Avoiding common misconceptions about the interviewing process

The competition for finance jobs is fierce, so post-graduates competing for positions in the field need to give themselves every advantage possible. Individuals applying for jobs that promise careers in finance often take extensive preparations for each individual interview. Unfortunately, many would-be workers base the statements they make in interviews on a number of commonly-believed myths – myths that couldn't be further from the truth.

Listed below are a number of tips that will help applicants to avoid the mistakes most often made during job interviews. By studying these correctives to many oft-believed misconceptions, prospective professionals can ensure they always put their best foot forward during their first meetings with hiring managers – giving themselves a better chance at earning a job offer for a strong finance career.

Don't assume the interviewer is familiar with your background
Many interviewees expect that the person interviewing them will have intently studied their resume prior to the meeting. Unfortunately, this isn't normally the case: Odds are, the manager assigned to interview applicants is extremely busy, and will be unable to prepare for each specific interview.

If you're interviewing for a job, and the manager asks you to "talk about yourself," don't be afraid to recap some of the accomplishments and skills listed on your resume – there's a good chance the interviewer hasn't had the opportunity to fully read it yet. However, if you highlight the information that makes you a good fit for the job you're interviewing for, you can get the interview started on the right note – and ensure that you'll entice the hiring manager enough that they'll go back and read your resume in full once the meeting is complete.

Qualifications: more of a guideline than a rule book
There are many misconceptions often believed about the nature of qualifications – the skills and experience companies list as required on their job openings. Some individuals believe any workers who don't meet the exact qualifications shouldn't bother applying for jobs. Others feel that you should apply for as many jobs as you can find, regardless of whether your work experience approaches the standards set by the job's qualifications.

In truth, listed qualifications aren't strictly enforced or considered unimportant. They stand as a set of guidelines more than anything else. So don't be scared away from applying for your dream job – or any position you feel you're prepared to work – just because your resume doesn't sport as many years of work experience as the job listing requires. However, you shouldn't be applying for jobs if your resume doesn't display any talents that are related to qualifications listed.

David Couper, a veteran career coach who's worked with multiple Fortune 500 companies, told CNN Money that qualifications aren't as important for interviewees as displaying the right personality for the potential position.

"A candidate who is less qualified, but has the right personality for the organization and hits it off with the interviewer, will almost always get hired over a candidate who merely looks good on paper," Couper told the news outlet.

Don't pass up the chance to write a specific cover letter
Many interviewees see the cover letter as an unnecessary part of the application process. Some people use the same cover letter for every job application – and some even decline to write a cover letter at all. Yet, cover letters are often the best way to make yourself stand out against the peers you're competing with for the job.

Using the same cover letter for each job interview puts you at a great disadvantage. The approach you should take when applying for an accounting job is very different from the approach you should take when applying for a banking job. For example, they require different talents and interests. If you diminish the importance of cover letter and use the same text for each job application, you're putting yourself at a disadvantage.

Your degree isn't your defining feature
Despite what you may believe, your education and ensuing degree aren't the most important part of your resume and application. A strong educational history can prove that you're well informed – but it can never prove that you're well-suited for a specific position or task. Never rest on the laurels of your education. You should be focused on convincing the interviewer of your potential as a worker, not on telling them about your academic accomplishments. 

Don't talk about yourself – talk about what you can add to the company
On that note, it's important to remember that when interviewers ask you to talk about yourself, they don't want to know about your interests and personal tastes – they want to hear about what you can add to their company. Never stray from the topic at hand: Ensure that everything you say during an interview points toward your ability to add value to the company hosting you.