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Securing an interview in the professional services sector is often the hardest part, so when it happens you firstly need to congratulate yourself and then you need to do everything to give yourself the best opportunity to progress.
If you are applying for roles through Leighton Taylor, we can provide you with extensive and personalised coaching before your interview with any of our clients. We are trained in interview techniques and have spent over 12 years briefing candidates through successful interviews. We know the sorts of questions that you are likely to be asked and very often, the people who will be asking those questions, which can be critical in a competitive market.
The interview guide below will give you a good idea of how to prepare, the types of questions that you may come across and some of the ways in which to approach them.
The key to a strong interview. Simply put you can never over prepare for an interview but it is incredible how many people go in 'undercooked'. Research the organisation as much as possible. Look at what they do, their size, their products/services. Undertake some detailed competitor analysis in order to gauge where the firm in question fits into their sector as you may be asked about this in the interview. Also look at any recent press articles related to to the firm.
- The firm's website should be your first (but not only) port of call. If the role you are going for is in a particular sector or practice group, single that out for special attention. Also look at the news section to see any recent cases or deals that the firm has been involved in. Finally have a look at the careers section because it may give you some pointers as to what the firm is looking for from prospective employers.
- Network - talk to anyone you know well who may work at the firm you are interviewing with as they might be able to give you some useful insider information.
Questions you may be asked
Interviews are really designed to find out the following:
- Do you have the ability/skills to do the job?
- How much do you really want to do the job?
- Do you fit the in with the culture of the firm and therefore do they want to employ you?
In order to answer these 3 essential points, interviewers will often ask the following types of questions some of which may be scenario based (in no particular order):
- Why are you looking to move on from your current position?
- What has attracted you to this position?
- What do you know about us as a firm and this department in particular?
- What types of challenges do you as a marketing/BD specialist expect to find in a professional services firm?
- Are you used to dealing with the most senior people in your current firm? If you need to, how do you persuade them to your way of thinking?
- What do you enjoy most about your current role?
- What do you dislike about your position?
- What are your key strengths and weaknesses?
- Where do you see yourself this time next year/in 3 years time?
- Do you prefer to work autonomously or in a team environment?
- How do you find team management? Can you give me an example of how you have dealt with a difficult team member?
Questions to ask the interviewer
A successful interview has to be a two-way process so if the opportunity presents itself ask the following types of questions:
- What is the culture of the firm like?
- What is the structure of the marketing/ business development team?
- What are the key issues facing the firm and the team at the moment?
- What sort of training would be available to me if I took this job?
- How is performance measured within the department?
- What are the prospects for development and promotion in the role?
- Does the company have any set expansion plans (as it's always good to find out if there are any mergers on the horizon)?
What else should you do
- Remain positive at all times as negativity can destroy an interview. Even if you are desperate to move, do not be overly negative about your current employer. If you come across as a negative person it will create question marks with the interviewer.
- Leave the interviewer in no doubt that you want the job. You can do this by saying you are extremely interested in what you have heard so far and what are the next steps. Or it can only benefit you to say, "I really like the sound of this role and really want to work here. Where do we go from here?"
Things to be careful of in an interview
- Don't assume the job is yours before you have completed the interview process. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. Even if you feel you are ideal for the job in question, you still need to prove this to all the interviewers, in a very respectful manner.
- Don't underestimate the importance of the first interview even if you are not meeting anyone based in the department where the role is based. First impressions are key and even if you feel you should be meeting line managers and partners straight away, everyone that interviews you will be an important part of the decision making process.
- The interview starts when you sign in at reception so get there in plenty of time and the calmer you will be.
- Weak handshakes. You of course don't want to harm the interviewer so a firm handshake is all that is needed.