10 Questions You Should Ask Before A Job Interview

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Getting a call for an interview can be so exciting that we forget to ask for important information. Having the following information before you arrive can make all the difference in winning the job.

1. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions about the interview?

Depending on the answer, you know if you can ask the rest of the questions, or if the person making the call is an administrative professional with no more information than your name, phone number and the interview time.

2. What times are available?

For many interviews, the person calling gives you a range of options on when you would like to schedule your interview. The best times are 10am, and during the early afternoon. Avoid these times…

  • 9am – the interviewer may not be fully awake and alert, and not remember you as well
  • 11am – the interviewer is thinking about lunch as much as listening to you
  • After 4:30pm – the interviewer is thinking about going home and may be tired

3. Can you tell me the names of the people I’m interviewing with?

Ask for the full names and job titles of the people whom you’ll be meeting. Get the exact spellings of the names if you’re not sure. Do research online on the interviewers beforehand. Knowing the background of the people you’re speaking with is a critical advantage, and you might even have some common connections, like universities or hobbies.

4. Is this a newly created position?

It’s good to know if the position is new, or someone else previously held the job. If it’s new, the interviewers may be expecting you to help them define the role. If it’s not new, try to do research on who had the job last and why they left. Go to Linkedin, and search for people at the company. Look for one who had the same job title as what you’re interviewing for. Depending on their current employment or lack thereof, you can get an idea of your predecessors performance, skills and achievements.

5. How long has the position been open?

It’s a bad sign if the position has been open for a long time. It usually means many candidates have been interviewed and rejected. The most common reason is the company isn’t attracting the candidates it wants with the compensation it’s willing to provide.

6. What is the salary and benefits?

Here’s a list of the most common responses and what they mean.

  • “The salary ranges between X and Y” is a good answer, because the company has an idea of what it wants to pay for senior and junior candidates.
  • “I don’t have that information”, might be a lie, and might not be, but you don’t lose anything for asking.
  • “It’s yet to be determined”, is a red flag. Salary estimators are free online, so this answer usually means the salary is low, and they don’t want to scare you off.

7. Should I bring anything besides my resume?

Nothing’s worse than a interviewer asking for a sample of your work when you don’t have any with you. Usually they’ll say no, but its great when they say “Yes, actually, you can bring a sample of your work” or something similar. Since it wasn’t in the job ad, you’ll be the only candidate with something that demonstrates your skill and talent.

8. Will there be a skills test?

Increasingly employers are using standardized tests to determine if the candidate is worthy of being given an in-person interview. Find out what tests will be given, and study hard before you get there. Don’t let yourself be ambushed by a test you didn’t know was coming.

9. Is the interview scheduled to end at a certain time?

Be prepared for the two extremes. If the interview is only 45 minutes, be prepared to present yourself and make all your points in that given time. If there is no scheduled end time, take your time and don’t rush. The last thing you want to do is cut an interview short because you need to go back to your current job.

10. Are there other open positions at the company like this one?

If there are, try to get information on them. Interviewing for two jobs gives you twice the chance of getting hired. If the position hasn’t been posted yet, you’ve gained a great advantage.

 

 

How to Spin the Negatives in an Interview

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A savvy interviewer or negotiator may try to destabilize your presentation (or subsequent negotiation position) by tying your hiring chances, compensation, title, or responsibilities to something negative in your work history.  If you have had some rough patches in your career, or you have had a manager who did not appreciate your style, it is imperative that you own those negatives and turn a question about them into an opportunity to either deflect to a positive story or demonstrate how you overcame those issues.

Here are some examples of negatives and how to deal with them:

You Were Laid Off from a Previous Job

There is no shame in being laid off; in fact, it happens to almost everyone at one time or another.  Come up with a breezy two-sentence explanation for the company’s layoffs, and finish with an upbeat recitation of the opportunities that the layoff presented.  For example, you were able to finish school, you toured Europe, you learned some woodworking, and–best of all–you were freed up to look for more meaningful work at a great company.

The trick here is to have a quick gloss for the layoff and then segue directly into a positive wrap-up that conveys equanimity and readiness to take on the next challenge.  Also, don’t be cheesy, but don’t underestimate a hiring manager’s desire to hear genuine enthusiasm about the new position and the prospective employer.

You Were Fired from a Previous Job

This one is a bit tougher, but you absolutely should have a packaged explanation at the ready when the subject comes up, and it’s likely that it will.  The best explanation will openly acknowledge that the situation wasn’t optimal and look for a way to tell the story with a positive ending.  Above all, you do not want to get bogged down in a long-winded explanation of how you weren’t wrong in the first place or how other folks had it in for you.  Even if you were mostly in the right, most hiring managers don’t want to hear the whole story–and will tend to sympathize with your former manager.

Instead, describe the problem in three to four short dispassionate sentences and then speak about what you have done in the interim to fix your contribution to the problem.  If you were fired for poor attitude, you might talk about how you started volunteering and realized how much you took for granted.  If you were fired for being constantly late, you might talk about how you saw a sleep specialist and now sleep 8 hours a night.  Most important, don’t lie about either the problem or the solution; a prospective employer may check your story and blackball you in the industry or profession if your story doesn’t add up.

You Quit Your Last Job

Assuming you didn’t leave your former employer without notice, there is absolutely no shame to this.  Characterize the decision as one you made, after careful consideration, to give you the time and icus to find a better opportunity at a great company.

If you didn’t quit your last job without notice and for a thinly justified reason–and you know there is potential animosity remaining at your former employer, we suggest employing an approach similar to that given above for explaining a firing.  Emphasize what has happened in the interim to develop your professionalism.

When, and How, To Bring Up Salary in an Interview

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There’s no telling when the salary discussion may come up in an interview, but bringing up your desired salary too soon could be a risky move. It’s important that your are able to present yourself, your abilities, and what you can contribute to the company before your price tag.

Employers want to get a sense of your salary expectations as early in the job interview process as possible. They will often press you to name a specific salary number or salary range. Avoid this for several reasons:

1.If you name a figure in response to a question about your salary expectations, it could be well above what the employer had in mind, and your interviewer’s thoughts will shift to another candidate.
2. If the figure is too low, you’ll be stuck with less than what the employer was planning to pay—and you may even come off as less qualified to boot.
3. The employer knows the responsibilities of the job better than you and therefore is better qualified to assign it a dollar amount. Once that happens, you are in an excellent position to discuss why you could bring more to the position than someone else.
Here is an example of how to avoid naming the salary first—even when explicitly challenged by the employer to do so:
EMPLOYER: Do you have a minimum salary figure in mind?
CANDIDATE: I have several opportunities I’m considering, and each one is a little bit different, so I’m taking all of the circumstances into account. Would you mind giving me some idea of the salary range for this position?

In most cases, a hiring manager isn’t going to drop you from consideration just because you dodge the initial salary question successfully. In fact, you may have a better chance at getting the job offer in the end because you had the opportunity to go through your value-increasing presentation first; other candidates who name a salary early in the interview process may never get the chance to present themselves fully, because the manager may be turned off after hearing their asking price.

8 Ways to Bomb Your Interview

 

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1. Go Casual

 You have this interview in the bag- who cares if you’re wearing jeans! You’re Gen Y! Steve Jobs doesn’t wear suits!

“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.”  – Mark Twain

I’m not suggesting you show up to your interview naked (although that would certainly end your interviewing excursion. Mission accomplished!) Ask the recruiter ahead of time, on the phone or email, about the company dress code. If asking is uncomfortable for you, play it safe with dress pants or slacks and a nice shirt and tie; or skirt and blouse. Even at a “laid back” start-up would be impressed with your professionalism. Better to be over dressed than…well, naked.

2. Arrive Unprepared

 You emailed your resume – certainly the hiring manager had time to memorize it, or at least to print it and bring copies with him. Right?

Bring copies of your resume to the interview. And having a quality notebook or leather-bound portfolio in which to take interview notes will add to the impression that you’re a professional. The more you know about the company and industry before the interview, the better. Do your research to learn the company’s history, major competitors, market niche, products, etc.

3. The Weak Handshake

This is a time-honored first impression killer. The interviewer enters the room. They greet you warmly, smiling, and extend their hand to grasp yours…this can be an awkward moment if you over-think it. Will your hands meet correctly? Will they land slightly askew, resulting in that quasi-handshake, half high-five event?

Use a firm handshake to indicate confidence and potential strength of character.  And definitely make solid eye contact with the interviewer! That will display some competence and social ability.

4.  Your Cell Phone Rings 

This is an easy one to forget since most of us are so completely tied to this little electronic second brain. Turn your phone off (completely off!) before the interview.  If you forget and it does ring, DO NOT answer it, or even consider sending a quick text while the interviewer’s head is turned. This is more inappropriate and annoying than couples who hold hands at the gym! The hiring manager will definitely notice your lack of social etiquette.

5. Your Eyes Glaze Over, Your Shoulders Hunch, You Yawn…

Your body language communicates loudly. Maintain eye contact with your interviewer. Sit forward- it shows active interest with your full body. Nod your head at appropriate times and ask questions throughout the interview. An interview should be a two-way conversation. Give your interviewer time to explain the opening and the company culture, but jump in with quality questions. By “quality questions” I don’t mean: “How long is lunch in this office?” or “I have a vacation with my boyfriend coming up soon. Is that ok?”

6. Show Me The Money!

You’re just starting out in your career – you’ve already earned a big salary! You should bring that up right away, right? Wrong.

Discuss the position first and foremost. Sure, being paid for your time and skills is how capitalism works! But focus on the job details first- discuss compensation afterward, once you and the recruiter agree that you’re the right fit.

Before the interview, research your industry’s salary rates and the cost of living for the area.  You’ll be prepared to negotiate a salary that will cover your living expenses and enable you to set aside savings for emergencies. Having a job is only great when you can afford to pay your bills. Being underemployed is just as hard as being unemployed.

7. Be Really Un-Friendly

With the exception of very technical positions, employers interview for skills, but they hire for personality. Most entry level skills can be learned through on the job training. The interview reveals if you will be a good fit with the manager and their team. (I once got a job where the interviewer was a big golf nut. I play golf, so we talked about golf the entire interview).

Don’t use polite manners, smile or have an engaging and articulate conversation with the interviewer – avoid these as they will most certainly encourage the hiring manager to consider you further.

8. The Follow Up

Your best chance of not being hired is to blend in with the tens, or sometimes hundreds of other applicants… like job seeking camouflage! Don’t fall into the forgotten pile- send a follow up letter after the interview; at the very least an email to thank the interviewer for their time and add a few memorable points from your discussion (maybe even a question or two that you thought of after the interview). Better yet, send an old-school hand-written letter.

Most interviewees send resumes and wait… or interview and hope. If you don’t want to get hired… don’t stand out.

For this post, Doostang thanks our friends at YouTern.

About the Author: Dave Ellis, is an original member of the YouTern team and instrumental to its success… in fact, he’s so awesome there wouldn’t be a YouTern without him (and he might have written this bio himself). In his spare time, Dave volunteers, rescuing and rehabilitating sea lions and baby elephant seals.

3 Interview Myths

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When it comes to the job search process, job seekers often have false impressions about how things work.  The interview is no exception, and understanding a few common misconceptions about the process can help you do a much better job – and hopefully put your mind at ease!  Read on for 3 big interview myths:

The Most Qualified Candidate Gets the Job

Okay, this is untrue for a myriad of reasons, with jobs going to individuals who know people on the inside, to those who simply reach out at the right time, and so on.  Bear this in mind during your interview, because it’s important to understand that you need to be professional, personable, and on your A Game at all times.  You can be the most fabulous job candidate on paper and in reality, but if you don’t bring confidence to the table, the job could go to someone who had better people skills and impressed the interviewer.  Conversely, if you know your resume may be lacking in certain areas, make up for it by giving a winning interview.

The Interviewer is Prepared for…the Interview

There are several reasons why an interviewer may not be prepared for an interview.  For example, this could be their first time interviewing a candidate and they may be nervous.  Or they could be bogged down with extra work – perhaps the reason they are hiring someone in the first place – and so they haven’t devoted proper time to preparing for the interview.  Thus, the more prepared you are, the easier the interview is for everyone, and the better impression you create.  Decide what you want to tell the interviewer beforehand, and do your best to find ways to mention your past achievements and what you can bring to the table.

The Interviewer will Ask All the Necessary Questions

Again, the person interviewing you might be distracted and might miss some important points. Or you might be speaking with a hiring manager who doesn’t know as much about the job as the person you will be working for, so the interviewer may not ask all the appropriate questions.  Thus, it is your job to bring up skills and qualifications you have that are specifically pertinent to the job, so that the person interviewing you can report these back to the individual who makes the final decision.  If they are the person who makes the final call, make the choice easier for them by addressing every aspect of the job description in a way that paints you as the perfect candidate.  There may be things that you want to bring up that the interviewer never asks about – if this is the case, don’t brush them aside.  Find ways to work these points into the conversation.

Interviews can be nerve-racking for individuals on both sides of the table.  And at the end of the day, an interviewer is just another human being.  If you can enter the conversation confident, prepared, and personable, you’re sure to impress.

10 “Lies” You Should Tell in a Job Interview

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Hiring Managers ask interview questions that are designed to give them reasons not to hire job candidates. These trap questions are meant to expose any problems you’ve had in your professional career. For trap questions, sometimes answering honestly is the wrong answer.

For example: If you’re asked about why you’re looking for a new opportunity and the reason is your boss is a total jerk (see #4), it’s not going to be in your best interest to tell that to the hiring manager or the potential boss sitting across from you. The Hiring Manager is trying to determine if you’re smart enough to lie.

Here are ten statements where you might do better stretching the truth in your next interview.

1. Every job you ever had was great.

What you’re really telling the hiring manager or recruiter is that you are a positive person. We’ve all had jobs we disliked, but it’s not a good idea to talk about it. Hiring Managers will think if you hated your last job, you might hate this one. Have at least one positive thing to say about every job on your resume.

2. Every project you’ve ever worked on was successful.

Hiring Managers don’t want to hear about your failures. Since we’ve all failed at some point, the key is to talk about your successes, and spin your failures to sound like successes. If you can’t frame a failure as a success, don’t talk about it at all.

3. You’ve done this type of work before.

Hiring managers don’t want “quick learners,” they want “experienced professionals” who don’t need training. Figure out ways to make your past experience sound like what the job requires. The more examples you can give of being experienced in what the job requires, the more likely you will look like a strong candidate for the position.

4. Your last boss was brilliant.

Your relationship with your last boss predicts your relationship with your next one. Don’t tell the hiring manager what an incompetent idiot your previous boss was. Instead, tell your interviewer your last boss was great, taught you valuable skills, and was an inspirational leader, no matter how big of a lie it is. It may hurt to glorify someone you hated who doesn’t deserve it, but it’s in your best interest, and doesn’t actually help your old boss at all anyway.

5. You’re currently working.

Hiring managers think in terms of supply and demand of candidates. If you’re employed, you’re in demand, and if not, there might be a reason. If you are unemployed, there are ways to fudge it. The easiest is to “self-employ,” either by labeling yourself as a self-employed “consultant,” or a new entrepreneur building your own business. Another technique is to volunteer at a not-for-profit, and list this position on your resume. You can also say you’re currently going back to school to get a better degree, but need to put it on hold and go back to work for financial reasons. The key is not to sound like your are doing nothing.

6. You love to work late.

What you’re really saying is you’ll work late if the company needs you to. If they ask why, say that “if you have to work late, then it’s a really important assignment, and it makes you feel good to know you can contribute more when it’s important for the company.” Employers don’t want someone who sprints for the door at 5pm, and refuses or resists working overtime when the situation demands it.

7. Every co-worker was great.

You’ve never had a single interpersonal problem with a coworker, not one fight, ever. Of course we all have, and the hiring manager knows it. The candidate who talks about past interpersonal problems, or even worse uses them as excuses, is the wrong candidate. Once again, past problems predict future problems in the eyes of a hiring manager.

8. You learned a lot in college.

More specifically, you’ve learned a lot that has prepared you for this exact job. Be prepared to cite the classes and skills you picked up which relate to the job requirements. Don’t invent classes or fake your degree, but show that what you’ve learned in college has prepared you for this role.

9. You almost never get sick.

We all get sick occasionally, but if asked, tell the hiring manager that you’re the type of person who leads a healthy lifestyle, and rarely calls in sick. Even though hiring managers aren’t really supposed to ask about this, some do, especially if you’re an older worker, or show signs of being unhealthy. Whatever you do, never discuss any past medical issues, unless absolutely necessary.

10. You have no personal problems.

We all have problems, but the key is not to discuss them in a job interview. Key examples are financial problems, family problems, and especially legal problems. Personal problems have the potential to affect a job candidate’s work life, and hiring managers are keen to avoid hiring people who have them.

 

Interview Questions for Top Financial Firms

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You’re on your way. You worked relentlessly on your résumé. You edited and tweaked until you got it just right. It didn’t end there. You practiced your pitch a dozen times, probably bugged a few friends for advice, and now you’ve done it. You’ve landed the interview. That’s right, the interview with a top financial firm that will hopefully get you a new position in the world of financial services.

The Phone Screen — Don’t Screw It Up

In most cases, due to the sheer volume of applicants across the sector, your first real interview may be via phone. Often referred to as a phone screen or informational interview, you’ll be asked to schedule a phone meeting to review your résumé and further the discuss the role. Sounds easy enough, right? (Especially given that you’ve read that official job description nearly 40 times, can most likely recite it, and want that job.)

It’s a candidate purge. It is important to bear in mind that the first point of contact will most likely not be the hiring manager. Why? Most large firms have a huge volume of applicants and a lengthy corporate screening process. It’s most efficient for an in-house recruiter to conduct the first round of phone interviews.

It’s about basics. For phone interviews, stay relaxed and speak conversationally without sounding overly familiar. Here’s what you may be asked:

• Why do you know so far about the role?

• Why do you want the role? And why with this particular firm?

• Let’s talk through your résumé. Tell me why you worked at Company X for just 5

months.

Be prepared for these common questions. If you get past this candidate purge, you will probably interview with multiple people on various levels before getting your foot in the door. From your phone screen, it will then be decided whether or not to pass you on the respective manager or hiring manager. And this is just the beginning.

Level Up: An Actual, In-person Interview

Interviews at this level usually include two parts.

Technical skills and aptitude: Once you get to the first in-person interview, technical knowledge will be tested. Be prepared to explain why you enrolled in that Advanced Economics course. Will you be open to a test? Of course you would be — after all, you’re a quantitative type and live for those complex balance sheets.

Top financial firms (and recruiters) are known to include a test as part of the interview process — be it a role for brokers, traders or investment banking desk jobs. Your grades may state one thing, but can you tackle a 12-page Excel file full of client data? Let’s hope so.

The long answers: Your aspirations and goals will, of course, come up during the big interview, and you must have reasonable answers that show thought, research, and ambition. This is when your fit and personality for the respective firm will come to the forefront. You obviously won’t say you want to be CEO in two years, but ambition won’t hurt, either. Remain humble, attentive and thoughtful in your replies. Your fit for the respective firm, how much you know about the culture, your expectations of the role and technical aptitude are what matters most. The same questions may even come up but in different ways by different interviewers.

Here’s a bit of what to expect:

• What makes you think you are a fit for this role?

• Why do you want to work for us?

• What will you bring to the role?

• Can you discuss capital flow?

• Can you walk me through a balance sheet?

• Are you open to relocation?

And expect the unexpected. Sometimes hiring managers ask unconventional questions — such as math problems, brainteasers or would you rather type situations — but it’s because they want to see if you can think on your feet. They also want to get a glimpse inside your thinking process. Stay relaxed and maintain your composure, even if you aren’t sure of your answer.

Send a digital thank you. Be sure to follow up in some fashion. A short, concise email is best. While pen are paper are nice, handwritten notes take time and may not arrive in a timely enough manner. Good luck!

About the Author: Dawn Kissi is an international multimedia journalist reporting on the business, finance and economies of the world’s emerging markets. She reports and writes on sovereign and geopolitical risk, as well as securities trading and the technology moving global exchanges and markets. She began her career in broadcast news at ABC News in New York, eventually movinginto print and digital journalism. She is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Salary Negotiation 101

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Salary Negotiation 101: 4 Tips for Getting More

Did you know nearly half of job seekers don’t even bother to negotiate job offers during the hiring process? Instead, most of them accept the job offer immediately!

Many people tend to avoid negotiation because they underestimate their value as a professional. Although not every hiring manager will initiate a negotiation, you need to take it upon yourself to show him or her how you’d be an asset to their company.

For some reason, job seekers are afraid of salary negotiation. However, what you need to know is 45 percent of employers expect to negotiate salaries for initial job offers. Remember, negotiation isn’t solely based upon salary. You can also negotiate benefits such as vacation time, healthcare benefits, and retirement.

If you’ve just received an offer and you’re not feeling fully satisfied, here are some salary negotiation tips to help get more of what you want from your job offer:

Do your research and know your value.

Prior to entering the negotiation, do your research. If you’re going to negotiate a job offer, you need to be able to explain why you deserve a higher salary or additional benefits. Use websites such as Glassdoor.com to evaluate the common salaries for the position for which you’re applying. If you find other companies are offering higher wages, you can present the employer with that information and encourage them to offer a more competitive wage.

Sell yourself to the employer.

Employers are looking to hire the perfect candidate for their position. If you want the employer to offer you a higher salary, you need to prove your value. Show them your experience and share your accomplishments to paint them a picture of what you can do for their company. When you can market yourself as an asset for the company, it will help your negotiation seem more valid.

Be calm and stay in control.

Remember, during a salary negotiation, you want the ball to be in your court. Sure, while you want to impress the employer and provide them with what they want, you also need to focus on your needs. Salary negotiations can be stressful, but if you can prove to the hiring manager you can keep your cool and stay collected, they’ll be more likely to accept your offer.

Be ready for objections.

Probably one of the most challenging factors of a salary negotiation is being able to respond to objections. Don’t be surprised if an employer questions your negotiation or doesn’t agree with your offer. After you present your salary negotiation, be prepared to answer any questions the employer might have. If you did all your research and prepared for the negotiation, you should be ready to answer any questions he or she may have.

The next time you are offered a job, remember not to accept immediately. You’re in complete control of your career, so it’s up to you to decide if you deserve more from an offer. Don’t be afraid to express to the employer how you feel about the offer. Salary negotiation is a very important part of the interview process. Don’t be like nearly half of job seekers who miss out on the opportunity to receive a better offer.

What are some of your salary negotiation tips? 

For this post, Doostang thanks our friends at Come Recommended.

Ace Your Financial Analyst Interview

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When applying for a financial analyst job, get ready to spend huge amounts of time and energy polishing and customizing your résumé and cover letter — they’re the entry point to landing a job interview. But once you get the call to meet in person, that’s no time to relax.

Now the Real Work Begins

Recruiters and hiring managers are quick to note that too many job applicants don’t dedicate enough time preparing for the most important part of landing of the whole process: the in-person interview.

Fortunately there are ways to prepare. Here are some tips for acing the interview based on conversations with financial services recruiters and active hiring managers.

1. Know the company and sector inside and out. You’re applying for a research job, so you had better show that you actually took time to research the company and its place within the financial world.
Study the company and make sure you’ve covered all these areas:

-History

-Size

-Services

-Fields of expertise

-Any recent big deals or acquisitions

-Names and backgrounds of the chief executive and the people who will interview you

-Recent press releases and any other up-to-date news about the firm

It’s all readily available via Google, Wikipedia, Yahoo Finance, Bloomberg, government regulatory agencies and other sites. While you’re at it, talk to friends, relatives and acquaintances who might be knowledgeable about a company — or at least its reputation.

2. Tailor your answers. Don’t treat financial analyst jobs as cookie-cutter positions automatically transferrable from one finance sector to the next — they’re not. Research the specific sector and expertise of each company you interview with and be prepared to tailor your responses so they’re a match.

3. Draw up a mental list of your strengths and weaknesses. It’s corny, but you’ll almost inevitably be asked a variation of “So, tell me your greatest strength,” or “What’s your biggest weakness?” Similar inquiries include: “Tell me your greatest success at a job,” or “What was your biggest mistake while on a job?” Create a list of what you think are three or four of your strengths and a few of your weaknesses.

4. Assemble a portfolio. To support your answers, review any past examples of research reports or other business assignments you’ve done as an intern (or as a junior analyst if you’re applying for a senior analyst position). Analyze the specifics of those particular cases, and be prepared to answer detailed questions about them. Bring the reports — along with any accolades from supervisors or teachers — in an organized portfolio to the interview.

4. Plan to talk about life experiences and career goals. Be ready for discussions about your career goals, college major, extracurricular activities, summer jobs, post-college jobs (if any) and other items on your résumé. One investment banker says he also likes to hear from candidates about non-business successes they’ve achieved in life. “I’ll say, ‘Tell me one thing you’ve really mastered and are good at.’ It can be music or painting or running road races. We want (to hire) someone who has already proven they’ve done something really well.” And whatever you do, be confident but not cocky.

5. Be able to explain why you want the job. One commercial mortgage banker, who asked not to be named, says he carefully explores a financial analyst candidate’s knowledge of his industry and why they specifically want to get into commercial real estate. “I want to find out if they’re serious about getting into (the field) and so I’ll ask them, ‘So, why aren’t you applying for a financial analyst job on Wall Street? Why are you here?’ ”

You’d better have an honest answer — with details about the type of financial company and position that you’ve applied for.

6. Be prepared for spontaneous tests. The same investment banker says he’ll sometimes verbally outline a general business scenario, such as one firm trying to buy another firm, and asks candidates, “So why would someone want to buy such a company? How would you go about researching that company?” Such “tests” are not meant to be trick questions. They’re meant to see how you might react and approach a problem.

If you’re working with a recruiting company to land a financial analyst job, they’ll often subject you to a number of assessments before you head out to an interview, says Richard Deosingh, a recruiter at Robert Half in New York. Recruiters might test how well you know Excel or if you can efficiently organize spreadsheets, for instance.

During interviews, companies rarely ask candidates to physically prove they know how to use Excel, PowerPoint and other software programs needed to conduct, analyze and present data in research reports. But they may ask you detailed questions about the programs or how you’ve used them in the past.

7. Ask questions that show your interest. Interviewers almost always invite questions from candidates. This is another chance to be personable and demonstrate interest in the job, so have a list ready in advance.

Some questions to consider include:

-What’s a typical day like for a financial analyst at this firm?

-What type of clients will I work with?

-Would I specialize in a specific field of interest?

-How did you (the interviewer) get his or her start in finance?

-What are the prospects for promotions?

Preparation is key. Practice, get your story straight — and you’ll be on your way to crushing the interview.

Jay Fitzgerald is a business journalist based in Boston. Over the years, his articles have appeared in The Boston Globe, the Boston Business Journal, the Boston Herald and other publications.

 

“Have You Ever Been Fired?”

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For some, the question “Have you ever been fired?” can inspire a pit in the stomach when the answer to that question is “Yes”.  You may be among an unfortunate bunch who had a horrific experience at a company (or with a certain coworker or boss), that did not end well.  And whether your termination was your fault or not, it can continue to haunt you in your search for future prospects.  So what is the best way to field this tough issue?

Be Honest

First things first:  don’t lie.  It may be tempting to dismiss the topic altogether, hoping that the company you’re interviewing with never finds out – but what happens if they do?  If they find out during the interview process, you’re certain not to get the job.  And if they find out a few years down the line, no matter how great an employee you are, they may still decide to let you go.  A second termination is not what you want on your record, so do yourself a favor and be upfront and honest from the get go.  It’s much safer, and you’ll stress about if far less in the long run.

Provide Some Context

Explain the circumstances surrounding the incident.  If it was a conflict of interest, let the interviewer know.  If it happened 15 years ago, tell them that you now have a lot of distance from the incident and that your stellar work performance since then speaks for itself.  If it occurred in the more recent past, explain that you have learned quite a bit from the incident, but don’t spend your time making excuses.  Lay down the facts, and focus on what you’ve done since and will do in the future to demonstrate that you are a valuable employee who understands what it takes to be an asset to a company.

Don’t Give Away Too Much

While it’s important to be forthcoming in your response to this question, you also don’t want to spend too much time addressing the matter.  Keep the focus of the interview on what makes you the ideal person to hire, and spend as little time as you can conveying what the interviewer needs to know about that particular incident.  People who feel the need to defend themselves tend to over-explain, and this can portray lack of confidence and lead you down the wrong road.  Certainly stray away from speaking ill of your former boss or company, remaining as objective and succinct as possible.

No one likes getting fired and everyone wants to find a new job.  Don’t let one obstacle in your past set the tone for the rest of your career.  Concentrate on what you need to do to land your next job and on the reasons you’re a perfect fit for it, and the rest will follow.

Have a wonderful day,

The Doostang Team