If you have been lucky enough to be selected for an interview with one of the Big 4 firms; EY, KPMG, Deloitte or PwC, you have already done an exceptional job and you are now nearly at the finish line. The interview is the final stage in the recruitment process and the outcome will be determined by your performance here, as well as the other various stages. It is important to be prepared for your interview as this will help ensure you perform well and impress the interviewers. These are some tips to help you achieve success in the interview.
If you haven’t had an interview for a while and you feel like you really need to brush up on your interview technique, mock interviews can be a good way to prepare and get you ready for the interview. If you know someone who perhaps works in HR or has experience in conducting interviews, ask them if they wouldn’t mind practicing with you. Alternatively, just ask a friend or family member if they can listen to you and offer some feedback. Candidates often fail at interviews just because they are out of practice and forget what to expect during an interview, mock interviews are a great way to ensure you are ready for the day.
Don’t make the mistake of turning up to the interview without conducting thorough research on the company, as you will be asked questions about what you know and why you want to work there. Research the values of the company and any recent news or developments they have had. It is also worth finding out a bit about the interviewers, if you have their details. LinkedIn is a good platform for finding out about the interviewers. Who are they and what position do they hold? Is there anything you can say to relate to them? For example, have you studied at the same University or worked with the same organisation before? If you find some relatable information, you don’t need to say you checked their LinkedIn, just mention the details at some stage in the interview. We tend to form connections more quickly with people we can relate to and this will give you a better chance of success with your interview.
Remember to read through the interview invitation carefully well before the interview. You may be asked to prepare a presentation or to bring along your CV/resume and your qualifications. In some cases, they might request that you bring along ID and other relevant documentation. It is not a good initial indication of your attention to detail if you haven’t read through the material properly. It may seem like an extremely small matter, but when you are up against competition and the employer is taking a chance on you, these things all create an overall picture of your character. If you are unsure of anything to do with the interview, don’t be afraid to ask the recruiter. It is much better to ask than to turn up without meeting the requirements.
If you have a portfolio which showcase your work in some way, it is a good idea to take this along to the interview, even if you haven’t specifically been asked to do this. At this stage, the interviewers can only judge on your performance in the tests and what you say at the interview, they don’t have any evidence of your work, and if you can bring this, it could help your chances of success. Of course, this will depend on the type of role you are applying to, and whether this will be relevant. If it’s applicable to the role, it will help impress the interviewers, especially for organisations like PwC, Deloitte, EY and KPMG.
Although there is no way to know exactly what the interviewers will ask during the interview, make sure you take time to practice answers to some of the most common questions you could be asked. Even if a variation is asked of one of the questions you have prepared, you will still have a suitable answer ready to go.
You will always hear about the importance of dressing well for an interview, and this is a particularly prevalent for a role within a professional organisation. First impressions really do count and you want the interviewer to know that you have taken care with your appearance and made a real effort. Make sure you plan your outfit in advance, as this can end up being an additional stress you don’t need. Keep your nails clean and tidy, wear minimal jewellery and clean your shoes. These all count towards making a great first impression.
Something as simple as being a few minutes late for an interview can really affect your chances of getting the job. If you turn up late, it’ll show the interviewer that you have not prepared your travel and they will be concerned about your ability to turn up for work and/or meetings on time. Make sure you have prepared your travel arrangements in advance and you know how long it will take you to get there. Aim to arrive 15 minutes earlier for your interview.
The interviewers are not interested in candidates who have clearly just practiced and memorised the interview, they are looking for authenticity and someone who will fit in well to the team. It is important to be friendly and personable, don’t forget to smile – even if you are feeling panicked inside. The interviewers know it’s a nerve-wracking experience, they expect you to feel nervous, but just make sure you also keep a positive front.
One of the main parts of any job within the Big 4 firms; Deloitte, KPMG, EY or PwC is the ability to communicate well with others and build relationships. The interviewers want to know that you can communicate clearly and concisely and this starts with the interview. Take your time when answering questions, think about your answer and speak clearly and concisely. There is no rush with your answers, you are not on a timer, so just take your time. Communicate with the interviewers in a professional way, don’t use any slang words.
Body language is always important during the interview. Keep your back straight and avoid folding your arms in front of your body, as this can seem defensive. Be open with your body language and maintain eye contact throughout the interview. Not just with the interviewer, but with the full interview panel.
Although you should be doing most of the talking during the interview, you should also be actively listening to the interviewers. If you don’t listen, you will end up answering the wrong questions or having to ask for questions to be repeated. Communication is a two-way street, it’s not just about your ability to speak clearly, but also your ability to listen. Active listening is about maintaining eye contact and showing signs that you understand what is being said, for instance, by nodding. Understanding when to speak and when to listen are fundamental in the ability to engage and building strong relationships.
If there are gaps in your CV, you can expect the interviewer to pick up on these and query them, so make sure you are prepared to be able to answer any questions related to it. The interviewer will be looking to see that you were doing something positive while you were out of work. You may have been travelling, studying or if you were just looking for work, put a positive spin on it by saying what you achieved during this time, even if it was a personal achievement, rather than a professional one.
The interview is the chance you really get to sell yourself, and as such, it is important that you let the interviewers know what’s great about you and what you can bring to the company. It can be difficult to really sell yourself, but this is what the interviewers want to hear. Be confident in yourself and don’t be afraid to talk about yourself confidently. It’s not boastful, the interviewers will be looking for candidates who believe in themselves. Even better if you can back up your responses. For examples, you have increased sales within an organisation, or you have developed new procedures. Evidence based responses will always have more impact.
Just as you would follow up after a business meeting, following up after an interview is a good way to reinforce your interest in the role. Send a thank you email or letter reinforcing why you want the job and what makes you a good candidate. It may be that you are up against just one other person and the interviewers are struggling to decide, and by doing this, it could give you a better chance of being selected. It is always worth following up and thanking them for their time as it shows that you are a polite, appreciative type of person.