When trying to secure a new role, finance and accounting professionals often receive conflicting and out of date advice about the interview process. In this article we debunk 3 myths about job interviews and teach you how to tackle these misconceptions head-on.
You must tick every box
Trying to ‘tick every box’ can stall your career and stop your job search before it even begins.
It’s important to remember that a job advertisement is a ‘wish list’ created by an employer. It captures core competencies but may over-emphasise skills or parts of the role that aren’t actually critical for success.
Sometimes the ability to think outside the box is more valuable than ticking every box. Go beyond the generic ‘ideal candidate’ and communicate what makes you truly excellent as a finance or accounting professional. This might not be a real ‘must have’ that an employer didn’t even realise was missing from the job description
The pressure of a perfect fit can be off-putting for anyone, but women in particular seem to hold themselves to a higher standard. An internal study conducted by Hewlett-Packard, for example, discovered that women only applied for a promotion when they believed they met 100 percent of the qualifications listed for the job. Men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet 60 percent of the job requirements.  Low self-confidence can be dangerous during a job search as it leads to inaction. One guaranteed way not to win a role is not to apply for it in the first place.
Self-confidence doesn’t necessarily make you better at what you do, but it does prepare you to take the risks necessary to achieve your career goals. Recognise that a job interview may push you out of your comfort zone… you are a numbers person, not a sales person! Accept that you are going to have to stretch yourself but recognise that with this risk, comes the potential of reward of an exciting new job.
You must have the right answer for every question
Competency-based interview questions are designed to better understand your actions and reactions. There is not necessarily one ‘right’ answer. Employers are more interested in understanding your methods and reasoning than the outcome. When answering competency-based interview question remember to give situational context, highlight your role, identify the process you undertook and the ensuing result.
Sometimes you might not have enough organisational knowledge or sector experience to answer a question fully. Don’t worry, saying that ‘you don’t know’ is not necessarily a deal breaker. Admitting your limitations requires confidence and professional maturity – handled correctly this speaks volumes about you as a person.
Highlight what steps you would take to resolve the question. Where would you go for answers? A knowledge gap might even provide you with an opportunity for a memorable follow-up email e.g. “I’ve been thinking more about X, and having researched and thought about it further, I believe…” A short, personalised note shows that you pay attention to detail, follow through and that you really want the job. These qualities are appealing to prospective employers.
You must be ‘perfect’
You don’t necessarily need to be perfect in a job interview. You just need be yourself. Letting an employer see the real you will help them to gauge whether you will be a good fit.
During the job interview tell a compelling story that conveys who you really are, what you are capable of. Make sure this dovetail with the goals of the organisation. Be authentic. You are going to be happiest working in a role where the true you can shine. And, on the flip-side, pretending to be someone else will only make you unhappy and unproductive.
Having the confidence to be yourself can be tricky. Before commencing your job-search process, try to tackle self-doubt. Now is not the time to suffer from imposter syndrome. Look at what you’ve already accomplished in your career, practice positivity and remember to dress for success. All these little steps will help you to feel confident in yourself and your abilities.
If you find it hard to celebrate your successes, try asking trusted friends and colleagues to describe your strengths and achievements. This might help to give you the language you need to talk about yourself.
Knowing your own worth is attractive to a potential employer. During a job interview you must be able to speak about how you are truly and why you are the most valuable person for the job.
Andrew Pownall is a Senior Associate at Moir Group. Candidate-focused in his approach, Andrew is passionate about supporting people with their overall job-search strategy.
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 The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman