Preparing for Interview
First impressions count
We know pensions professionals are intelligent and often attend meetings, but it is always a good idea to remember some of the obvious rules:
- Don’t be late.
- Make sure you prepare and research.
- Dress business smart.
- Think body language and eye contact
- Be positive and demonstrate you are likeable.
- Don’t lie or embellish the credentials on your CV.
How do I prepare for a job Interview?
Research, preparation, looking professional and being engaging will be key points to your interview success. You need to demonstrate your ability to do the job, and consider that other people are competing for the same job, so ask yourself ‘how will I present myself to ensure that I am offered this position.’
Interviews with in-house pension’s teams or with third party providers give you the opportunity to make an impression and the preparation will help you find out more about the vacancy and the company culture.
Think about all the reasons why you are attending the meeting and consider what you have to offer as a pension’s administrator, pension manager, Trustee, Consultant or Scheme Actuary and you will convey this. This is your opportunity to find out about the structure of the team, the manager you will be reporting to, the career opportunity and your own progression.
What is an employer looking for?
TPAs, Consultants, Actuarial firms, Independent Trustees and In-House pension departments use the interview process to ascertain knowledge, skills, qualifications, team fit and willingness to contribute. They also want to understand your career goals, establish how you communicate, consider how you will manage client meetings and then test your loyalty, trustworthiness and suitability against the pension vacancy you are applying for. It is always helpful to think about how you will explain and demonstrate your experience. For communication consulting jobs it is suggested that you take examples of your work.
We are told there is nothing more disappointing as when a candidate oozes enthusiasm, yet they do not know the most basic facts and figures about a company.
Look at the firm's website it will give you valuable information.
Read any press releases and Google the company.
Check out profiles on social media www.linkedin.com
Read the job description and make sure you understand the job requirements.
Dress Appropriately - You should always wear business attire, even if you are aware that the company has a casual dress policy. We are sometimes advised of tattoos, so cover them up and remove facial or tongue piercings.
Location – Plan you route, parking and make sure you have satnav postcodes, directions and a map. If you are using public transport check the timetable.
Time – Being late can mean being turned away before you’ve even got passed the reception area. Allow additional time, if you are early you can get a coffee and if you are unavoidably late, call the interviewer or BranWell Ford on 01279 859000 at your earliest opportunity and explain the circumstances giving a clear indication of when you think you will arrive.
Demeanor - Be polite to everyone that you meet, you may be in discussion with the Managers niece or nephew.
The handshake - When introduced remember, smile, stand up, eye contact and a confident firm handshake. If you are naturally shy, practice with friends.
Nerves – These not common, but remember your CV has resulted in an interview so there is already a positive impression of you before you enter the room. Senior Pensions Staff, Pension and HR Managers gain absolutely nothing from a poor interview so they will make an effort to put you at ease and start the meeting with some general conversation. Be amenable to this as this is an important time to build rapport with the interviewer and if you are offered a drink, accept it, you may welcome a sip to consider an answer to a question.
Body language – sit comfortably, upright and try not to cross your arms.
How to answer interview questions
You will be asked a variety of questions about yourself, the pensions industry, and your experience.
"Tell me about yourself?" the most common interview question.
Your answer should be interesting, succinct and ideally related to work unless you are directed in a different direction. Try not to ramble and get side tracked about personal views, hobbies and family as the question is often used to ascertain your personal qualities.
Be ready to discuss both short and long term career goals as well as the reasons you left previous jobs. Remember your responses have to be honest but be mindful of negative comments about work colleagues, managers or the company itself.
Concentrate on the employer’s needs. If you have specific experience that meets the requirements of the job description, make this very clear to the interviewer, as this will be a firm reason of why they should hire you.
When describing your past responsibilities and accomplishments, aim for clarity, honesty and provide answers that demonstrate your skills by giving relevant examples.
Be specific in your answers. Avoid rambling or going off on a tangent.
Ask for clarification if you are unsure of the question.
Your end goal is to have an engaging discussion, so if you are talking about past successes, the more you can clearly describe the experience, the people involved, the challenge and the solutions, the more you’ll stand out in the interviewer’s mind.
Do mention the types of meetings you get involved with, and give examples of the subject matter, the discussions that take place, who attends, who takes and distributes the minutes.
SAMPLE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Here is a list of some typical interview questions you should expect when being interviewed for a job in a pensions company, put some time aside to consider how you would answer these.
- Why did you choose the pensions profession?
- Why do you want this job?
- When did you start to take professional qualifications?
- What do you know about our company?
- Why do you want to work for us?
- What can we offer you that your current company cannot?
- Are you on interview at one of our competitors at this moment?
- What do you do on a day to day basis?
- What was your greatest success and how did you achieve it?
- What has been your biggest failure?
- Who are our competitors?
- How do you handle criticism?
- How do you work with others?
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
- Give me an example of when you took the initiative to solve a problem?
- What motivates you or what are your career goals?
- How do you get on with your last manager/colleagues?
Examples of competency based interviews?
The style of ‘competency based’ interview will challenge you on your answers and so expect more questions from the interviewer asking you to provide examples or explain the situation and could you have handled the particular situation differently to change the outcome. It is common to also ask what you learned from the experience.
- What proactive steps have you taken to make your workplace more efficient and productive? Specifically describe a policy, project or system you created or initiated.
- Describe a high-pressure situation you had to handle at work. Tell me what happened, who was involved and what you did in terms of problem solving.
- Some situations require us to express ideas or opinions in a very tactful and careful way. Tell me about a time when you were successful in this type of situation?
At the end of an interview
If you are interested in the position, show your enthusiasm about the company and the prospect of working for them.
‘I really do like the sound of this position because……........... it will provide me with more exposure to clients; there is supervisory requirements; there is scope for training and real career progression’.
Thank the interviewer for their time, ask when you should expect to hear if you have been successful for the next stage.
Call BranWell Ford
When you come out of your interview, call your Consultant and let them know your thoughts on the meeting – 01279 859000.