5 Dos and 5 Don’ts To Ace Your Interview

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The job-hunting process can be long and drawn out. Many people battle their way through CV-writing and application forms, only to fall at the final hurdle. Interviews can be stressful – however, there are some steps you can take to improve your chances of getting the job. Follow these dos and don’ts to find interview success.

Do’s

Be confident

An overly nervous candidate will stick in the interviewer’s mind for all the wrong reasons. If you’re physically shaking and struggling to talk at an interview, how will you cope with pitching ideas to a large team, or meeting with important clients? It’s natural to be a little jittery, but don’t let it ruin your chances of getting the job. If you’re nervous, pretend that you’re not. Take some deep breaths before you go in, smile, and offer a firm handshake. If you’re acting confident, you’ll start to feel confident too.

Do your research

It’s not unknown for interviewers to open with the question ‘tell me what you know about our company’. If you perform poorly on the first question, you’re going to feel stressed and uncomfortable for the whole interview. Research the company thoroughly – check out their website, read any recent news articles about them, and investigate their market and main competitors.  If you know the names of your interviewers, you could even take a look at their profiles on LinkedIn.

Think of questions before you go in

The interviewer will always finish by asking if you have any questions for them. Saying no implies that you’re not interested in the company – and is a sure-fire way to stay unemployed. If you’re worried you won’t be able to remember them, write them down (in a notebook, not on a scrappy bit of paper). Good questions demonstrate either that you’ve researched the company, or are genuinely curious about the role you’ve applied for.

Be polite

It’s important to be polite to everyone you encounter at your interview – from the receptionist to the people you stand next to in the lift. Your interviewer may ask their colleagues what they thought about you – they’re the ones who’ll be working with you, after all. If you’ve made a bad impression on someone, it could harm your chances of getting hired.

Write it down

It may be tempting to walk out of your interview and try to forget about it – particularly if you feel you performed badly. However, it’s important to write down all of the details you can remember, while it’s still fresh in your memory. If you get offered a second interview, you’ll struggle to remember what was discussed – and you don’t want to spend the interview repeating yourself.

Don’ts

Don’t be late

If your interview is in an unfamiliar area, try to do a run-through the day before. If this isn’t possible, give yourself plenty of room for error when setting off. Google maps might say the journey takes half an hour – but that’s without traffic jams and late trains. If there are no delays and you find yourself there early, find a nearby café to wait in. Aim to arrive at the office between ten and fifteen minutes before you’re due to be interviewed.

Don’t lie

Most interviews are based around the information you provided on your CV. Interviewers will pick up on interesting details and grill you about them – if you’ve embellished your credentials, you’re going to find it very difficult to keep the lie going.  Many people ignore this advice – but beware. If you get the job, you’ll have to maintain your lie the whole time you work for the company. If you’ve lied about having a particular skill, it will be evident as soon as you start the job – and your new employer could fire you.

Don’t complain about your last job

Your interviewer might ask you about your previous position – try to be positive, even if you had issues. It’s highly unprofessional to criticise your past employers, and it won’t sit well with your interviewers. Instead, be positive – if you had a conflict with a colleague, explain what you did to overcome it. Demonstrating that you can calmly handle problems in the workplace will impress your interviewers far more than complaining about them.

Don’t sell yourself short

Rather than telling your interviewer that you’re a team player, give them an example of when you’ve worked well as part of a team. Better still, give two – although be sure to keep your answers concise. Some interviewers will encourage you to do this, asking ‘tell me about a time when you…’ questions. However, others will be less forthcoming, meaning that you’ll need to do the work yourself.

Don’t panic

Things often don’t go to plan, no matter how prepared you are. If something does go wrong (you’re late, you give a bad answer to a question, you trip up on your way into the room), there’s no point in panicking about it. It’s already happened and there’s nothing you can do to change it. Take a deep breath, smile, apologise if necessary – and keep going.

 For this post, Doostang thanks our friends at Under30CEO.

Image Credit: www.forbes.com 

 

Top Interview Questions to Expect for Financial Analyst Jobs, Part 1 of 3

Top Interview Questions to Expect for Financial Analyst Jobs, Part 1 of 3

Question Categories: Education and Work Experience

This is the first in a series of posts about how to best answer interview questions for financial analyst jobs, based on question categories: Education and Work Experience; Goals and Company Knowledge; and Technical Competence.

According to the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 236,000 financial analyst jobs in 2010 in the U.S. The job outlook for those seeking positions as financial analysts is also promising, as BLS estimates there will be 23 percent more financial analyst jobs (54,200 positions) from 2010 to 2020.

While this all sounds great, you will still have to contend with stiff competition if you’re looking for a financial analyst position with one of the top Wall Street firms or in a niche industry where there are fewer desirable jobs available. Acing your financial analyst interview is a must if you want to come out on top. And in order to succeed, you must take time in preparing for an interview and practice answering frequently asked interview questions.

Interview Questions to Expect by Category

Here are some of the questions you will likely be asked during your interview, along with some tips on how to approach questions about your education and work experience.

Education Questions

The interviewer will ask you questions about your education, how you spent your time in college and why you chose to focus on finance. Some potential questions include:

– Why did you choose to major in finance (or related degree)?

– When did you know that finance was the right career path for you (and why)?

– How did you spend your time outside of the classroom during college (what did you do for fun, what extracurricular activities did you choose)?

The interviewer is trying to find out if you have a passion for the finance industry. They don’t want to hear about the parties you attended, so if you can tailor your answers to experiences that tie into finance-related activities, you’ll be set to impress – as long as your responses are genuine.

Prepare yourself for this series of questions by asking yourself how your interest for a career in finance revealed itself (a job, a class, a competition, an article, exposure to a thought leader, a game, etc.) to you and how you chose coursework, study groups, finance competitions and the like to enhance your knowledge and feed your passion for the world of finance.

Work Experience Questions

The interviewer will focus on your resume and ask questions about past jobs in general, other entry-level finance jobs, volunteer work, etc. Some potential questions may include:

– Of the jobs listed on your resume, in which position did you feel the most pressure and why? How did you deal with the pressure?

– Tell me about a scenario where you made a mistake or missed an important deadline and how you dealt with it.

– What was the biggest challenge you overcame in a past job and how did you resolve it?

– Which on-the-job duties or experiences have frustrated you the most?

– Why did you leave your last position?

The interviewer is trying to assess your attitude toward the job at hand and what skills you use to overcome challenges.

Prepare yourself for this series of questions by making a list of the key challenges you faced in your work life to date, then think about situations where you can share a positive outcome.

It’s OK to admit that you faced some tough challenges, and even made a small mistake. You just need to show how you turned things around quickly and what skills you learned from the experience.

Most of all, the interviewer is trying to see if you can handle the pressure and do so with a positive attitude. Avoid talking about negative experiences, unless you can show how you turned that negative into a positive.

In part two of this series, we will take on the categories of Goals and Company Knowledge.

Photo Source: Shutterstock

Resources:

“Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Financial Analysts.” Available at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm. Accessed   Nov. 5, 2013.

Up Close and Too Personal – What to Leave OFF Your Resume

A resume serves as a reflection of who you are:  it contains your education, your illustrious work experience, various ways to contact you…  But then, a resume should never really reflect who you are.  We’re talking about the personal details – the little things that make you the fabulous person you are today, but that should really have no bearing on landing a job.

So whether you’re just starting to apply to jobs for the first time, or are a seasoned job search veteran, here’s a refresher course on things that you should never include on your resume:

Religion

If you’re not applying to a job at a religious institution, keep your views off the page.  It’s irrelevant to the job, and hiring managers are not allowed to take it under consideration anyway, so there’s really no place for it.  If you volunteer at a religious organization and you consider this experience especially relevant to the job you’re applying to, you can mention it briefly.  However, if you must include it, keep the organization anonymous and focus on your role instead.  For example:

Volunteer Instructor – once a week, taught a classroom of thirty children, ages 10-12.

Also, keep in mind that anything you mention in the resume is likely to come up during the interview, so include this information at your own risk.

Politics

Again, if you’re not going into politics, leave it off.  These sorts of matters are controversial in the first place, are irrelevant, and if anything, just take up valuable space.  Like with religion, if you consider your political experience extra valuable and relevant to a particular job – and just can’t bear to take it off the resume – avoid mentioning the organization name, and be prepared to discuss further during an interview.

Sexual Orientation

Sexual preference may be a key component to who you are, but it has nothing to do with how well you can perform on the job.  More than this, even though discrimination in the workplace is illegal, it still exists in some places, so don’t take your chances.

Age

Though you may be the perfect fit for the position, ageism in the workplace certainly exists, and you may be eliminated from the pool prematurely if you are perceived as being too old or too young.  If age is an issue, be cautious with including specific dates on your resume as well (most hiring managers can do the math).  So if your 30-year college reunion is around the corner, you might want to keep that graduation date to yourself and also leave off some of your early, less relevant experience.

Health and Disabilities

The law protects persons with health issues or disabilities, but again, you should leave this information off of your resume.  It’s irrelevant and opportunity for discrimination exists.

Criminal Record

The general rule with a criminal record is to be upfront and honest with a hiring manager, but the resume is not the place for this.  Wait until the interview to bring this up.

While you want to give the hiring manager a good idea of who you are, there’s definitely a point where you can become too personal in what you decide to disclose.  Always aim to flaunt how great you are on your resume – just be a bit discerning while you do it.

 

Tricky Interview Questions

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We’ve covered a lot of tough interview questions in past posts, and here we come at you with yet another round.  Sometimes interviewers ask us questions that are more on the tricky side.  It’s hard to know what to say – it often seems the best approach is to tell them what they want to hear, rather than the truth – and sometimes it’s just confusing why these questions are being asked in the first place.  Here are a few examples:

What Are Your Hobbies?

Why is this question relevant to the job you’re applying for, and why would the interviewer care enough to ask this in a formal interview?  Try to look at this question as a means for the interviewer to understand who you are a little better.  If you’re hired, you’ll be absorbed into the company culture, so the company wants to get a more complete picture of you as an individual.  Understanding what you do for fun can help the interviewer determine what your working style might be like.  It can also help them determine how a job will fit into your life, given what you do outside of your work.

How Would Your Coworkers Describe You?

Do you even know the answer to this question?  Could you really provide an accurate assessment of what others think?  This question is more of a way for the interviewer to find out what qualities you most value about yourself, as you likely assume that these are the same traits that others appreciate.  It also showcases how modest or overconfident you might be.  Here you might take the chance to describe some positive interactions you’ve had with coworkers, citing instances where you have collaborated with them on projects.  This will give you a way to back up your answer, as well as to imply that you are able to work well in a team.

Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?

This question is tricky because it’s hard to tell if you should speak about yourself in five years at that company – after all, you don’t want to appear presumptuous, but you also don’t want to seem disloyal.  And what if where you want to be is in the seat of the person who is interviewing you?  Instead of focusing on what specific position you see yourself in, try to think of things you want to have achieved.  In what areas will you grow the most?  What goals do you have for your career?  After you’ve considered these questions, you can then turn your answer around and talk about ways in which you will be able to accomplish all of this at the company you are interviewing for, speaking about how your growth will be mutually beneficial for you and the corporation.

Some questions during the interview can seem like time wasters – and some are.  But interviewers often have underlying points they’re trying to get at, even if it’s just to see how you’ll react to a specific question.  Try to prepare for an interview as thoroughly as you can and keep an open mind when tackling tricky questions like these.

All the best,

The Doostang Team

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While you can spend countless hours preparing polished answers, learning how to make great eye contact, and putting together a stellar outfit, one part of the interview that you don’t have total control over is the human element.  For better or for worse, much of what determines whether or not you’ll get the job is how you connected with your interviewer.  If that person doesn’t like you on a personal level, you probably won’t land the position, even if you’re extremely qualified.  That said, here are a few things you can do to make a great first impression:

Use Humor Sparingly

There’s no question that a little bit of humor can ease the tension and make the entire interview seem more comfortable.  But if your interviewer shoots you down with a stern look or a reprimand, your attempt at joking around can turn into a total buzz kill.  The best policy is to stick to something lighthearted that won’t offend someone on any level – after all, you probably know nothing about the person sitting across from you, and therefore you have no way of knowing what types of remarks they would consider to be in bad taste.

Wear Deodorant

This one is common sense. It’s important that you don’t sweat or smell in an interview, otherwise the interviewer will probably rush you out the door in order that they can breathe again.  Make sure to wear something that isn’t too stifling and try not to offer up a wet handshake.  And while it’s crucial to ensure that you don’t smell bad, on the flip side, you don’t want to drench yourself in a perfume that the interviewer will choke on.  Use perfumes and bath products sparingly, since, once again, you don’t know if your interviewer is allergic to – or can’t stand – a certain odor.

Don’t Be Too Demanding

It’s important to inform the interviewer of your job needs during the conversation, and this should come up naturally.  However, don’t get too carried away with making demands about your hours, salary, or office environment.  If you start laying down the law about needing a completely silent work area or a desk next to the window, the interviewer may simply move on to the next candidate who is much easier to handle.

Don’t Be Overly Enthusiastic

It’s important to show excitement for the job in an interview, but if you go through the entire conversation with a giant smile plastered on your face, you’ll come across as too intense, insincere, or downright weird.  You’re interviewing for a job, so try to be serious too.

Don’t Go Overboard with Questions

At some point during the interview, you’ll have the chance to ask a few of your own questions.  It’s crucial to have at least one or two of them ready, and these should be intelligent and relevant.  However, keep in mind that if you start barraging the interviewer with queries – especially if you’re simply asking these to prolong face time  – you’ll probably get on the other person’s nerves.  Asking too many questions can hurt you just as much as not asking any.

Knowing how to behave in an interview is a tricky matter – you want to go in and out with a bang, so that you stand out amidst the other candidates; but you don’t want to go so over-the-top that you offend or annoy.  Probably the best thing to keep in mind is that a job interview is about selling yourself to a company in a professional manner, and that the time to express your individuality and let down your guard will come later.

Good luck,

The Doostang Team

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Oftentimes we get caught up in worrying about the questions that a hiring manager is going to ask us during the interview, and overlook the questions that we should be asking them.  It’s important to lob the ball back into their court a bit, because it shows preparedness, interest in the job, and it helps you decide if the company is as good of a fit for you as you are for them.  Here are some questions to consider:

Questions About the Ideal Fit for the Role

You should try to feel out what sort of person they are looking for to fill the role you are applying to.  It’s helpful to ask questions like, “What was the last person who filled this position like?”, “What does the ideal employee look like?”, “What happened to the last person that had this position?”  It’s certainly okay to get a sense for what your predecessor was like, because those are the shoes you’re trying to fill.  The company will expect you to do just as good of a job with the things that the former employee did well; and that person’s weaknesses are areas you can try to improve upon.

Questions About the Work

It’s great to know what kind of work you will be doing and how you will be doing it, to figure out whether or not this will fit with your working style. Additionally, having a better understanding of the specific work you will be doing will give you a better idea of what you need to do to prepare for the job.  Ask, “What big projects are there that might be coming up?”, “Will I be working more independently or with a team of people?”, “What is your company’s management style?”

Questions About the Company

Since you will be a part of a larger whole once you join the company, it’s imperative to know that whole as best as you can, as early on as you can.  Example questions include, “What is the organization structure at the company?”, “What are the long term goals of the company and where do you see it going in 5 years?”, “What is the future of this industry like?”

Questions Related to Your Individual Experience at a Company

If you can, try to get a feel for office culture and the company’s attitude towards its employees.  This is a key determinant in how happy you will be at a corporation, and is important to know as soon as possible.  Some questions to ask are, “Is the office culture more laid-back or traditional?”, “Does the company provide guidance on cultivating career goals?”, “How often and in what manner will my work be evaluated?”

Remember, the interview isn’t just about a company finding out about who you are – it’s just as much about you finding out who they are.  The relationship between you and your employer should always remain mutually beneficial, and that starts in the interview!

Until next time,

The Doostang Team

Doostang News September 13: The Importance of Body Language

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You’ve heard that body language is extremely important in an interview, as it affects how interviewers relate to you and what assumptions they make. It’s stressful enough that you have to focus hard on giving polished answers to questions hiring managers fire at you, so paying attention to the positioning of your hands or the way you sit in your chair can feel overwhelming. That’s why you should work on perfecting these small moves now, so that they come more naturally when you’re in the hot seat!

What to do with Your Hands

From the moment you shake hands with an interviewer, what you do with your hands is extremely important. You don’t want to sit there with your hands underneath the table – during the interview, the person you are speaking with should always see them. It’s also important to make an effort to gesture. Even folding your hands nicely for the duration of the interview can seem too passive. Instead, use small hand gestures to compliment the answers you give. Conversely, you want to avoid gesturing wildly, as you can come across as erratic and will distract your interviewer. Try to keep your motions within the frame of your body.

Matters of the Face

Body language includes eye contact, and you should do your best to maintain that throughout the interview. Don’t lock in on your interviewer, as you may come across as a bit too earnest or even intimidating, but try to look your interviewer in the eye for the majority of the conversation. Some experts tell you to look at a person’s nose in order to maintain eye contact; if you do this, make sure that you’re really gazing at someone in a way that resembles eye contact instead of zoning out. Also be sure not to focus on the interviewer’s lips, as this can seem sexual. Another important point is that you should avoid touching your face. It looks strange, and some people believe that touching your face while speaking indicates that you are lying.

How You Sit in Your Chair

The way you sit in your chair at an interview is extremely important. By no means should you ever slouch, as it looks unprofessional and conveys that you aren’t very interested. On the flip side, sitting up so straight that you appear stiff is a bad idea too. You want to sit up straight in your chair, but you also want to appear natural and not nervous or uptight. Also try to lean forward a little bit in your chair – again, without slouching – to demonstrate involvement. When you lean back, you convey that you aren’t very interested or engaged in the conversation.

Body language is extremely important in an interview and completes the overall impression you make on an interviewer. Unfortunately, during the actual interview people are often too nervous to keep their body language in check, and tend to fall into bad habits. That’s why it’s important to take charge now and practice these things, so that when the big day comes, it will all seem like second nature!

Good luck,

The Doostang Team

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Here at Doostang we like to advise you on all the things you should be doing during an interview.  But it’s also important to know what sort of actions you need to avoid.  Some of these may seem obvious, yet jobseekers often make related missteps along the way.  So let’s revisit the basics:

Don’t Under-dress

If you are familiar enough with a company to know that the office culture is very relaxed, it may feel silly walking into an interview in a suit and tie.  Nevertheless, it’s important that you dress up for an interview.  Putting effort into your wardrobe shows that you take the company and the job seriously.  And even if the rest of the office is in shorts and T-shirts, they’ll appreciate that you care enough about the interview to dress up for it.  No one will judge you if you show up looking polished and professional – they might if you dress like a slob.

Don’t Talk on the Phone

It’s obvious that you should, by no means, answer your phone during an interview. But take that a step further and don’t talk on the phone at all while you are visiting a company. Before you even enter the building, switch your phone to silent, or, better yet, turn it off. Not only is it important to do this in order to avoid the temptation of answering it, but also it ensures that your cell won’t go off while you’re speaking with the hiring manager. The interview lasts from the moment you step foot in the door until the moment you leave, and it’s imperative that you show respect and remain alert. Silence is golden!

Don’t Get too Relaxed

While you want to give off an air of confidence, don’t get cocky and start slouching in your chair during the interview.  It’s wonderful to have a fluid, easy-going conversation with an interviewer, but if you are too much at ease, they might think that you don’t really care.  Remain alert and engaged, appearing more eager than cozy.

Stay tuned for more interview “don’ts”, and make sure to brush up on your interview “do’s”.  Now go get ‘em!

Until next time,

The Doostang Team