So what are the top tips after experiencing 500 finance interviews?

October 23, 2017 3 mins read
So what are the top tips after experiencing 500 finance interviews?

As a recruitment consultant specialised in finance and accounting, my job is to deal with finance professionals every day, helping them to understand the job market, introducing potential opportunities to them and more importantly, provide helpful feedback on how they performed during an interview.

In the past, my perception of finance  professionals was quite stereotypical, thinking that all of them possess  serious, rigid and policy-driven personalities. However in last four years, I got to know many finance professionals and some of them have become very close friends of me. They are a group of smart, sensitive, logical thinking people and they do know how to have fun.

The Shanghai finance market has matured in recent 20 years. The earliest batch of Big 4 professionals traced back to mid 1990s and most of them are working either as the senior partners of CPA firm or Finance Directors/CFOs in big MNCs. This group of capable professionals are leading from the front and are now important business partners. That is not a simple achievement for many finance professionals.Over the last four years,  I have met over 500 professionals who have had interviews and below is  as list of to tips which will give you the competitive edge.

  • When interviewer asked you to give an introduction of yourself or your career, they are observing your ability to summarise. Normally your interviewer expects you to give a short pitch around 3-5 minutes. It is not a long biography or simply list of what you did. Instead, that would be the chance for you to “sell” with your unique feature relevant to the position
  • Use “STAR” Model to tell the story. Situation, Task, Action and Result. No point to go into too much detail by introducing how you setup a company step by step within 1 hour interview.
  • Prepare for your most exciting achievement in past working experience. Make it real exciting story instead of a list of facts and figures.
  • When interviewing with Big MNCs, prepare yourself with some project management experience. For finance candidates, it is common to lead some ad hoc projects in big MNC environment
  • For FP/A professional, you should know your industry at an in-depth level. If you cannot analyse your industry, company strategy, competitor insights, 3 year plan, etc, how could you convince the interviewer that you could be a good business partner to drive the business?
  • If you took leadership to complete a task, use “I lead” instead of “we”; if you are just one of the team members, use “ I participated” instead of “we”; It is not shameful to be a participant and sometimes, interviewers are observing your team work; There could be a many stories about how you support your leader and colleagues.

As a  finance professional, your daily work may not require many pitches or sales activities so my advice would be to treat the interview  as a task and practice it with your friends and family. Practicing your interview responses will enhance your interview skills and provide you with a better chance of getting the job offer. 

As your Career Ally, we are at Morgan McKinley, we are here to provide you with helpful career advice such as interview coaching and top tips. For further advice, please contact me or one of my colleagues and we’ll be delighted to hear from you.


Marlon Mai's picture
Marlon Mai
Managing Director, Greater China