I recently attended a workshop for MBA and MFRM students interested in finance careers. It was facilitated by the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (bcIMC) and was a great opportunity to hear from industry professionals on the application and interview process.
Below are 5 key takeaways from the session:
1. Know your resume real estate.
The most valuable real estate on your resume is the top third of the first page so make sure it highlights your best qualifications. For newly minted MBAs and MFRMs this section should contain degrees and designations. Hiring managers will often spend less than 30 seconds reading your resume for the first time so don’t put the good stuff on page two. Also be sure to identify yourself as male or female if it’s not obvious from your name as some companies have gender-specific hiring requirements.
2. Structure your answers.
You may not know the interview questions ahead of time but you can have a strategy in place for answering them. This will help you keep your cool when put on the spot and prevent extremely short or long rambling answers. For each question, plan to respond with three bullet points. If asked what your colleagues would say about you, pick three characteristics and briefly state why.
3. Define your salary expectations.
You will be asked to give a number so make sure to do your homework on the average starting salary for the position you’re applying for. Interviewers want to know if you’re on the same page and what offer they should come in at. Tell them that you’ve done some research and give them a range where you would expect to start. Don’t beat around the bush and definitely don’t pull a number out of the air during the interview.
4. Identify what personal information you are willing to share.
Asking for personal information is a big no-no but HR professionals may structure questions so you’ll provide it willingly. They might ask what you did on the weekend and in doing so, prompt you to provide details of your personal life. But you don’t have to. In fact, it’s important to think about what you want to divulge ahead of time because it may impact your chances of getting the job. For example, saying that you enjoy sleeping until noon on the weekends may be a red flag if you’re applying for an analyst position that requires you to be at the office at 5am.
5. Bring your own questions.
Most interviewers will ask if you have any questions of them. Make sure you do. Ask them what it’s like to work for the company, what their typical day is like and how they got started in the industry. Don’t go overboard; remember that you are the one being interviewed but do ask a few questions to show that you’re proactive and interested.
You are right having your own questions to ask at an interview is important, it shows that you are interested and it is a way that you are knowledgeable in the field.