At Randstad Financial & Professional, we’ve helped hundreds of candidates secure their ideal interim job or change management position thanks to our market knowledge and recruitment expertise.
This specialist interview advice, specifically for our candidates within the interim and change management space, is designed to help you prepare for the tougher interview processes in the current market.
On the back of your CV application, your interviewer will quiz you to assess if you have the right knowledge, skills and experience needed for the position. Your interviewer will also want to make sure that you’re the right cultural fit for the company and team, while determining if you’ll be a valued and productive addition. Therefore, you need to sell yourself according to the requirements of your potential employer – and meet what they’re looking for in a successful applicant. Concentrate your answers towards their needs, rather than focusing on your own.
Show your interviewer that you’re better than the other applicants interviewing for the position - that you can bring more and give more to the role, team/department and company than your competition. Focus on the interview, don’t worry about any external factors that are out of your control (e.g. the number of applicants being interviewed).
Typically, as the interview closes, you’ll be asked a few questions on the company and the position in question. Research the company and be prepared, the more you know about the company, the greater your interest and enthusiasm for working there will seem. Be aware of their products, services, reputation, business principles, mission statement, competitors, culture and history. Look up the countries that they operate in, divisions and news on deals they’ve recently closed.
Your potential employer will want to find out if you’re technically competent and able to perform within the position, how you’ll be of benefit to them and the team. Most of these questions will revolve around the job spec and your experience as you’ve described it on your CV, focusing on projects you’ve worked on and led, products, processes and systems that you’ve used and your level of experience with that particular software. They will also want to see if you’re a good personality fit.
Questions that you may be asked include:
- Give an example of when you’ve improved a process or implemented a new procedure in any of your previous jobs. Does the company still use this process now?
While the candidate’s CV may give the interviewer a lot of information about the facts of employment from the employee’s perspective, this question is aiming to see the positive impact from the employer’s perspective. Choose an example that shows a long-lasting positive effect.
- Tell me about a decision that you’ve made that has affected processes and your colleagues. What was the benefit to your colleagues and your company?
Not every decision that is made in the workplace is of large strategic importance. Smaller decisions can have an impact as well, particularly in change and interim jobs. The candidate should choose an example of a positive effect that his or her actions have caused for other people.
- Tell me some examples of important recommendations or decisions you’ve recently made.
Decision-making skills and communication skills are important in change and interim jobs, as they are anywhere else. Before the interview, it is worthwhile to make a list of career achievements so that a positive answer to a question like this comes quickly to mind.
- What would you do if a member of the project team were performing below the required standard? What actions would you take?
The interviewer is looking for proof of effective communication skills and management skills. Take a positive attitude, devise an answer that exemplifies these skills from a past experience.
- Describe how you would improve the performance or productivity of a team
Questions such as this can best be answered in a way that includes a practical real-life example. Without being negative about a former employer or colleague, use previous experiences to formulate a positive method of dealing with the situation.
- Have you ever made any changes to procedure that was met with resistance?
Change management can be a key issue in some change and interim jobs. This question gives the candidate an opportunity to describe how obstacles have been overcome in the past.
- Tell me about a client relationship you’ve recently developed.
Customer relationships are an important factor in the workplace. The interviewer here, with this question, is probing to find out about the value that the candidate can bring in terms of finding and satisfying customers. Use a tangible example to illustrate a suitable approach to developing client relationships.
- If we hired you for this position, on which areas would you make an immediate impact?
With a question like this, knowledge of the job description and job tasks is important. The candidate should match his or her skills with those needed for the job, highlight an important area and use an example from personal history to show how he or she can make an effective contribution.
- Describe a significant risk that you have taken.
Risk management skills can sometimes be overlooked in recruitment. This question gives the opportunity to describe how a calculated risk paid off to good effect.
- What financial products have you worked with?
Beyond the information on a CV, providing details on employment experience is also important. As well as giving facts, answer this question with a positive approach to skills and attitudes.
- Give an example of a project you’ve worked on where you had to assess, make a recommendation and then implement the changes. How did you influence others to see that these changes would be of benefit?
In a change and interim job, it can be important to have an immediate positive impact. The candidate should use this question to demonstrate, from past experience, how he or she could influence the sort of project that the company operates.
- Give an example of a time when you’ve had to advise the senior management team.
Use this as a chance to illustrate communication skills. However, do this positively and respectfully.
- Have you ever reorganised a department, including the roles of the team members?
Use this as a chance to describe positive management skills demonstrated during changes made in previous positions. If no such changes have been made, explain why in a positive fashion.
- You made considerable organisational changes in your last role. How did you lead and implement this?
This sort of question comes directly from the CV. Think of it as an opportunity to make a positive impression on the interviewer based on the work done in a previous job.
- In your last job, what impact did your decisions have on company goals? Use this question to demonstrate an understanding of strategic objectives and how management skills work for the benefit of the company. Do this within the framework of talking about a career achievement.
- In what ways do you think you could make a contribution to this company and our goals?
Using research that you have done into the employer, demonstrate knowledge of the company’s mission and targets. The candidate should link this to his or her own personal skills, and elaborate on how they can be put to good use.
- Why have you chosen to apply for this position?
Answering this question requires conducting advance research on the job vacancy. The candidate should use this information to highlight some of his or her own strengths. Then link these strengths to the qualities needed by the employer.
- Tell me about the last time that you worked under pressure. How do you manage stress? Use questions such as these to build a positive picture of achievement under pressure. Use illustrations of coping skills from previous employment.
- Tell me about a time when you’ve had to deliver information of a difficult or sensitive nature to others.
Use this sort of question to highlight positive communication skills.
- Describe a time when you’ve had a problem that you couldn’t solve.
Use this sort of question to positively demonstrate problem-solving skills. Describe how the problem was overcome, and remember to be positive about the outcome.
- Have you ever failed in meeting a project goal/objective?
The ability to learn is an important skill. Questions like this can be used to describe positive learning experiences that have come from past challenges. However, remain positive about the experience and the previous employer.
- Tell me about a project you’ve managed that was met with problems. How were these issues resolved?
This question invites a detailed response in terms of describing project management skills in action during a past management position. Ensure that a positive approach is maintained when answering the question.
- Tell me about a time when you’ve had to persuade others to think or do what you wanted them to do.
Use this question to positively highlight skills in persuasion, using a real example.
- Describe a time when a miscommunication has created problems on a project or within a team.
Use this question to show problem-solving skills, using a real example.
- What are you most proud of professionally?
Choose an achievement that is closely linked to the philosophy or mission of the company, and describe how this achievement was managed.
- What is your biggest professional disappointment?
Remain positive when answering questions like this. Be truthful, but emphasise positive learning experiences and coping skills rather than failures.
- What are your strengths?
Draw on the job description to highlight relevant personal qualities.
- What are your weaknesses?
Frame any weaknesses in positive terms, and link positive skills to the job vacancy.
- What motivates you?
Be honest, and link the answer to this question to the vacancy at hand.
- How do you define success?
Use this question to highlight a personal success from personal history.
- What are your thoughts on the current market situation?
The candidate should use this question to illustrate how his or her knowledge of the markets is up-to-date. Elaborate further to highlight analytical skills.
- What do you think are the main issues facing investment banking over the next year?
This question looks for an in-depth understanding of the sector. Demonstrate a grasp of up-to-date knowledge and an ability to foresee events, as well as an analytical approach to how to face those potential events.
Tips on answering questions
Always make sure that you understand the question that you’re being asked. If not, there’s nothing wrong with asking your interviewer to clarify what they’re asking you. Don’t rush to reply. Take a few moments to think over the question and formulate your answer.
When responding, always use examples. Examples will answer your interviewer’s questions, while also proving that you can do the job and have the skills, knowledge and experience to do so, highlighting your suitability for the position. When using an example to highlight your answer, explain the situation and what needed to be done. Let your interviewer know what actions you took and conclude with the end result and what was achieved.
Use specific work-related examples that are relevant to the question being asked. Think of times when you’ve gone the extra mile or done anything out of the ordinary to really stand out from the crowd. Have at least 5 or 6 examples ready to use and pick these examples from a variety of projects that you’ve worked on. Try to keep your examples as recent as possible and talk about them from your point of view – what your involvement was and what you did.
When using your examples, don’t forget to tell your interviewer what the end result was. Use situations where the result was measurable – explain how this affected you/your team/the company. Try to remember rough dates and stats to back these up.
Tailor every answer to the job that you’re interviewing for. Take, for example, the question “Tell me about yourself” – your answer should relate back to the role – your experience, responsibilities held and projects that you’ve worked on that will qualify you for this position. Finish off by briefly talking about your goals.
If you’re asked a negative question, always try to answer with a positive response. For example, if your contract was terminated in your last position, say that this has given you the opportunity to look for a new and challenging role, with the prospect of expanding your experience while learning different skills and meeting new people. If the question is concerning any weaknesses that you might have, respond with a weakness that you’ve overcome and explain how you did this.
Sometimes an interview can become quite conversational. Always try to stay on track, still relating everything you say back to the position that you’re interviewing for. An interview is never just a general chat, you’re always being assessed. Never discuss controversial subjects like politics or religion, if you feel the conversation could be heading down this route, try to steer it back on course.
While it’s tempting, don’t talk about pay. Save these conversations to have with your recruitment consultant. Your consultant will work hard on your behalf to negotiate the most competitive rate possible.
Towards the end of the interview, you’ll usually have the option to ask your interviewer a question. You can use this opportunity to address any concerns that the interviewer might have about your suitability for the position. “Do you have any concerns about my ability to do the job?”. This will give you the chance to tackle their concerns and sell your skills and experience more. Here you could also mention any achievements that you wanted to mention during the interview but didn’t have the chance too.
Other questions that you could ask your interviewer include:
- Why does this vacancy exist? Are you at the planning stage or has the project already started?
- What about timelines, project phases and planned date of completion?
- Do you follow any specific project methodology, or a variation of one?
- What would be the biggest challenge facing someone coming into this role?
- Who are the project sponsors and major stakeholders I would be facing off to?
- What are the team like, how is it structured?
- Is there sufficient buy-in from the business including the teams likely to be affected by any change?
- Are there any challenging political relationships I should know about?
- Assuming project delivery is on time, are there any future projects in the pipeline?
- What are the short/long term goals for this position/department?
- What do you enjoy about working for this company?
- When can I expect to hear your response? Are you seeing many other candidates?
After your interview
Make sure to ring your consultant as soon as possible to let them know how you found the interview, if you’re interested in the position and if you’d like to work at the company.
Let your consultant know how this role ranks against others that you’ve interviewed for, if there was anything about this job that you wouldn’t want to do and if there was anything that you wanted to ask your interviewer, but didn’t get the chance to. Your interviewer will often call your recruitment consultant after the interview to find out your feedback.
With your feedback, your consultant will be able to reinforce your interest in the position and keenness to start. Your consultant will also be able to answer any queries that your interviewer might have that were possibly not addressed fully during the interview.
Try to tell your consultant your feedback as soon as possible – any delay might be looked upon negatively by your potential employer.
Finally, good luck!