How to prepare for your job interview

When applying for a job there are normally a few stages that make up the interview process. The interviewer will be aiming to understand what skills you have, your motivation behind wanting to join the company, and importantly, they will also be assessing whether you fit the company culture.

The interview is not a one-way conversation. Not only will you need to respond to the interviewers questions showing how you can contribute positively to the business, but it is also important for you to determine how joining the business will be beneficial for you and your career.

The interview process can vary from company to company. Your first interview may be with the human resources manager or with the hiring manager and subsequent interviews may be with senior team members, or you may be interviewed directly by senior team members from the start.

It is important to remember that you will be up against many other candidates, so no matter how good you are, don’t underestimate the competition. The market is very competitive, so being prepared is crucial if you want to succeed.

1. Do your research on the Company

Prepare for the interview by doing your homework, this will involve researching as much information as possible on the company. You will find important information on the company website, however, you should also look for information on the news, LinkedIn and other informational websites such as Glassdoor which publish reviews, approval ratings, and interview questions. Networking will also provide valuable insights that can help you to prepare better for the interview process.

Whilst the information you look for will depend on the sector in which you are applying,  there are some generic questions to keep in mind when conducting your research:

      • Who will be interviewing you and what is their background?
      • What is the staff structure of the company? For example, who make up the team and top management and what is their professional and academic background?
      • What is the company strategy?
      • What is the latest company news?
      • What has been the company track record over the years?
      • What is the reputation of the company?
      • Who are their competitors?
      • What kind of company culture do they have?
      • What is the work/life balance like?

If you are interested in a job in the investment sector consider the following questions when doing your research:

      • What is the investment strategy of the company?
      • What assets and geographical locations are being targeted?
      • Where does their capital come from?
      • Is the money invested discretionary or not?
      • What does the company portfolio look like?

There is a good chance that you won’t find all of the information you are looking for prior to your interview. However, doing your research thoroughly will then help you to ask important and relevant questions in the interview.


2. Research the market

Do your research on the market so that you understand the fundamentals and trends of the sector. For example, if you are interviewing for a job in logistics investment look for relevant reports and information that are specific to this sector. Researching the market will help you to identify what challenges and opportunities there may be with the company you are applying to.

Your evaluation of the sector should cover as many aspects as possible that could in any way impact the company you are interested in working for, this includes understanding who the competitors are. During the interview you may be asked for your thoughts and opinions on the current market and you may even be asked for any investment recommendations you might have.

The more knowledge you possess and can convey about the business and industry, the more you’ll indicate to the interviewer what kind of employee you can be within the organisation.

3. Be structured and concise

In any interview it is important to remain structured and concise. The interview is an opportunity to show your communications skills so make sure your responses are clear and that the interviewer is following what you are saying. For example, if you are applying for an investment banking position you will be tasked with giving presentations, you will need to convince, persuade, summarise difficult analysis in simple terms, explain details, and so on.

4. Be clear on your experience and track record

Give real examples of what you have achieved. If you have prior experience in investment you should know your deals so that you are able to talk about them in the interview.  You will be expected to explain your experience and go into the details of your CV, so ensure that what you state in the interview correlates with what you have written on your CV. Don’t put anything on your CV that you cannot justify or explain further.


5. Show your personality

Interviews are not only an opportunity to discuss your skills and experience but also for you to show your personality – an aspect which the interviewer will be keen to find out more about. Finding the right person for the role not only means finding someone who can get the job done but also finding someone that will get along with others on a personal level. The interviewer will want to see that you have an interesting and engaging personality, that you are likeable. Being liked is crucial determining factor to your success in the interview and is linked to the importance of company culture. The significance of company culture shouldn’t be underestimated and the interviewer will want to see that you are able to fit in well, after all, you’ll be spending a lot of time with your colleagues.

6. Technical and numerical skills

In investment jobs, numerical and excel modelling skills are crucial. It is likely that you’ll have to perform an excel modelling test during the interview process. In addition to this, you may also be required to give a case study presentation. Make sure you are prepared by taking mock tests and looking over case interview examples.


7. Show what you can bring to the business

Many candidates, particularly those who are junior, want to join a company in order to learn and develop their skills. However, no matter what level you are entering the business, you’ll need to show how you can contribute positively to the business through your skills and as discussed earlier, your personality. Examples include being able to think analytically and from the right angles to being able to understand and execute projects confidently and expertly.


8. Anticipate questions

Anticipate the questions you’ll be asked and have your answers ready, ensuring your responses are well thought through and structured. Anticipating the questions can make a significant difference in how you prepare for your interview. Whilst there are generic interview questions be you’ll asked such as “tell me about yourself”, there’ll also be more specific questions such as ‘why real estate?’, ‘why consulting?’ or ‘why our company?’. Your answers should demonstrate what you understand about the company’s expertise and what separates the them from their competitors.

9. Prepare your own questions for the interviewer

Come to the interview prepared with well thought out questions in mind. Don’t ask questions that will lead to obvious answers. Asking the right questions can really make a difference in how you are perceived in the interview – so try to think outside of the box. If you join the company you will need to understand the road map so that you are able to run a project successfully, so ask questions relating to the role that show that you want to know and learn more.

When trying to join a company it is also important to project yourself; ask questions pertaining to your future progression in the company. A job interview should also involve you interviewing your potential employer so that you can determine if the company and the role is right for you.

And finally…

10. Show what interests you have outside of work

Think about any interests and activities you have outside of work that you can talk about in your interview. Your outside interests should support your experience and your reasons for wanting the job and should also reflect why you are a good fit for the company.

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