Preparing for your future, Recruiters

Brush Up On Your Interview Skills

What’s your stumbling point when it comes to getting your dream job? Guest post by Seb Atkinson, for CGMA, a globally recognised designation for management accountants, powered by CIMA and AICPA.








A survey of CFOs in the US last year revealed that while candidates have brushed up on their CV writing skills, the job interview is still the biggest stumbling block. So what can you do to brush up on your interviewing skills? We’ll take a look at some often-overlooked interview advice which can really make you stand out from the rest of the pack. 


Know Your Interviewer

It’s common knowledge that candidates should practice for their interview, but did you know that the questions asked can largely depend on who’s interviewing you. For example, many larger firms put candidates through a competency interview, where the questions cover how well you are suited to a role by assessing your reaction to certain situations. Therefore, preparing your own questions and answers about how you’d fit so well into the company culture may not be such a good move, as these types of questions may not be asked until the second round.

Similarly, find out the job role of your interviewer. For example if you’re going for a finance role and you’re interviewed by a finance executive, they may focus their questions exclusively on finance-related questions. Conversely, if your interviewer is a HR manager, the interview may revolve more closely around how well you fit the company culture.


Bring the Right Paperwork

Picture the scene: you arrive at your interview, sit down, and your interviewer asks for a copy of your CV. But wait a minute – you’ve already sent in your CV as part of your application – shouldn’t they already have it?

It’s unexpected twists like this that can throw even the best candidates, leaving you feeling like you’ve not shown your best side. It’s for this reason you should always bring multiple copies of your CV or any important documents you want to show the interviewer, such as your portfolio or case studies of your work.

We recommend bringing at least three copies of your CV. Why three? You never know how many people you may be interviewed by, as many companies now opt for a panel interview where more than one interviewer speaks to each candidate. Being able to provide unexpected interview guests with your CV can really show that you expect the unexpected, and are a well organised and thoughtful candidate.

You’ll also need a copy for yourself, as your CV will largely form the basis of discussion for your first interview. You’ll need to know your CV like the back of your hand, and be able to account for anything that is on there, being able to pull out any supporting evidence for your claims such as test results, or jump into the story behind certain achievements or qualifications.

Bringing your own copy serves as a great prompt and avoids the awkward moment of having to ask to see your own CV when asked a question about it, which can make you seem untrustworthy or create doubt about your background.


Stand Out From the Crowd with Smart Questions

Coming armed with intelligent questions shows you’ve done your research and are serious about the job. If an interviewer asks a job candidate, “Do you have any questions?” and the answer is a casual, “Nope, I’m good,” then that’s not good. If the interviewer hears that, they will be close to saying the interview is over.

A great way to show you’re serious about the role is to imagine you’ve just been hired. What would your next step be in order to show you were a good hire? Then, come up with questions to reflect this. For example:

  • “What’s the largest problem facing your department and would I be in a position to help solve this?”
  • “In what way will my performance be measured and reviewed?”
  • “What would you expect me to achieve within my first three months in this role?”
  • Meanwhile, other questions help to show your ambition and confidence:
  • “What types of training opportunities do you offer?”
  • “When can I expect to hear from you and what are the next steps in my application?”


Remember To Say Thank You!

Be sure to get your interviewer’s business card, as this will allow you to send them a thank you email, which can help the interviewer to remember you and adds a nice personal touch. If you’ve been interviewed by a panel, be sure to vary your email content, for example by mentioning something specific about that person.


For further advice from careers professionals, representatives from CIMA, AICPA  and student & graduate employers see Careers & Employability’s What’s On listings or call into The Student Support Centre (top floor) at 50 Park Place.


Best wishes
Seb Atkinson
Writer for CGMA

Seb Atkinson, is a writer for CGMA, a globally recognised designation for management accountants, powered by CIMA and AICPA, two of the world’s leading accounting organisations. CIMA is an accreditation body for the Cardiff Business School.


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