Interview guide

Career Guide Seldon-Rosser-Interview-Guide

Key learnings:

  • The more preparation the more likely of a positive outcome
  • What you need to know in order to put your best foot forward
  • The dos and don’ts for interviews

Congratulations! You have now made it to the interview stage and here is the time to do some preparation.

Your first client interview is crucial in terms of making a good impression and building rapport with your potential employer. Therefore, this document is intended to assist you with the preparation process, helping you to win the career opportunity.

Be prepared for these FAQs:

  • Why are you looking to leave your current position?
  • What do you enjoy most/least about the work you do?
  • What do you know about our firm/client base/this position?
  • Why in particular are you interested in this position?
  • What do you find most difficult/frustrating about your current position?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What motivates you?
  • What are your short/medium/long term goals?
  • What initiatives have you developed/been actively involved in?
  • Describe a problem encountered in a project and how you resolved it.
  • Most importantly…why should we hire you?

Our clients often like to ask behavioural questions in the interview process as well.  Some examples are below:

  • Tell me about a situation where you had to solve a difficult problem. What did you do? What was the outcome? What do you wish you had done differently?
  • Tell me about a time where you used your influencing and negotiating skills to affect the outcome of a project and what were the results?
  • Have you ever been in situations involving difficult co-workers, tight deadlines or inadequate resources? How did you handle these situations?

Many of our clients also use scenario questions in the interview. The interviewer will provide you with a hypothetical scenario and ask how you would respond to that situation.  These questions often require you to think on your feet as it’s hard to predict the exact questions that will be asked.  Though they are likely to be scenarios familiar to you and the interviewer uses these to get a true sense of your style.

In addition to the FAQs above, you should also be ready to provide additional information on any experience detailed in your CV. Therefore it will be a good idea to revise and remind yourself of the great projects and experiences you have under your belt! You could also be asked to provide relevant examples where you have successfully accomplished any element of the role listed on the job description.

Lastly, you also need to be prepared for some general questions relating to the market conditions in the sector you’re applying to work in.

Matters for you to raise:

  • Opportunities and challenges the Practice/Sector/Firm will face in the next 24 months.
  • What would success look like in the role?
  • Split of work/where you would fit in to the current structure of the department/organization.
  • Whether you would work for a number of partners/areas of specialization.
  • Culture/reputation of the department/organization.
  • Future plans of the department/organisation and how you could contribute to that.
  • What plans are there for the growth of the division?
  • How is the division perceived by the professionals in the firm?
  • Professional development i.e. training courses (internal and external).

When meeting with Partners or Directors our advice is that it’s best to frame your questions around projects they are currently working on and challenges they are experiencing in their business as well as their business objectives for the role. You then have an opportunity to tie in how you would work with them to reach these goals and overcome these challenges.

When progressing to second round interview and beyond, it’s a good idea to use the information you found out in your first interview to frame your questions and enable you to go deeper in understanding the business and the role.

Roles are often won and lost by the insightful and commercial nature of the questions asked!

The Dos:

  • Do your homework – find out as much as you can about the firm and about the role.
  • Do give positive answers – phrase your answers and portray yourself positively.
  • Do highlight your interest for the firm – acknowledge the firm’s strengths and attractions and highlight why you want to join them.
  • Do dress up – appearance and body language are important. Better being overdressed than under-dressed.
  • Do be yourself – let the interviewers get to know you.
  • Do sell yourself – think strategically about when is the opportunity to point out your selling points.
  • Do ask (a few) questions – your chance to show the interviewer that you’ve done your homework.
  • Do ask for the job – they’re not going to know how much you want the job unless you tell them.

The Don’ts:

  • Don’t be thrown by the first question. It is likely to be open ended i.e. “Tell us about yourself/career” which can throw you off because of how broad it is. The key here is to be succinct – you don’t want to still be talking 10 minutes later! It’s your elevator pitch – think about the ‘Career Summary/ Objectives’ section of your CV and keep your response short and to the point. Tip: Tie your answer back to the job you are interviewing for.
  • Don’t talk about salary issues – suggest ‘market rate’ if questioned. Seldon Rosser will negotiate on your behalf.
  • Don’t denigrate your current organisation/partner – it’ll make you look bad instead.
  • Don’t guess answers – handle technical questions as if the interviewer was a client, remember to never guess answers.
  • Don’t get cold feet – employers do not like candidates pulling out of an interview at the last minute due to change of heart. It is always worth going along unless there is a big change to your circumstances, as you would never know what you think until you’ve met the people.

Remote Interviews

Interviewing remotely is becoming an increasingly common part of interview processes. Therefore it is important to be able to present yourself remotely via phone/Skype/VC too. Here are some of our top tips for handling these interviews.

  • Technical difficulties – These are more common with Skype/VC. It happens and there’s no way around it. When things go wrong: stay calm, don’t allow yourself to get flustered and deal with it in the same way you would if this wasn’t an interview. If there’s a delay, be aware of this and make sure you’re pausing long enough for the other person to jump in.
  • Skype interview – A comedy Skype name and picture which is more vacation than business meeting might not be the best start. You might want to update your profile or even set up another account for the interviewer to dial.
  • Non-visual cues – Listen out for words like ‘summary’, ‘brief’, ‘overview’ or ‘detailed’, ‘in-depth’ to give you an idea of how much detail the interviewer wants you to go into when answering a question. Not sure if you’ve given them enough or they want more detail because you can’t see them? You may only want to do this once or twice but it gives the power back to the interviewer to control the meeting.
  • Beware filling the gaps – Once you’ve finished your well constructed answer to a question, have the confidence to remain quiet. The onus is on the interviewer to guide the conversation forwards. When you can’t see the person interviewing you it’s harder to let a few seconds of silence pass – you can’t see that they’re making notes, nodding to their colleague or thinking for a moment and there’s a temptation to start talking again to fill the void. Be conscious of this as there’s nothing more frustrating for an interviewer than asking for a brief summary of someone’s career and still being sat there 20 minutes later not being able to get a word in to ask the next question.
  • Presenting yourself in the best light on the telephone – We often find that those candidates who think carefully about where they will sit to take the telephone call, who still put on their best suit, and, who smile and express themselves physically as they would if sat in the same room as the interviewer, do well. Whilst they can’t see you, these things will give you confidence, put you in a professional state of mind come across positively.  Also, don’t fall into the trap with telephone interviews of having a lot of papers with you to refer to. Whilst you might see it as a benefit to a telephone meeting – i.e., they can’t see you are referring to this – it means you run the risk of not being fully engaged and “in the moment of the interview” and may hinder your rapport building.

Final tips

  • Speak calmly and confidently
  • Address and give eye contact to all interviewers equally
Remember, Seldon Rosser is here to help! We can help you prepare fully for an interview, from providing information on firms/roles to performing mock interviews with candidates. We are well experienced in the sorts of questions you may be asked and the effect your responses may have. So feel free to call us for any help in preparing for your interview.

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