the company is looking for in a candidate. You can often determine crucial competencies for each business by examining the job description they post. Look for references to skills like adaptability, communication, conflict resolution, leadership, or decisiveness.
The exact response you give to any competency-based question will depend on your background and experience, but it’s often best to follow the STAR format:
- S: Situation: Describe the situation you were confronted with.
- T: Task: Outline what needed to be done.
- A: Action: Explain what you did and how you did it.
- R: Result: Describe the outcome of your actions.
Use statistics, authentic information, and honest anecdotes to enhance your response, and try to relate your question to the role you’re interviewing for.
Step 4: Practicing Mock Interviews
If you’re nervous about an upcoming interview in the financial industry, practising mock interviews can be a great way to build your confidence. Choose someone you can trust to go through a series of common interview questions and respond as though you were in the interview.
The person conducting your mock interview should be someone you can trust to provide real, honest feedback about your body language, language use, and ability to shine when answering each question. You can consider working with a career coach, a mentor, a peer, or a trustworthy friend or family member.
Try to make the mock interview as realistic as possible by setting a specific interview time and hosting the conversation in a professional session. Dress as you would for the interview, and ensure you’re prepared with all the right resources.
Step 5: Showcasing Soft Skills and Interpersonal Abilities
While demonstrating your technical knowledge and expertise in an interview is important, it’s crucial to show the right soft skills too. An interview is an excellent opportunity to showcase your communication and presentation skills.
Preparing clear and concise answers to questions, demonstrating knowledge with facts and statistics, and bringing the right resources to the interview can make you more memorable.
Use your responses to competency-based interview questions to highlight your soft skills too. Explain how you’ve worked with teams in the past if collaboration is important to the company. Show your leadership skills and experiences, and demonstrate problem-solving and decision-making abilities. Remember to talk clearly and use straightforward language to improve understanding.
You can also demonstrate soft skills by preparing the right questions to ask during the interview. For instance, you can research the company’s recent achievements and projects and ask how to get involved to show intuition. You can also inquire about the company culture and management style or ask about future opportunities for growth and development to show commitment to the role.
Step 6: Mastering Body Language
What you say is important in an interview, but how you say it is just as essential. Thinking about how you will present yourself during a conversation with a hiring manager can prevent you from making a negative first impression.
Start by making sure you dress appropriately. In the financial industry, it’s common to see employees wearing suits and professional clothing, so dress accordingly – even if you’re interviewing using a video conferencing tool. Practice good posture, and sit up or stand up straight during the interview to demonstrate engagement and active listening.
Think about building rapport and squashing nerves with your body language. Make eye contact, smile regularly, and avoid fiddling with papers and documents. If you need a moment, breathe deeply, and check your posture for any signs of anxiety.
Ace Your Next Job Interview with Preparation
Preparing effectively for a job interview is one of the best ways to improve your chances of receiving an offer. Designing for different questions, research, and managing your body language ensures you can make a positive, lasting impression on a hiring manager.
Remember, a professional financial recruitment agency can also help you boost your chances of interview success by providing information about the company, insights into the questions they might ask, and tips for making a positive first impression.
About Rebus Financial Recruitment
Rebus Financial Recruitment provides a specialist and focused recruitment service to its customers, ranging from various organisations, including SMEs, to large PLCs.
We strive to offer both the client and candidate a seamless recruitment experience. Using our expertise, we get to the heart of employer and employee needs, and, in doing so, we match the two perfectly.
To learn more, contact one of our team today, or call us at 01282 930930.