Standard & Common
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me about yourself.
did you most enjoy about your last job?
would your colleagues or supervisor describe you?
can you offer us that other people cannot?
about this job attracts you? What is unattractive?
- How long
do you see yourself with us?
- How would
you describe an ideal working environment?
Standard interview questions might
not seem difficult, but your answer to each should be polished
and sharp. Craft responses and practice them before your
interview so that they roll off your tongue when you face
the interviewer. Effective responses answer questions honestly,
positively, and briefly, highlighting important qualities
and accomplishments that are relevant to the position at
hand. Give examples to illustrate and corroborate your statements
when possible. Your responses should work together, making
connections between what you have previously done, the available
position, and your goals.
Mark is preparing for an important interview. He is a recent
graduate from law school who wishes to become a financial
planner at a mid-sized firm that deals with families who
have a minimum account of twenty-five million dollars. Before
he went to law school, he was a financial analyst for three
years and passed two levels of testing toward a CFA certification.
He decided not to complete the CFA training.
His company promoted him twice during his time there, once
into a management position that suited him only fairly well.
He did not get the kind of training from his company that
he felt he needed in order to manage people effectively.
Still, he likes to help people make good decisions and he
effectively led his team to create a clearer strategy for
approaching new accounts. Mark seems to have a sixth sense
for how to compound wealth. He knows how to spot trends
and retreat from them just as they crest in profitability.
He thinks he might one day become an estate planning attorney
in a financial planning firm. Of course, he does not know
what life will bring him. Mark does not want to constrict
his options unnecessarily, and he certainly is not ready
to settle down into a firm for the next ten years.
Consider how Mark might answer standard questions effectively
- Tell me
Ineffective: I am a hard-worker who is good with numbers.
After I worked as a financial analyst for a few years,
I decided to go to law school. I just finished and now
am looking for a new challenge.
Effective: I began developing skills relevant to financial
planning when I worked as a financial analyst for three
years. In that role, I succeeded in multiplying the wealth
of my clients by carefully analyzing the market for trends.
The return on the portfolios I managed was generally 2%
more than most of the portfolios managed by my company.
My initiative, planning, and analytic skills were rewarded
by two promotions. As the manager of a team, I successfully
led them to develop a more efficient and profitable strategy
for dealing with new accounts. My subsequent training
in the law, including tax law and estate law, gives me
an informed view of what types of investments and charitable
gifts would be most advantageous for your clients.
- What did you
most enjoy about your last job?
Ineffective: I liked lots of things-the people, the
challenge, the rewards. Sometimes we had to work long
hours, but it always seemed to pay off.
Effective: Of the many things that I enjoyed, I would
say that the strategic aspects of my job most energized
me. I liked setting concrete performance goals for myself
and finding ways to meet them. I similarly enjoyed analyzing
markets for trends and identifying when would be the most
beneficial time to enter or withdraw from certain funds.
When I was a manager, my team and I developed a new approach
to accounts that became a standard for the company. Strategizing
gave my work a sense of tangible direction and accomplishment.
- How would
your colleagues or supervisor describe you?
Ineffective: I guess they would say that I am a hard worker
who is successful.
Effective: My supervisor and colleagues have described
me as a dependable worker. My supervisor has appreciated
that I prioritize tasks and manage my responsibilities
so that she can rely on me. My bosses tell me I have a
sixth sense for markets and I learn new information and
procedures quickly. These skills account for my two promotions
in three years. My boss was also impressed by how I was
able to lead my team.
- What can
you offer us that other people cannot?
Ineffective: I have a unique combination of skills. I
also really want the job.
Effective: I have a track-record of multiplying wealth
through investments and developing strategies with teams.
Since I have a JD, I also know what legal parameters and
loopholes affect families and individuals planning their
finances. My CFA training not only shows that I will succeed
in the CFP courses, but also gives me a broader view of
why financial plans work as they do. Since I am organized
and self-motivated, I will add value to the company without
requiring much tending and supervision.
- What about
this job attracts you? What is unattractive?
Ineffective: I like that it is in the field I am targeting.
I don't like the commute that it will require.
Effective: As I evaluate my skills and goals, this job
maximizes on both. I will be able to merge my knowledge
of law and markets while strategizing for the sound financial
future of clients. Since this is a small company, I imagine
that there will be opportunity for increased responsibilities
and challenges. I share the values of the company. I am
not eager to do much data processing, but the position
is very attractive.
- How long do
you see yourself with us?
Ineffective: I don't want to make any hasty commitments,
and I like to keep my options open. Maybe I will be here
for one year, maybe for five. It depends.
Effective: I see myself here as long as we both think
that I am contributing to the vitality of the company
while still being grown through challenges.
- How would
you describe an ideal working environment?
Ineffective: A laptop and cell phone on a beach sound
ideal to me. Short of that, I would like an environment
in which I am able to work as I please, without much supervision.
Effective: It is important to me that my company has clear
objectives and strives for success. Similarly, I like
having colleagues whom I admire for their skills and perspectives.
When communication is clear between colleagues, our energy
becomes synergy. In addition, I find that I flourish when
given discretion after having gained the trust of my supervisor.
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