Preparing for an interview

At Bruckshaw Associates, we will work with you to ensure that you are fully prepared for any interview question or situation.  Our advice and support will allow you to respond to interview questions confidently, accurately and succinctly.

Even though interviewing can be a daunting task, it is the best opportunity you will have to gain an understanding of the role and company you are interested in and establish how your background can contribute to the company’s objectives.

Bruckshaw Associates have helped hundreds of candidates successfully navigate their way through the interview process and we’ve put together the following guide to help you maximise your chances of success through the interview process.

Interview preparation

Invest some time in researching the company before your interview. Find out as much as possible about what the company does and, if possible, the people you are meeting with. That way, you will be ready for any eventuality and can prepare plenty of relevant questions. The more you know before your interview, the more confident you will feel and appear. It will also demonstrate to the interviewer that you are genuinely interested in the company. Your Bruckshaw Associates consultant will also provide invaluable advice and insight before your interview.

Make sure that you know your CV well and consider any aspects that you might want to highlight during the interview, such as a particular area of experience or a qualification.

Think about what you will wear to the interview and have your outfit ready well in advance. It is vital that you look as professional as possible, even if the company has an informal dress code.

Finally, consider the location of the company or the location of the interview if it is held elsewhere. Make sure you know how to get there, including where to park your car or where the nearest transport route is. Allow plenty of time to arrive at the interview to gather your thoughts so that you are calm and relaxed when you start.

Depending on how senior the role is, it is sometimes also worth looking at the company’s accounts before you meet them.

The interview

Aim to develop a friendly yet professional rapport with everyone you meet in the organisation. A firm handshake, eye contact, a warm smile, good posture and introducing yourself in a relaxed and confident manner all help to put both you and the interviewer at ease.

During the interview, it is important that you highlight your specific skills, attributes and achievements that are relevant to the role and the company. This is your chance to make a lasting impression.

If you are being interviewed by more than one person, be sure to address all of the people in the room when you are answering questions. Even if one person is doing most of the talking, it is polite and professional to maintain eye contact with each person.

Communicating information about yourself is your responsibility so find opportunities to raise points that will highlight your attributes that are relevant to the position.

Common interview questions

There are a number of interview questions that are commonly asked and it is a good idea to prepare your answers in advance. Always aim to keep your responses concise and relevant. Try to demonstrate your skills and abilities clearly using a variety of examples that reflect different aspects of your experience.

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • How would your contemporaries describe you?
  • What makes you different from the other candidates for this position?
  • Describe the accomplishment of which you are the most proud.
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What strengths and attributes could you bring to this position?
  • Why did you choose Accountancy/Finance/IT etc?
  • How did you become involved in your extracurricular activities?
  • Describe the job or the activity which has had the greatest impact on your career goals.
  • What are your career goals?
  • What would you like to be doing five/ten years from now?
  • What interests/impresses you about this company?
  • What do you believe are the key issues and problems in our industry today?
  • What do you think it takes to be successful in this field?
  • In what kind of work environment do you do your best work?
  • With what kind of people do you like to work?
  • What kinds of tasks and responsibilities motivate you the most?
  • What is your ideal job?
  • Tell me about what you learned from your previous jobs.
  • What did you dislike most about your last job?
  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • What has been your greatest challenge?
  • What do you enjoy doing outside of work in your free time?
  • If you had six months ahead with no obligations and no financial constraints, what would you do?

Competency based questions

There is a growing trend towards employers using ‘competency-based’ interviewing techniques as a way of separating the really strong candidates from the rest of the crowd. Interviewers want you to be able to talk about how you have dealt with real problems in the past, as this helps them decide how effectively you would tackle future issues you might encounter in your career with the firm. Competency based interviewing is scenario based; you are asked to give detailed examples of situations you experienced in previous roles, and use them to demonstrate your underlying skill-set. They often relate to areas such as influencing, communication, management, collaboration and conflict resolution.

Typical questions that are often asked include:

  • Can you give me an example of when you had to work under a great
  • deal of pressure?
  • Can you give me an example of when you felt that you were out of
  • your depth? How did you handle this?
  • Tell me about some risks you have taken in your working or
  • professional life? How did you go about this?
  • Can you describe some of the approaches you take when ‘selling’ ideas
  • to clients/colleagues
  • When you have managed a project can you take me through how you
  • have approached it
  • When have you had to go against general feelings or policies to
  • accomplish a goal? Tell me about it.

Questions for the Interviewer

  • Does the company have plans to expand internationally?
  • How successful has the company’s business in Latin America been thus far?
  • Can you tell me which new markets the company is currently considering entering?
  • What will be the impact of the new tax law on this business?
  • I’m interested in learning more about the company’s new technology that was mentioned in the news last week.
  • I understand that you have just introduced a new product. How has it been received thus far?
  • How is the finance department structured?
  • What are the potential career paths that might be available to me?

Closing the interview

During the interview, you will get some idea of whether you want the job or not. If you are interested in the role, ask about the next interview stage or if the interviewer offers you the job on the spot and you want it, accept it there and then. However, if you require more time to think it over, be tactful in saying so and qualify your reasons. Even if you have not decided if this is the job for you, the interviewer should be left with a positive impression. Make sure that you thank the interviewer for their time!

Post-interview

Contact your Bruckshaw Associates consultant after your interview and they will take you through the next stage – whether this is an offer or a second round interview.

Jot down notes about what happened in the interview. This information will be very useful if you are invited back for a second interview.

Your consultant will also let you know what feedback the company gave them about your interview. This is a useful exercise as it may help you to improve your technique.

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