How to Prepare for a Job Interview: Complete Guide
Posted at 16/11/2023
Standing out in an interview means promoting your professional and social skills as well as possible so that the recruiter will show more interest in you than another candidate. If you want to maximize your chances during a job interview, there’s only one thing to do: be prepared!
The recruiters at our finance recruitment agency reveal the secrets to preparing properly so that you can stand out from other candidates at your next job interview.
Why is preparing for an interview so important?
Preparing for an interview involves much more than gathering basic information about the company and rehearsing your answers to common questions. Preparation is the foundation of your interview success, and here's why.
Imagine yourself in the recruiter's shoes. They're looking for a candidate who will add real value to their team. When you walk into the interview room prepared, it shows. Your confidence in yourself and in your skills is perceptible, which sends the message to the recruiter that you're ready to meet the challenges of the job.
Adequate preparation will help you to answer questions in a precise and focused way. You'll be able to highlight your skills and achievements with conviction. Instead of fumbling for answers, you'll be able to clearly demonstrate your expertise and show that you understand the position you’re applying for.
Being interviewed can be a stressful experience, but solid preparation can also help alleviate that stress. If you've thoroughly researched the company, the position and your own skills, you'll be better equipped to handle tricky situations and answer tough questions. By carefully preparing for your interview, you reduce the number of unknown factors to contend with. You'll know what to expect, what questions to ask, and how to approach discussions. By minimizing uncertainties, you will be in a strong position to negotiate an offer later. <H2> Preparing for the interview
Pre-interview preparation is crucial if you want to stand out, as it allows you to base your performance on solid research and thoughtfulness. Here are the essential aspects to consider for effective preparation.
Understand the company and the business sector in which it operates
When preparing for an interview, the first crucial step is to dive deep and learn about the company you're considering joining. This is not just a preliminary step, it's the foundation of your preparation.
Understanding your potential employer and the business sector in which they operate will allow you to show that you're genuinely interested in the position, and that you've taken the time to inform yourself. This strengthens your credibility in the recruiter's eyes.
- Analyze the company's mission and values: Begin by familiarizing yourself with the company's mission and core values, so you can understand the company’s culture and determine whether it matches your own values.
- Study the company's history: Explore the company's history, including its growth, past successes and any challenges it has faced and overcome. Identify key moments in its development.
- Know the competition: Familiarize yourself with the company's main competitors. This can give you an insight into the company's position in the market.
- Recent news: Explore recent news related to the company, such as announcements of new projects, acquisitions or partnerships. This can help you discuss current topics during the interview.
Analyze the job and its requirements
Before you go to the interview, it's imperative that you have a thorough understanding of the position you're applying for, and what it entails. Analyze the job description carefully to identify the skills and qualifications required. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What are the main responsibilities of this position?
- What specific skills and experience are required?
- How does my own background match these requirements?
A thorough analysis of the position will enable you to personalize your answers during the interview, highlighting skills and achievements relevant to the role.
Research market trends
Effective preparation also includes knowledge of current market trends in your field. Explore recent developments, new technologies and challenges affecting your industry. You can do this by consulting specialized articles, industry publications, or even expert blogs.
Knowing what's going on in the sector will help you show that you're up to speed on current challenges and ready to tackle them. It can also help you formulate relevant questions to ask the recruiter during the interview, demonstrating your interest in the company and its sector.
Anticipate interview questions
Prepare yourself for questions commonly asked in job interviews. These questions may vary, but some come up frequently. For example:
- "Tell me about yourself."
- "What are your strengths and weaknesses?"
- "Why do you want to work here?"
- "Can you give me an example of a situation in which you demonstrated leadership?"
- "Why should we hire you?"
By anticipating these questions, you can develop clear, concise answers that highlight your relevant skills and experience. Practice your answers aloud or with a friend until you feel confident answering them.
Getting ready for the big day
The day of your interview has finally arrived, and it's essential to prepare carefully to maximize your chances of success. Here are a few key tips to ensure that everything goes smoothly on interview day.
Bring all relevant documents with you
The first golden rule for a successful interview is to make sure you have all the essential documents with you. Nothing can be more frustrating than realizing at the last minute that you've forgotten an important document!
- Bring several copies of your CV, in case there are several interviewers or if the recruiter needs it for reference.
- If you've submitted a cover letter with your application, make sure you have a copy with you.
- If you have references, prepare a list of trusted people you can provide if asked. Remember to bring a portfolio if you have projects to present to the recruiter.
- A valid identity document may be required for verification. Make sure you have it with you.
Take care of your appearance
Dress is an important part of the first impression you make at an interview.
Opt for professional attire that is suited to the company's sector of activity. Simple, neat clothing is usually the best option. It may seem obvious, but clean, well-ironed clothes that are in good condition are a must. Take care of your personal hygiene too.
Also, avoid excessive or flashy accessories that could distract from the occasion. Opt for simplicity and sobriety!
Arrive on time, or even a little early
Arriving on time is crucial if you want to demonstrate that you are professional and respectful. It's best to arrive even a few minutes early, to show that you're serious about the interview.
Before the day of the interview, if it's in person, plan your route to the interview location. Consider traffic, public transport and any other factors that might influence your arrival time. It's better to arrive a little too early than to be late. Allow enough time for any unexpected delays. If you arrive early, wait discreetly in the lobby or outside. Avoid arriving at the company office too early.
What can you say at an interview to stand out from the crowd?
You need to choose your words carefully to set yourself apart from other candidates, while remaining authentic and honest. Effective communication is the key to convincing a recruiter.
At the end of the day, there's nothing you can say in an interview that will be dramatically different from what they have heard before. Don't differentiate yourself to the point of sounding like an alien, but by showing confidence and thorough knowledge of the offer, your calm attitude will go a long way to setting you apart.
A polished pitch
Your personal pitch is your opportunity to captivate your audience right from the start of the interview. It should be memorable, giving an overview of your background and aspirations.
Start with a brief introduction of yourself, follow with a summary of your professional background, highlight your soft skills and finish with a statement about your enthusiasm for the position. Keep your pitch short and punchy, ideally under a minute long. Avoid getting bogged down in details.
Talk about your added value
It may seem like a harsh comparison, but once again, think of yourself as a product. Putting the emphasis on your added value is actually the key to succeeding in your job interview and differentiating yourself from other candidates!
You need to present yourself as a unique candidate who will bring significant value to the company. Remember to highlight your skills, experience, achievements and any attributes that set you apart. Point out what would make you a valuable addition to the company. Give concrete examples of successful projects or situations where you've made a positive difference.
Answer questions properly
Answering questions clearly and getting to the point shows that you can communicate effectively and adapt to a discussion. If you've prepared yourself for potential questions, as mentioned above, you should be able to handle them well!
When answering behavioral questions, use the STAR structure (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to present concrete examples of past situations. This shows your ability to solve problems and achieve results.
Adapt your answers to suit the position and the company. Highlight the skills and experience most relevant to the role.
Ask your own questions
Asking questions demonstrates both your interest in the company and your ability to think critically.
Before the interview, prepare a list of questions to ask about the company, the position, the corporate culture and even your salary expectations. Avoid questions that are too generic – recruiters can identify these from a mile away! Ask real questions that flow from your conversation. Listen carefully to the answers and ask follow-up questions based on what you hear to show genuine interest. <H2> Non-verbal communication
Dealing with a recruiter can be stressful. You need to be confident and have a positive attitude. In this regard, your clothing, gestures and non-verbal communication are important. Your personality can be decisive for your future. Keep in mind that enthusiasm, passion and tone of voice are all elements that transmit positive energy. With a firm handshake, a sincere smile and a candid look, you will stand out from the very first seconds.
Make yourself stand out even after the job interview
During the interview, you watch for signs that the interview has gone well, and afterwards, you cross your fingers hoping for a call back. Keep in mind that you can add a bonus point to your application by sending a follow-up email to your recruiter. Write a thank you message within 24 hours. Use this opportunity to discuss a part of your meeting that you particularly enjoyed. Whether a championed corporate value or an attractive goal, find the detail that will impress your audience.
Don't underestimate the value of this advice: it can often make the difference with recruiters, especially when they're hesitating between two or three applications. We're not telling you to be overzealous, which could sound hypocritical, but simply to emphasize your genuine interest in the position. 😊
You're ready for your interview! Come on over to Fed Finance!
You are now equipped to make your mark when you are called for a job interview. Apply these tips no matter what industry or position you have applied for and you will have a good chance of moving to the next step in the candidate selection process.
For more advice on job interviews, or if you need assistance in your finance job search, contact the Fed Finance team. With a strong presence in Montreal, our team of recruiters will help you find a position that matches your career aspirations.