I’ve been invited to interview. How can I make sure I get the job offer?
Congratulations on getting an interview. They clearly think you can do the job otherwise they wouldn’t have invited you in. However, they are going to give you a very thorough due diligence review of your suitability before they will let you anywhere near their finance systems. Here’s our tips to help you prepare:
- Don’t make assumptions.
Even if you’ve already been working for the organisation and think you know the company, you should treat this interview as if you are an external candidate. Study the job description and selection criteria carefully. Think of examples that will reassure them that you have the requisite knowledge and experience and the personal qualities that are important for them e.g. team leadership, strategic, commercial acumen etc.
- Research the company.
Garner as much information as you can through talking to people in the company wherever possible, but also through internet research. Find out all about the work of the department and the larger company, its portfolio, the client base, its financial situation and business challenges. Compare the company with its competitors. How do they differentiate themselves? In your research, you will uncover lots of helpful clues about the role, the company culture and additional information about the type of person they are looking for, which you can use to your advantage.
- Craft your answers.
You may not know exactly what questions may be asked, but it’s usually easy to anticipate the kind of questions that will come your way. There will be questions about your strengths, weaknesses, how you work with others and handle difficult situations. You will need strong real-life examples to illustrate your answers and you need to have them ready-made so that you can easily share them on the day. Make sure you prepare an answer to the “Tell us about you…” question which often opens an interview. Rather than a personal history, it needs to focus on why you meet all of the elements of their selection criteria and your genuine enthusiasm for joining the company. If you make sure it is relevant, succinct and positive you will make a great first impression.
- Prepare for hypotheticals.
There are likely to be questions about your expertise, with often a hypothetical scenario to advise on. Make sure you are up to date on relevant impending regulatory issues which could help inform your answer. At interview they will be testing your finance knowledge as well as your critical thinking skills under pressure. They will want to see that you have taken into consideration the complexity of the scenario, both the technical and softer skills needed. Set yourself some hypothetical scenarios in advance and work through them, with particular regard to scenarios that are relevant to the kind of jobs you are applying for e.g. how do you diagnose and turn-around an under-performing company, mitigate risks, assess the potential of a new business opportunity.
- Check practicalities.
Always check what the format of the interview will be beforehand. Will there be one or several interviews, are there any assessments likely to be set, how long is it likely to last? Who is on the interview panel? Check them out on LinkedIn as this will help you feel at interview that you are in some ways already acquainted rather than meeting a complete stranger for the first time. Members of an interview panel are also likely to have different priorities, for instance the Hiring Manager may have a different perspective from another internal customer. Anticipate what these might be and what they will be looking for from you at the interview.
- Practice out loud.
Ideally arrange a mock interview with a career coach or someone else you trust. If this isn’t possible, then record yourself on your phone and play the audio back. Rehearsing your answers will help you recall them more easily in the stress of the interview situation, helping you refine your answers and deliver them confidently.
Corinne Mills is Managing Director of Personal Career Management, the leading specialists in career management and outplacement services who are the official Career Management partners for the ACCA.
As part of ACCA Member benefits, Personal Career Management offer ACCA Members a free career conversation and a 10% discount off any career coaching or outplacement programme.
If you are looking for help in reaching your career goals, or assistance with a practical job search strategy, then call Personal Career Management on +44 1753 888 995 for a confidential discussion or fill in their online contact form