As many of you have no doubt experienced, the interview process can often be an emotional and challenging experience. With all the energy that can go into the preparation, a lack of reciprocity can really knock some of us off balance. If prepared for and entered into properly however it will lead to positive future outcomes even if you don’t receive the job offer this time round!
The key advice I give to my candidates when preparing for interview includes the following :
1/ Do your company research!
An interviewer will realise within 30 seconds whether you have researched their company properly. Please don’t insult them by not trying!
You must have a good understanding of the company’s core services, its recent successes, its cultural identity, its global footprint and its competitors. Repeating the corporate message from the website ad nauseam will not cut it. Go the extra distance by reading the annual and half annual financial report and listening to company podcasts on the company website or Youtube if available. This shows you have tried to get genuine insights and are passionate in joining them. This research should also give you an idea of the key risk or compliance scenarios the firm will face.
2/ Do your research about the hiring manager too!
Try to get as much information on their background, the team members, recent hiring patterns (timeframes) and growth. If working with a recruiter then they should be able to share this information.
3/ And do research about why the role has become open
Replacement (internal/ external move), incremental hire (if so why is the team growing – commercial success, regulatory response)? Has the organisation been in the press for risk or compliance failings? You should research this to go in with your eyes open and avoid any awkward questions. Again recruiters should help share this.
4/ Know your CV word for word
Again this sounds obvious but you should know your CV word for word. If you have referenced some risk or compliance technical coverage which is light, make sure that you can sound authoritative and cite solid examples. If you collaborated with external consultancies on risk or compliance frameworks, be honest on the scope of your involvement. Interviewers can exploit uncertainty or hesitation very quickly and the psychology changes. Remember that you would not be speaking to the interviewer if your CV did not suggest that you have the immediate technical skills or the foundation skills to do the job.
5/ Be prepared to discuss your personal interests – you should always provide these details on your CV
Even if you may not be the best technical fit for the role, common interests and living a full life make you a memorable candidate. They are also essential for building engagement. The interviewer may want to find out more about you, especially if this is a more advanced stage interview. Citing ‘reading, travelling and running’ is definitely not enough. Provide details and examples ie “ Reading – Detective novels and Nordic noir, Travelling – SE Asia (Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia) and Europe (Italy, Spain, Sweden, Ireland), Running – part of a City running club and have run 2 ½ marathons and training for my first full marathon in London’. Being passionate about your personal interests speaks volumes.
6/ Be Confident
Confidence and making the first move (polite introductions) can often be very reassuring to an interviewer. They will usually be looking for someone with energy and enthusiasm that can be a key part of a team as well as having the potential to take on responsibility. Additionally they will want to assess whether you can challenge commercial stakeholders in a confident yet diplomatic way. A key part of every risk and compliance professional’s role.
Most interviews are a blend of technical and behavioural questions with the latter becoming increasingly scenarios based. Be prepared for this.
Research and preparation is a great basis for building confidence for the interview itself.
7/ Show intuition
Most private firms are now working to an increasingly agile model. Training materials and one-to-one coaching are readily available (in some cases even more so) but with the evolution of the work environment, a capacity to think intuitively and take personal responsibility is very reassuring to an interviewer.
Demonstrating intuition in the interview context will include trying to manage a risk or compliance scenario with which you are unfamiliar with a rational approach and making best use of the resources at your disposal. Avoid the escape mechanism of saying ‘that was not my team’s responsibility’ or ‘that is something I would need to escalate’. This does not reflect well. You may add a proviso such as ‘Although… that was not within the remit of my responsibilities….my recommendation would be to’.
8/ Be pragmatic
- Your reputation does not proceed you
- You have nothing to lose
- Bear those principals in mind to approach the session with energy and without fear
- Even if you are unsuccessful on this occasion then there will be other opportunities for which you will be perfect
I know there is no guaranteed formula for success but the above should definitely help!
All the best, Simon