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10/01/2015

Warning! Don’t make these interview mistakes


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So you landed a fantastic interview opportunity, and now you need to seal the deal to get the job offer. Whether you are interviewing at a bank, asset manager, hedge fund or any other type of financial institution, it’s hard to predict the type of interview you will have. 

As an executive and career coach, I work with many clients on preparing them for high-stakes interviews. Having interviewed several hundreds of finance professionals throughout my career either as a coach or, formerly, as a fixed income sales professional at investment banks, I have started to notice the following patterns. These three behaviors are surprisingly common and detrimental to your success:

Thinking that if it’s on your resume you don’t need to mention it

I can’t tell you how frequently I hear, “It’s on my resume, so I figured I don’t need to say it again.” Your resume on average will have about 400 words. I can guarantee that even if your interviewer was thorough when reviewing your resume, they paid attention to no more than 100 of those words. Don’t let your resume jewels fade into the background. Make sure you have a method for bringing them to the forefront during your interview. Preparing and practicing your stories with a mock interview is a great idea! 

Not engaging in casual banter with your interviewer

What is it about interviews that make people throw their awesome personality out the window? Think about it. If you were interviewing someone, would you prefer to hire a robot with no personality or a charismatic and engaging person with whom you share common interests? We spend more time with our colleagues than we do with our family and friends. Your interviewer is trying to figure out if you would fit the culture of the firm and if you would be fun to sit next to on a plane for six hours. Next time you are asked “What do you like to do for fun?” don’t over think the answer and let your personality shine through. Also, if at the mention of tennis, your interviewer starts to talk about his high school tennis years, indulge him. Don’t worry that your interviewer isn’t peppering you with technical questions, instead see this as a bonding opportunity. The more shared interests you and your interviewer have, the greater your chances of getting hired!

Not asking the interviewer about themselves

Most people are quite selfish in their interviews.

“I did this…”

“My background is this...”

“My weaknesses/strengths are these…” 

Yes, the interview is a meeting where the sole agenda is for you to talk about yourself. However, if you want to land this job, you will make your interviewer feel that he/she is the interesting one.  Most interviews end with the dreaded question of “Do you have any questions for me?” This question is the interviewer’s chance to shine after having to listen to you for 30-60 minutes. Don’t disappoint them with generic questions such as,

“What are the next steps?”

“What is the culture here?” or

“Tell me about the needs of role for which I am interviewing.”

Instead, I encourage you to ask a question directed at the interviewer and about the interviewer. Here are some examples: 

“What are some of your favorite projects you have worked on here?”

“What has been your path at the firm and prior?”

People love to talk about themselves. As Dale Carnegie teaches us, by encouraging others to talk about themselves, we are ultimately getting them to like us more. And isn’t that the point of your interview?

-Helen Dayen is the founder and CEO of Dayen Group. She is a career development & communication coach.

NYSSA is proud to announce that we are launching a new interview prep coaching package in collaboration with the Dayen Group - an executive coaching company focused on the financial services industry. Please click here to explore our coaching packages and schedule a mock interview appointment.

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