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Interview tips for finance professionals

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Preparing for an interview can be a job on its own, especially for candidates who have been in their current role for some time and haven’t interviewed for a while. 

Many experienced candidates also find it difficult to prepare for interviews when they’ve had a lot of experience, and don’t know where to start.

I meet with a number of seasoned and experienced senior candidates and make it a priority to invest the time in preparing them for interviews in order to give them every chance possible to stand out from the crowd.

Below I have summarised some key tips I give my senior candidates when preparing them for interviews.

Get to know your audience

Ensure you do research on the interviewer's backgrounds and really understand their roles in the business - take particular note of firms they’ve worked with and how their careers have progressed.

Such information can turn into excellent discussion points, for example, if you’ve worked in the same companies previously, or, if you were particularly impressed with the interviewer’s career progression within the firm you are interviewing with.

Knowing a bit about your interviewers will help to build better rapport with them.

Know the role

This is more achievable if you are going through a recruiter as you can utilise their relationship with the interviewer/company to ensure that you have a full understanding of the role that you’re interviewing for. 

There may be some “nice to have” skills that you happen to have, which are not explicitly stated in the job description which a recruiter can highlight to you. 

Being made aware of this will ensure that you spend time covering such skills in the interview instead of the interviewer assuming you don’t have them.

Know why you want the role

Understanding the role you’re interviewing for is very important, but knowing why you want the role is equally as important.

There have been many times I’ve had senior candidates tell me that they don’t make it through to second rounds of interviews. Generally, the feedback they’ve received was that they didn’t convince the interviewer they wanted the role enough.  

For a senior candidate who has a wealth of experience and is interviewing for a role which may appear to be a lateral step, interviewers will be questioning why the candidate really wants the role.

As such, it’s very important you know why you want the role so you’re ready to address any hesitations the interviewer may have. 

Know the company

It goes without saying to make sure you research the background of the company, taking note of any key events or news in more recent months - key senior moves, successes, structural changes etc. 

Demonstrating an understanding of the company displays your genuine interest in the company and enthusiasm towards the role.

Prepare questions

You know you’re doing well in the interview if you’ve been doing the majority of the talking.

However, this could also mean that you may not have had the chance to ask questions which will help you to form a better understanding of the opportunity on offer. 

Interviewers will always give you the opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview and I always encourage candidates to ensure they prepare well for this part of the interview.

There are some questions that only the interviewer can address, particularly if they are more commercially sensitive and not something the interviewer would openly share with recruiters.

When you have prepared relevant questions to ask the interviewer, it once again demonstrates that you’re genuinely interested in the role and will help you stand out from other candidates.

These tips should put you on the right track with your interview preparation and ensure that you are a memorable candidate that stands out from the crowd. 

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