Congrats! You’ve made it through the grueling application process, and have managed to score an interview at one of the leading commercial banks in the Twin Cities metro area.
Are you ready to rock it?
It’s okay to be nervous. Even the most confident people among us get squirmy at the thought of a job interview. If you’d like, we can help you shake off some of that anxiety by preparing you for the big day. After several decades working in the financial services industry, we (Mary and Paul, nice to meet you!) know what bankers are looking for, and we’re ready to share our insights with the next generation.
Here are six tips for rocking an interview and landing the financial services job you’ve been searching for.
1. Be Informed
Most employers prefer a candidate who not only understands the role they’ve applied to, but also is already familiar with the company. That’s part of why so many financial services jobs are filled through referrals rather than internet job boards. It’s also why many will ask, “What do you know about our company?” during an interview – they want to separate unprepared candidates from the more serious ones who show initiative. Get a leg up on the competition by doing research and educating yourself on all aspects of the company before the interview.
2. Anticipate. Prepare. Repeat.
There are dozens of common interview questions and answers available to study online (which you should definitely review), but to really prepare for an interview, you need to expect the unexpected. Anticipate that your interviewer will focus on behavioral questions over questions about your experience, and prepare responses. Anticipate that you’ll be handed a puzzle and a timer and be left in an empty room, or have to talk to six different executives, or be asked to complete an actual job task as part of the interview, and prepare. Every interview is different. If you anticipate that you’ll be surprised by an interview tactic or completely stumped by a question, you’ll be prepared to handle it with grace.
3. Sell Yourself
Take advantage of the good ol’ “Tell me about yourself” question. This is your opportunity to communicate who you are and what value you will bring to the company and the role. A great answer starts with the present (where you are right now), segues into the past (a bit about your experiences and the skills you gained along the way), and finishes with the future (why you are really excited for this opportunity). For the rest of your interview answers, you should prepare to incorporate three to five selling points about yourself (such as what makes you the best candidate for the position), and be ready with examples of how you’ve demonstrated that strength in the past.
4. Speak the Right Body Language
Some say it’s possible to judge whether the interview will go well within the first five minutes of meeting a candidate, so it’s very important to speak the right body language. Dress appropriately, stand up straight, give a firm-but-not-bone-crushing handshake, and come into the interview with enthusiasm. Look people straight in the eye and smile. Be mindful of your nonverbal communication, because in some cases, it can be just as important as anything you say in the interview.
5. Ask Smart Questions
This goes along with being an informed candidate. It’s not enough just to ask your own questions during an interview – they should be smart questions. Aka not “How long have you been in business?” or something else you should already know the answer to if you’re truly interested in the company and have done your research. Plus, the point of an interview isn’t simply for the employer to evaluate you – it’s also an opportunity to discover whether the job is the right fit for you. However, that doesn’t mean you should make it all about you and what you can get out of the role. Ask questions like “What can I expect to accomplish in this position in the first 90 days?” or “What are the opportunities for growth and advancement?” to show the person interviewing you that you’re serious about the job and ready to hit the ground running.
6. Seal the Deal
You’re almost there! As the interview comes to a close, seal the deal by telling your interviewer again how interested you are in the job and why you’d be a great fit. Ask if there is anything else you can provide, such as references, background information, or work samples. Walk out with your head held high, and make sure to send your interviewer a personalized thank you email within 24 hours.
Good job! You’ve nailed the interview. Now take a breather and think about how you can do EVEN BETTER next time – in case you get called back for a second interview.
Struggling to Get an Interview in the First Place? We Can Help.
If you have at least three years of experience in the financial services world and you’re still struggling to land an interview, you might assume there’s something wrong with your resume or cover letter. But the truth is that in our business, it’s who you know that counts. And it’s possible you just don’t have the right connections necessary to get your resume seen.
That’s where we come in.
Midwest Financial Search specializes in financial services recruitment and placement. We are located on University Avenue in St. Paul and consider ourselves the “matchmakers” of the Twin Cities banking world. Utilizing our 30-plus years of industry experience and extensive network of professional contacts, we match banks and credit unions with candidates that suit them and introduce banking professionals to companies that complement their personality and work style. With us on your side, you’ll be able to access the hidden job market and discover exciting opportunities with the leading commercial banks and credit unions in the Twin Cities. Let’s get to know each other! Call us today at 651-690-4050 to schedule an appointment.