What not to say in a graduate finance job interview

There are some things you could fall into the trap of doing in graduate finance job interviews that really won’t do you any favours.

Giving it the big “I am”

Those stereotypes you see across the media of a typical City professional don’t really strike a chord in reality. Confidence is important for finance professionals, of course, but storming into an interview with a head the size of a small elephant, blathering on about how you’d be the best thing to happen to the company since they got started is not the way forward. Cockiness and bravado just won’t go down well in a finance job interview. This isn’t the eighties!

Trying to be great mates with your interviewer

Rapport is important, but don’t be overly chummy with your interviewer. No matter how familiar you may be with the firm by the time you reach the interview stage (you could have followed their recruitment route from an insight day up to a spring week and summer internship before you reach this point), it’s important to not get ahead of yourself and keep the formalities of the situation. By all means let your glowing personality shine through, but don’t get too cocky.

Challenging the interviewer on why they are asking a particular question

A finance job interview can feel like a grilling, but there is method in the madness! Interviews in this industry are designed to put you under pressure and see how you cope. So if you get asked a close-to-the-bone question about a particular grade you got back in school, for example, answer in the best way you can and don’t challenge them on why they’re asking. It’s the same with questions that feel really off the wall. Such questions are designed to test your logical and numerical reasoning under pressure. Some of them might sound a bit ridiculous, but if you spend less time quizzing yourself—or even the interviewers—on why on earth they’d ask you to estimate how many Union Jack flags there are in the UK, you’ll have more time to focus and give a half reasonable, always logical, answer.

Outlandish statements

Yes, you may have experience and have completed the firm’s hallowed internship programme, but you’re not there yet! It’s still going to be some time before you’re reeling in mega-deals for the firm or bank, and before any of that you’ll have to get through the interview!

Talk about what you know by describing how you’ve learnt it through your internship or other work experience. You can create mini-stories around this, which describe how you learnt about something, how you learnt how to deal with it, and how this gives you confidence in your ability to perform well in similar situations in the role you’re going for. It’s a rational way of talking about your abilities at that point in your developing career and your potential without plucking out crazy, obnoxious statements from thin air.