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Having a job interview can be nerve racking but we know you can ace it with our expert’s advice. Alice Au, Global Head of Financial Services Practice, Spencer Stuart, a global executive search and consulting firm, reminds if you fail to plan, you should probably plan to fail. This is particularly true for landing a job in financial services industry.
“Financial services industry does not hire massive amount of individuals. It simply wants the best and the brightest. Bear in mind, no matter which sub-sectors, employers always ask themselves how much time will they invest in the individuals in short and long term. Hopefully the person is going to be a significant contributor in the business.” says Alice.
Here are some situations a candidate usually comes across during an interview. Let’s see the way Alice nails them down.
1. “Just tell me about yourself.”
This is a typical get-to-know-you question. Bear in mind that most people in the financial services industry are busy, with very short attention span, so always keep your answers short, crisp and direct. Imagine it is an elevator pitch, you have very limited time to introduce yourself and talk about the main points.
To start with, graduates can tell which school and major they are from. Share the types of projects you have done and the lessons you have learnt. If the interview has a good start, it usually flows a lot better.
2. “What are your strength and weakness?”
Interviewees always want to know so-called tricky interview questions. But even simple question can be sly, all depends on how you handle it and draw the connections.
A weakness can be kind of strength, depending on how you position it. For example, you realize your weakness is not good enough time management, maybe too tied up with activities and hobbies. The most important thing is you are self-aware of the problem and try to fix it. Your introspection turns out to be a positive personality.
3. “Share with me any difficulties you’ve gone through.”
Many people in the financial services industry not only work very hard in the offices but also travel heavily. During the interview, they might think of “Do I really want to work with this person?”, “What if we are stuck in the airport or somewhere remote together?” or “What will happen if this person works under stressful situations?”
What they call for is good interpersonal skill and high EQ. A co-worker should be able to prioritize and handle his works properly even he is stressed out. When the candidate is asked about the hardship encountered, he should break down the problem into pieces and explain how he worked out the solutions.
4. Test your technical knowledge.
Brush up on the basics before the interview. However, the types of technical questions really depend on your major and the job role you are applying for. For example, if you are asked about how to construct a balance sheet or discounted cash flow, remember to use a framework to answer the questions. The structure helps you think about all the variables and present them in an organized manner.
Employers are actually evaluating your systematic thinking ability and problem solving skill. If you are a liberal arts student, do not worry. Financial services industry recruits a lot of talents from non-business disciplines and diversified backgrounds. Employers may not test your technical knowledge but again they would like to see how you react to some pressing situations. Craft your own story nicely, and use a structured framework.
5. Do your research!
To leave a positive impression throughout the interview, prepare well for it. Research the company and industry beforehand is a must-do. Google it or make a call to someone you know in that company. Get some ideas of the in-house culture and hopefully some interview tips. The dress code in a boutique hedge fund house can be totally like a technology company. The way you dress is the way you present yourself.