Always ensure that you arrive on time and never show up late. Also ensure that you are friendly and polite to everyone who is involved in your "meet and greet" process from the security guard to the receptionist. First impressions count and people speak to each other!
- Always have a firm handshake – it's surprising how many people are automatically dismissed because of a weak handshake.
- Never fidget and always sit up straight – don't slouch in a chair.
- Always maintain eye contact – if there is more than one person interviewing you, make sure you greet everyone, keep eye contact with the person asking the question at the time but include everyone in your answer.
- Be confident and assertive, speak clearly and remember to smile. While interviewers want capable professional people in their organisation, they also want friendly ones too.
Remember to listen
Always listen to the interviewer carefully. You may miss the relevance of the question asked or miss cues regarding what the interviewer feels are important. Make sure you understand the question being asked – if it's ambiguous, ask for clarification. Answer the question asked.
Keep your answers concise and clear – don't ramble and go off on tangents. If you are unsure as to the meaning of the question, ask them to clarify it. Take the time to reflect on the question before answering.
Common interview questions
You may not have the opportunity to ask them all but you should have at least 4/5 questions prepared to ask during the interview. This will show an interest in not only the role but the company as well and will make you stand out from the crowd when the interviewers are making their final selection. Don't ask questions that the answers are readily available on the website – that just shows either (a) you're trying too hard or (b) you haven't prepared. Standard questions should be:
Show an interest in the company's future outside of your specific role. It could be something simple like for a FMCG company, "I read in "NewCo" that one of your competitors is launching a brand new product – what effect will that have on your bottom line – what are you doing to counteract that"? This shows commercial acumen and an interest outside of the confines of the finance role.
Opportunities to advance
There is no problem with displaying ambition and drive in the interview process. Ask what advancement you can expect from this role. What career paths have previous incumbents taken? What plans do the company have to expand and what part could I play in those plans? These types of questions all show enthusiasm and commitment for the role which should impress the interviewer.
Why has this opportunity come up?
Has the previous person moved on from the company or moved up within? This will give you an idea of career goals within the company. If they have moved on, ask will there be a handover period where you can familiarise yourself with the procedures and the way the company does things. Is the role a new one and if so what are the expectations created around this role? Who will you be reporting too? These again are all valid questions that will impress on the interviewer that you are committed to this role and you have thought about long term achievements if you do join the company.
Salary & Holidays
Never be the one to initiate discussions on salary levels / holidays / lunch hours etc. You should know before the interview what the salary levels are so that you're not wasting either your time or anyone else's.