Interviews can be scary. Between talking about your experience without talking too much, being easy-breezy but not too casual, and trying to hide your nervousness under your best business suit, there are many of factors that can result in a good (or disastrous) job interview.
In the financial services sector, like in many industries, the interview stage is when companies determine if you’re a good fit for the job on a personal and professional level.
We spoke with Nancy Moulday, Manager Recruitment at TD Business Banking, to find out what sums up to a great interview in the financial services:
Know the job posting
“In preparing for the interview, it’s important to take a look at those traits and behaviours that the interviewer and company are looking for,” says Nancy. Therefore, she says, let the job listing be your guide when gearing up for the big day.
When creating a job description, companies highlight the behaviours and skills that they’re looking for in applicants. The key points outlined in the listing will give you a framework for answering some of the general questions (e.g., “Describe your greatest success”) and an opportunity to practice.
Nancy adds that you should take care to not over prepare – interviewers aren’t looking for the perfect answers word-for-word. Just be able to reflect back on your experiences and have examples that fit the job description at the ready.
Ask what to expect
Different jobs will require different styles of interviews. It is completely within the rights of the candidate to ask the interviewer what to expect from your interview, says Nancy.
She says most companies are very up front about what form the meeting will take and are happy to share it with candidates to help them better prepare. In the financial services industry, it is particularly important to ask these questions in case testing will be involved, such as a financial statement analysis or business case review.
Knowing what’s involved in advance will ensure that you show up to the interview with the necessary tools (e.g., calculator, pens, etc.) and the necessary knowledge.
Bring a portfolio
Interviews are an opportunity for you to showcase how great you are, and it’s important to have the paper to back it up.
Nancy recommends that all candidates show up to their interviews with two copies of their resume – one for their own review and one for the interviewer. She says you should also put together a binder or folder that contains the job listing, two copies of your resume, cover letter, and any other documents that were specifically requested in the job description.
Additional documents can include things such as proof of specific accreditation, reference letters and any previous work that you may be discussing during your interview.
When it comes to anticipating what interviewers are going to ask, Nancy says it’s helpful to check back with the job listing. In her experience interviewing candidates, she says the job description will highlight things like customer service or leadership, and therefore the interview questions will also be looking for those traits.
On the flipside, Nancy recommends that students come prepared with a few questions of their own. Having things to ask your interviewer shows that you’re interested in the position and the company.
For instance, asking the interviewer why they like working at that specific company will demonstrate that you’re interested in learning more about the organization. Inquiring about career progression, how much time people typically stay in each role and what you need to move upwards in the company will show that you’re interested in a career and not just a job.
Also, to maintain your sanity, be sure to ask when you can expect to hear back from them regarding the position.
Like my mother loves to say: “Never underestimate the power of saying thank-you.” Follow up with employers after each interview to thank them for their time and briefly reiterate your interest and eligibility for the open position.
In the financial services world, new hires are often working with clients or customers and, therefore, Nancy says that this type of note reflects well on the courtesy and professionalism of candidates.
Photo credit: Calculator, Pen and Calendar by photosteve101on Flickr