Moving abroad recently had me out here in the labour market again, but this time as an experienced hire. While the process may differ from the usual graduate process involving psychometric tests and assessment days, the interview session won’t differ so much.

Having gone through a couple of interviews recently, here are 5 common questions you’re most likely to encounter with examples and tips on how to answer them either as a recent graduate or experienced hire.

I have decided to split this post into two to avoid it being too long, but get your cup of tea or glass of wine and I’m sure before the end of this post your pen and paper will also be out. My techy friends will probably bookmark this page.

In no particular order, let’s dive in.

1. Tell me about yourself. You’ll probably get this 98% of the time even though the recruiter/hiring manager has your CV in front of them. This statement can also come in form of ‘Give me some background about your career’ or ‘Talk me through your CV’. This is a chance to sell yourself beyond the items on your CV and more importantly tell a compelling story about yourself. The puzzling questions are usually…How much to say? What areas do I include or omit? Where do I start from?

Recent Graduate (0-2 years experience). I graduated from the University of XYZ in 2017 with a second class upper in Management and have worked with Abacus Plc for the past 7 months as an Investment Officer in the Finance Department. Within this role I am responsible for monitoring the daily operations of the business and processing transactions using the SAP accounting software. My keen eye for detail has been instrumental in identifying irregular transactions and balances. In the course of work, I have honed my communication skills as I interact daily with people across various departments requiring updates on various transactions.

In my 3rd year of University, I campaigned and was elected as the Welfare Manager of the Students Association where I collaborated with my colleagues to organise tutoring classes ahead of examinations for specific modules. I also organised the first networking session in partnership with Rena Financial Plc where students were able to interact with finance professionals and ask questions. Combining this position with my academics help me prioritise my tasks appropriately and manage my time properly.      

Experienced Hire (3-5years experience). I started my career five years ago at XYZ Plc where I had the responsibility of building 5-year financial forecasts of companies listed on the stock exchange, valuing these companies and providing investment recommendation to investors.

I moved on to Right Plc in 2015 where I spent the last two years in the Corporate Development unit performing financial analysis on target companies for acquisition, reviewing capital expenditure models and presenting my findings in form of reports to senior management. One major accomplishment in this role was identifying cost synergies of $30mn-$40mn through supply chain efficiencies after the acquisition of a target company.

Comment: Do not be shy to blow your trumpet, your humility is not needed here – but this does not equate to being arrogant. Make sure the skills and knowledge you are stating are relevant to the role that you’ve applied for or stated in the job description. Where you lack a certain skill required, give an example of a skill/knowledge you’ve acquired in the course of your work, which displays your ability to learn new concepts quickly and adapt to a changing environment. If you have an employment gap of more than 3 months, be sure to explain activities you’ve been involved in to keep you busy and skills you’ve acquired during the time.

2. Why do you want to work for XYZ Plc. Here the recruiter wants to know that you have a good knowledge of the company you’ve applied to but don’t go spitting back to them the mission and vision statement of the company. Instead focus on what the areas the company could be finding challenging or wants to improve processes within the department you’ve applied to and let them know you understand this and have the required knowledge, skills and experience to meet their needs or solve a problem. Take a cue from the job description. Asides from the company’s website, the annual report (Chairman’s statement), press releases are good sources of information about the company’s strategy and plans for the near future. 

For example, if you’ve applied for a Treasury Analyst role for a global Telecommunications Company.

Gezi is a global telecommunications company with broadband and voice call operations in over 20 countries and 30 partner markets. As a result, proper management of derivatives, counter party risks and fluctuations in the foreign exchange market as well as accuracy in cash flow forecasting are areas Gezi is looking to improve upon, particularly with the uncertainty of BREXIT in the near future. In addition, give an example of how you’ve done this in your previous roles, highlighting how you applied your knowledge and skills. Also mention an aspect of the company’s corporate social responsibility you’ll like to participate in and tie it with your lifestyle/hobbies to make you a good fit for the company.

Comment: By mentioning BREXIT, you’ve displayed your commercial awareness on that industry. For a recent graduate, this is where you display knowledge of how you’ve been following the industry and perhaps a paper you wrote in University about this issue and you can end by throwing a question back at them. For instance, I know the CEO of Fenu (a competing firm) has announced plans to move their headquarters to Paris, is this something Gezi will be considering in the near future?

I hope this was as explanatory and you find it helpful. Please let me know if there’s something I’m missing out and feel free to leave me a comment or question and share your interview experiences too.

PS: Look out for the second part of this post coming up soon. Be the first to know about it by subscribing to our mailing list here and don’t keep it a secret share with your friends.

Cheers!