There are many steps you have to take during the job hunt – you've got to create the best resume you can, write cover letters tirelessly, network every opportunity you get and much more. No part of the process, however, is as important as interviewing. Still, many individuals fail to prepare for job interviews the way they prepare for other aspects of the job hunt. This isn't the time to improvise: what you say and how you behave during an interview should be planned ahead of time. Here are just a few tips that can help you ensure you'll handle your next one-on-one job interview like a pro:
This should go without saying, but you need to make sure you have every document you may possibly need on your person. When you show up to your interview, you should have at least a few copies of your resume and your cover letter to distribute as necessary. You've of course already sent a copy of these documents to the company where you're interviewing, but having them on hand – whether they request to do so or not – will ensure that you'll be able to make the most of your meeting.
You've surely worked tirelessly creating your resume, and your interview gives you an opportunity to make the most of it. If you get the chance, you can walk the interviewer through the resume itself – you could even literally highlight the details. This will allow you a chance to further expound about accomplishments or assignments you've completed that couldn't fully be described on a sheet of paper. You want to convince the company interviewing you that you're more than just a list of talents. Your resume can't do that alone – but using your resume as a visual guide can be the perfect way to walk them through your career-to-date, allowing you the opportunity to go into greater detail about what makes you an attractive hire.
The other part of being prepared is studying the company itself. You want to ask questions during an interview, but you shouldn't be asking general queries – be sure to study up on the products and services offered by the interviewing firm beforehand. They may be more than willing to preach to you about what their company does, but interview time is valuable, and you should use it asking them questions that only a manager could answer.
Have a game plan
The interviewing process is becoming more and more competitive. When you're up for highly sought-after finance jobs, like wealth management jobs or hedge fund jobs within the finance sector, every single word you say during your interview will be considered. When there are innumerable qualified candidates for just a few small positions, hiring managers can afford to be quite selective.
So you should always have a "game plan" when going into these interviews – a set of talking points that you wish to discuss regardless of what the hiring manager asks himself or herself. Your talking points could be anything: a specific accomplishment you feel proves you're right for the job, for example, or a skill that you feel you have and the company lacks. Regardless of what it is, you need to determine a topic that you'd like to discuss during the interview, so that you're being proactive, instead of just reactive.
Anticipate their questions
On that note, you'd do well to anticipate the questions you'll be asked during the interview ahead of time. You certainly shouldn't draft out and rehearse answers word-for-word, but you'd certainly benefit from creating a rough guide to how you answer certain oft-asked questions. This will allow you to respond more quickly and more confidently during the interview itself. Better yet, the rehearsal will help you to be better prepared: contemplating the answers to these questions may be able to help you gain insight as to what you can personally bring to the job at hand.
The most important part of a job interview is illustrating and accentuating your strengths. This is hard to do if a question catches you off guard and you find yourself rambling or searching for words. You need to keep yourself focused on those aforementioned talking points, on the topics that you feel will convince these hiring managers you're qualified for the position – and by anticipating questions and generating rough answers ahead of time, you can ensure that you'll do so.
Always be conversational
This may be the most important factor, and it's also the least-known: interviews are not a test. They're more of a tryout. It's not about whether you're qualified – if you weren't qualified, you wouldn't be invited to the interview. Rather, this is a chance to see how you'd fit in with the workers and the corporate culture. So more than anything else, ensure that you're relaxed and relatively conversational – all the strategies in the world won't help you if you seem terse and unhappy.