In-Person and Virtual Job Interview Tips for Graduates Seeking Finance Jobs

13 Step-By-Step Rules to Ace Your Job Interview

As a recent graduate, you may not have much interviewing experience for finance jobs.  So far, most of your jobs have been to earn a few dollars to help you through college. Now you’ve graduated; your next job is the one that could be the springboard to a successful and rewarding career. No surprise you’re nervous.

There’s Not a Big Difference Between Virtual and In-Person Interviews

Whether the interview is in-person or a virtual interview, these interview ‘rules’ should help make you one of the hiring manager’s preferred candidates:

Rule #1: Do Your Research on the Company and Interviewer

Learn as much as possible about the company that is interviewing you, as well as the interviewer/hiring manager. Knowing what the company stands for, its values and mission, will help you understand what they wish to achieve. Also knowing a little about your interviewer should give you an idea of common interests that may help to break barriers and build rapport.

Rule #2: Prepare Answers to All Possible Questions!

Prepare half a dozen situation-based answers that provide evidence of your qualities, and can be adapted for many types of questions. When composing these answers, refer to the job description, and make sure they cover the skills required for the role, as well as your strengths and weaknesses, and your personal values.

The best strategy is the STAR method:

  • Situation – describe the circumstance
  • Task – describe what is needed to be done
  • Action – describe the actions taken to complete the task
  • Result – describe the outcome

Keep your answers brief and to the point.

Virtual interview tip: Prepare a few sticky notes as prompts and stick them up where you can inconspicuously read them.

Rule #3: Practice Your Interview Answers

You should practice the presentation of your answers. You want to get your point across, but don’t sound robotic. Practice in front of a mirror and with a friend. You might also record yourself, to help master your technique.

Rule #4: Prepare the Right Questions to Ask

At the end of the interview, you will probably be asked if you have any questions, so make sure to prepare a few that also demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm. Ask about the company’s plans, or expectations for the role. You might have come across industry news, so ask how this might impact the company going forward.

Of course, the interview should be a two-way conversation, so don’t wait until the end to ask your questions. Ask at appropriate moments in the interview. However, try to keep a couple of questions in reserve – they could be your last opportunity to affirm why you are the right person for the role.

Rule #5: Dress Appropriately

Whether interviewing virtually or in-person, you must dress appropriately. First impressions really do count. Have your suit pressed. Iron your shirt or blouse. Clean your shoes, and brush your hair. And wear a winning smile.

Virtual interview tip: Wear pants! If you do need to get up from your seat, you don’t want to be caught without them.

Rule #6: Arrive to the Interview on Time

Always arrive at the interview with a few minutes to spare. If it is an in-person interview and you can do so, make the trip to the interviewer’s offices a few days before, so you know the best route to take and how long it will take. Then plan for a contingency. If you are too early, you can always find a coffee shop to relax in for a few minutes. If you’re late, you may have blown your interview before it has begun.

Virtual interview tip: Test your technology. Make certain that you can connect, that your internet speed is adequate, and that your webcam is working. And ‘arrive at the interview’ in good time. Be patient while you wait to be invited to the interview room.

Rule #7: Sit Comfortably

In an interview, make sure that you sit straight. Resist the temptation to fold your arms. Don’t tap a pen on the desk. Don’t fidget. Relax, and breathe easy.

Virtual interview tip: When interviewing virtually, your room becomes the interview room. It should be clean and tidy. Make sure there is no clutter (or embarrassing photos or objects) to distract the interviewer. If possible, allow natural light into the room – and always light yourself from the front. The interviewer does not want to speak with a silhouette. Also:

  • Have a glass of water prepared
  • Turn off other devices, including your desktop notifications
  • Make sure that other members of your household know not to disturb you
  • Put a note on your door for any deliveries

Rule #8: Maintain Eye Contact

Maintaining eye contact (without staring) is important. It shows you are focused on what is being said. It’s a key part of positive body language.

Virtual interview tip: Look into the camera when you are speaking. Look at the person on the screen when they are speaking. This needs practice because the natural thing to do is look at who you’re talking to on screen.

Rule #9: Stay Calm

Nerves can affect even the most seasoned interviewees. You may not have heard a question properly. Or you have temporarily been distracted. The secret here is to stay calm. If you need to, ask the interviewer to repeat the question. Or repeat it back in your own language so that you understand what you have been asked. Take a breath to compose yourself. A moment to get your thoughts together. Then continue calmly.

Virtual interview tip: No matter how well you have prepared for this, you may still be disturbed by a distraction. A child comes screaming into your room. A police car sounds its siren right outside your home. Don’t think of this as a problem. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate how logically you think and act.

If you need to attend to something, excuse yourself from the interview for a moment. Go deal with the situation, and return as soon as you can. Apologize for the inconvenience, thank the interviewer for their patience, and pick up where you left off.

Rule #10: Always Be Honest

Never be tempted to exaggerate your experience or skillsets. Remember, your resume has already been reviewed. It is what has won you this interview. You should show your personality and honesty. An interview is as much a test of these qualities as it is of your ability to do the job.

Rule #11: Don’t Ask About Compensation ─ Do Ask About Career Advancement

Discussions about salary and benefits should be left until late in the interview process, and until an offer looks likely. It’s best never to bring up this subject yourself – you don’t want to appear only interested in the money.

However, asking about career advancement and professional development opportunities can help to demonstrate that you are ambitious and eager to join the company for this particular role. Don’t ask if there will be opportunities to move to another department or division within the company – you don’t want to give the impression that you want to move on before you have started!

Rule #12: Thank the Interviewer

Always thank the interviewer for their time, and say that you are grateful for the opportunity to interview for the job. This is also the time to enquire about the next steps in the process.

Rule #13: Follow Up

You should always follow up after an interview. Send an email to the hiring manager to thank them for their time.

Take this opportunity to affirm your enthusiasm, and point out anything relevant that you may not have mentioned during the interview. Finish by saying you look forward to hearing about the next step.

Accelerate Your Job Search

As specialists in accounting and financial recruiting, we are able to place you into the desired career path. We fully understand the challenges that graduates face when seeking their first or second jobs.

As the partner in your job search, it is our mission to ensure that your job search toolkit is complete – including elements such as your resume and interview technique.

To learn how we help graduates land the best jobs faster, submit your resume to 6 Degrees Group.

Take the next step in your job search today