Kasia Makie - Senior Consultant, Accountancy & Finance

Attending an interview can either be an excitingly stressful process, or a dreadfully stressful one.  Either way, it is a stressful hour-or-so of your life and one common mistake that many people make is to fall at the last hurdle without even realising they have done it.

You could be going in full stride and internally giving yourself a high five knowing that you’ve nailed the answers to the tricky technical questions and the elusive competency questions and then it comes to what you think is the end of the interview and you relax. But this where you could be in danger of throwing all the good work you’ve just done out of the window. The final question comes and you either panic with a mind-blank or accidentally skate right over it – “do you have any questions for us”. One of the worst mistakes that you can make in an interview is to utter either of these responses: “no you’ve answered everything thanks”, or, “I’m sure I had some questions, I can’t think of any just now…”

Being well prepared for this section of the interview is just as important as preparing the technical and other components of the interview. This is actually another opportunity for you to shine and demonstrate the research that you have done for the interview which is above and beyond reading the job description and having a quick glance at the website. Naturally there are questions that everyone will want answered such as “what are the next stages of the process” or “what is the training like” etc. and whilst these are valid questions and information that you need to know, you have to be prepared that this may be covered during the interview and also these types of questions do not say much about your personality or your genuine interest in the company that you are hoping to join. This is also your opportunity to find out all the information that you need in order to make a decision on whether this company could be the right one for you.

Here are a few key tips which can make you stand out from the rest and make your interview more memorable than anyone else who has asked the standard and generic questions:

·        Do your research on the firm from a current news perspective. Look at the news section on the company website or search online for recent news articles which you can use as a talking point. For example: “I read on the news/your website today that your firm have invested in X. That’s quite interesting, will that have any impact on this department or will we have the opportunity to work in this area”. This is an intelligent market related question and shows that you have a genuine interest in joining the company

·        Do your research on your interviewers, whether it be HR or Line Managers / Partners. Ask them about their career development, why they decided to join the company, what they enjoy about their role, why they like working for that company etc. People in general like to talk about themselves and they will be flattered that you have asked about them personally and asked their opinion. Learning about their career path will also give you an indication of your own potential development in the business and inadvertently you have asked the question on the promotion prospects without them realising it

·        Whilst this suggestion can be skating on a thin ground, asking economic questions and the interviewer’s opinion can also leave a good impression depending on how you tackle the issue. Whether it be how the current Financial Services market, Oil & Gas crisis, Brexit, US Presidential Elections etc. you can turn this into a positive and an interesting talking point i.e. “There is obviously a lot of talk in the media at the moment about the impact of Brexit. Do you have any contingency plans in place or do you not foresee any major challenges for your market.” This also increases your credibility as a true professional who has a strong commercial awareness.

Whatever questions that you decide to ask, the key point is that it is crucial to be prepared and to ask something. Whether it be a candidate-driven or client-driven market, you always want to leave the best impression possible and for you to be in the position to say yes or no in your own job search rather than the other way around. Whilst the answer to “do you have any questions” may seem like a minor part of the interview, it is the last impression that you will leave before walking out the door or hanging up the phone so make sure that it is a good one.

If you would like any further advice from Kasia, then please click here.