Even before your final year of college, you need to start preparing yourself for life after graduation. This includes working on your CV, researching your options, and gaining potential network connections. Although getting your first job may seem like a scary process, with preparation it will become easier.
By being efficient in your job search and following a few basic steps, it will increase your chances of landing a job, even if it isn’t a job you stay in. The important thing to remember is that not many people get hired for their dream job immediately—and it is okay not to know which career path you want to take—your experiences and life skills will help you to map out your future. You never know, your dream job may not be what you thought it was either.
Today, there are numerous sites such asLinkedIn andVested which can be beneficial to those looking for a job. These sites are dedicated to professionals and can help connect you to endless networking opportunities. They can also be used as a digital CV or portfolio tool, which is accessed by potential employers.
However, be mindful that social media can also have its downfalls. Do not assume that your online presence is private because it is not. So when posting those drunken party pictures to Facebook, keep in mind who may be able to access them. Your new boss may not appreciate it.
Don’t be afraid to ask for references. Be proactive and ask for any recommendations that you can put on your CV. Your college tutors or sporting coaches can provide potential employers with valuable insights into the way you work and think.
Although it may be tempting to apply for lots of jobs in different fields, this can have a negative effect and make you look uncommitted and unfocused. This is especially true if you are unsure about where you want to be in life. Be mindful of conveying such uncertainty in your application or interview.
It is important to remember not to compare yourself to others. Everyone has different strengths, weakness, and goals in life. Don’t worry what your friends are doing; what job they are doing or path they are following may not be right for you.
Have courage and confidence to do what you feel is right, don’t settle for an average job in an industry you don’t want to be in, and don’t allow others to make you feel guilty about your choices. You have your whole life ahead of you and lots of wonderful experiences to have and interesting people to meet. Some that will shape your future; you never know which of these opportunities may be the right fit for you.
Following your heart and being happy in what you are doing is important, no-one wants to look back in later life and regret the choices they made. If you want to take off and travel the world, or flipping burgers makes you happy, it is your life to live the way you want to.
You are in your thirties and asking yourself: How to change careers at 30?
Professionally you have come a long way since you began your career. Gone are the days that you are the newbie with a supervisor looking over your shoulder and double checking your work. You now find yourself in a position of responsibility, perhaps with an impressive title and people reporting to you, or managing key accounts and clients. After years of study, training, sleepless nights, successes and failures, you have made it, or are at least on the path to making it.
But suddenly after all the hard work you put in to reach this point, you find that you no longer have the same hunger and passion for your career. Where has the love for the work, the ambition, your dreams, and plans gone? Is this the mythical midlife crisis? Just yesterday you thought that you were on the right path, but now the idea of your job leaves you empty on the inside.
Time has passed, and you might have discovered new talents, new interests, new hobbies, making you understand that you are not the person you wish to be. Everyone remembers that as kids they wanted to be veterinarians, astronauts, or the president. But as we grew up and experienced life, these dreams changed. Despite being an adult in your 30s, you are hopefully still growing, and just as you realized a career in space exploration was not right for you, so too might you realize you at age 36 your current career trajectory is not the right one.
What should you do if you’re pondering a career change in your 30s?
First, answer this question: “is your life about your career or simply living the way you want?” Although you should follow the call of your heart, the cold reasoning of your mind is necessary for such responsible decision-making. If you know for sure that you need and want to start a new career, think about it very carefully. You need to be cautious, but overthinking is a not a good idea.
Suppose you are in a room, and you need to choose a door to move forward and maybe escape. Will thinking show you the right door? Of course not! You will never be able to account for every possible factor and every possible scenario. It is simply pointless to just stand there and think about the right choice. But you can act right there and then and choose a direction. You can return if you think your choice was wrong. The important thing is that you do not stay in one spot endlessly, and take steps towards your goal.
But do you know your desired career?
It is a very important thing to realize. You shouldn’t make hasty decisions, remember, just yesterday you thought everything was all good with your career. It doesn’t mean that you should stop acting altogether. The point is, you need to be flexible enough to realize your needs and capabilities at any point in time to be able to counter the tides you are swimming against.
You need to try new career opportunities and look for ones that suits your needs right here and now. If you are afraid for your financial stability, you should look for ways of doing trial and error without quitting your job. Alternatively, you can switch to a half-time job or look for other similar ways to create some free time for your search.
Be aware that you might not find your dream job on your first try. Try to utilize your passion for shaping your life to your advantage, let it push you forward. Learn about the profession that interests you, try to connect with people working in your dream job through friends, relatives, and networking. You need to gather as much data as possible to make the decision right for you.
While you should never abandon your dreams, be careful of setting unrealistic expectations and career goals. Such dreams are bound to fail, and the disappointment of such a failure might discourage you from making any changes. Be passionate, but cold-minded. There is no need to rush. Motivational quotes are a good thing, but overconfidence can be a serious weakness.
After gathering information, meeting people, conducting research, and studying, you need to act decisively. If you are sure about your decision, start slowly, but take active steps towards your dream job.
A very good way of confidently changing careers is working with people who, like you, are also looking for a new job. You will work together, share ideas, inspire and push each other, and move together towards your dream jobs. It doesn’t matter if their interests are different. Your combined spirit and desire to change is a strong stimulus to your activity.
Don’t think that your temporary uncertainty and desire to change your job is a shameful thing. Our whole life is about adaptation, and you don’t need to be afraid if you feel something is changing in you or around you. Meet the need to change with open arms. Be passionate about the future even if you don’t know how it will turn out to be tomorrow. Don’t let sudden variations put out the fire burning in your heart!
It’s never too late for a career change, especially as a thirty year old working professional. So instead of sitting around and asking yourself “how to change careers at 30,” take action and sign up with Vested.
The big four-oh is not only a milestone personally but professionally. Around this age, people are usually well-established in their chosen field, with a title and salary commensurate with their experience.
However, many people reach this point in their career and aren’t where they want to be. Either they have reached a ceiling in their career they cannot crack, or the path they thought they wanted to be on as a 22 year old straight out of undergrad, is not the same one they want to be on as a forty something with a couple of kids at home.
Maybe the issue isn’t even about work, but general angst about getting older or regrets over past decisions. While we here at Vested cannot offer you much help dealing with your midlife crisis, we can offer you some practical advice if you are thinking of making a change mid-career.
Develop the right mindset
First and foremost, you need to stop thinking about the desire to change as a bad thing. Life is not about staying still, and it is perfectly acceptable that you are changing and moving forward. You should never expect that things will remain unchanged over time.
Could you have known in your youth what would happen the next day? Not with certainty. How is it possible for you to foresee events decades in the future? So, don’t regret your past decisions. They might have been right back then, but now you have to take new steps in accordance with your current situation.
Experience is an asset
Changing careers, you may be anxious about competing with young employees that have skills you don’t and a willingness to work for less money and fewer benefits. But there is an attribute that young people are unlikely to have, but you do have in abundance: experience.
Your age might close some doors for you, but your experience is a powerful differentiator in the interview/hiring process. There are many jobs that a relatively inexperienced young people would struggle with while a seasoned professional could handle the responsibilities with relative ease.
For example, look at the job of teaching. In your forties, you have years of classroom experience and more life experience in general. You might be better suited for lecturing in a university or school than your younger colleagues. Your age is a trump card in such cases because you have simply had more time to experience the world than the newbies.
Consider other options
Perhaps after years of working 9 to 5, you have grown tired of the same routine and want a different, more flexible arrangement? One way to achieve this is to become a consultant in a field related to your specialization.
Consultancy is very much in demand as it is much easier to “buy” other people’s experience than invest money and create skills and knowledge among new workers.
Don’t think that your twenties are the only time to choose a career. It is never too late to develop new skills. You can gain go back to school or enroll in a training program.
Many online programs offer the flexibility of completing training at your own pace and schedule for little or no cost. Some employers are also willing to hire employees if they have a demonstrable skill (for instance, coding), without an actual degree or certification.
Rely on your network
Another advantage to mid-career switches is all the contacts you have made over the years. Ask them for advice, reference letters, introductions, and whatever other help they are willing to give. Go on LinkedIn.
Research, try to understand what you want to do. Maybe your contacts will give you a hand in your searches for a dream job. You might even discover people who want to switch jobs like you. They might be uncomfortable about their ideas at first, but your cooperation may boost the confidence of everyone.
Look for success stories of people who became successful after age 40. Stan Lee, the former executive vice president and publisher of Marvel Comics, created his first comic when he was 39. Actor Samuel L. Jackson’s career had a true rise at age 43 after taking an award-winning role in the film Jungle Fever. Henry Ford created the Model T car when he was 45. Barack Obama, the former president of the United States, became a millionaire after republishing his book Dreams from My Father at age 43. These and numerous other stories are about people discovering themselves not in their 20s or 30s. They just felt that their life needed to change.
Discover your desires, concentrate on them, meet new people and be connected with your friends, be decisive. Do not think about a possible failure. Will it be better if you do nothing out of anxiety? Certainly, you should be careful and realistic, but that doesn’t mean that you need to spend months thinking about changes without acting. In your forties, you should know that achieving anything is not easy. Just let your dreams drive you forward and reach for your new goals!
Getting older can make you feel like life is slowly passing you by and you’re living day-to-day in the same old job. We start adapting to lifestyle changes and this can have an impact on our working lives too. However this doesn’t have to mean that your career is over, there are still plenty of options and different career choices, which reduce the amount of physical labor, or number of working hours.
This can feel a little scary as society focuses more on the younger generation. Those who are older think that they are now past it and that their dreams and goals no longer matter. Thinking this way is outdated and it is never too late to follow your heart and find your dream job.
The older you get the more experience you gain and this is valuable to employers. With experience brings skill and knowledge, which is something that the younger generation has yet to gain. Your age is a plus point because it means they can leave you to get on with the job, you don’t require as much training as someone who is younger, and you can train others too.
An average person has approximately 10 jobs by the time they are 40 years old. This could be due to being fired, personal circumstances change, or you quit. So in the near future, you may be looking for a new job. If this happens, it will be scary, nerve racking, and in some cases devastating. But this is a chance to start fresh and do something new and exciting, these challenges should be embraced.
It may also be the opportunity to consider going back to college and gaining some new qualifications; you might amaze yourself and be able to turn that hobby into something profitable. As well as boosting your CV, you have also now opened up a whole load of new opportunities and experiences.
More people now have to work until their seventies and beyond because they are living longer than before. Does the prospect of being stuck in the same job for the next 10 or 20 years, maybe longer fill you with dread? The answer should be no, but for many, this is the case and it doesn’t have to be. All you have to do is take the risk.
No matter how old you get, you can still achieve your goals and get that dream job you have always wanted, especially as we are now living longer you have nothing to lose by giving your dreams a shot. It probably won’t be the last thing you do, so there is no need to worry about your retirement.
Whether you are in your twenties or early sixties, failure is still painful. But what is more painful is waking up one day and realizing you didn’t take that chance and it slipped away. Have the courage to look fear in the face, follow your heart and your dreams will follow.
Take for example, revenue growth. At a large company, you’re likely focused on yearly revenue growth. At a startup, you measure sequential growth over a monthly or weekly time period. And for good reason – given the power of compounding, hitting 10% monthly growth targets will create a 3x larger business within 12 months!
How Finance Professionals Create Value
The start of our careers are marked with executing tactical tasks such as weekly or monthly management reporting. Over time, finance professionals set themselves apart by becoming leaders and informing business and product strategy. To do this you’ll need to understand the right financial metrics for your business. There are clear differences between how large companies measure financial metrics vs. the tools you need to grow a startup.
Large Co. vs. Startup Financial Metrics
The Two Metrics That Matter: CAC / LTV Ratio and Cash Burn
1) The Fundamental Law of Growth
Most tech B2B or B2C startups (with some notable exceptions) must eventually obey the Fundamental Law of Growth which has generally been accepted as LTV/CAC > 3. The LTV/CAC ratio speaks to a startup’s revenue trajectory, capital needs, and in turn, how much “irrational exuberance” is demanded of its investors. The lower the LTV/CAC ratio, the less efficient a company is at deploying capital and the more capital it needs to sustain itself and its growth objectives; conversely, the higher the LTV/CAC ratio, the more value it creates for the same amount of capital. Empirically, there are reasons that 3x is roughly the minimum threshold needed to build big, sustainable businesses.
2)Cash Is King
“In some sense the negative free cash flow will be an indicator of enormous success.”; Reed Hastings
Reed Hastings believes that Netflix’s negative free cash flow (-$2.5 billion expected for 2017), a result of investing in a tremendous library of content, will lead to the company’s success over the long-term. Most startups operate with the same philosophy but fail to realize that they are unlikely to duplicate Netflix’s track record for 20+ years (100 million subscribers!) and access to the debt and equity markets (for now). So what does that mean for a startup that’s currently burning through cash every month? Essentially, when you are in a cash burn (FCF negative) position, a company has to rely on investors (or in rare cases, banks) to fund the next few years of its life.
Both of these concepts are extremely important and over my next couple of posts I’ll talk about how as a finance professional, you can tactically identify these two metrics as ways to improve your company’s value.
Check us out at Vested, when you’re ready to meet your next accounting and finance pro or drop us a line at [email protected].
The Definitive Guide to Interviewing Finance and Accounting Pros
Interviewing for an open position can be a frustrating experience. And yet – some of the most transformative changes happen to an organization when you hire the right person. The interview process involves a lot of art mixed with science; in other words subjectivity. As finance professionals, that’s something that isn’t natural to us.
We reached out to our network – C- and VP-level finance executives from the Fortune 500 and prominent startups and asked them what technique(s) they’ve used to identify the strongest candidates. Here are the 5 most common lessons we heard.
LESSON #1: Use a Test-First Approach If you are looking to hire an entry-level accountant, you should look for someone who you can project as your next controller or CFO, not a highly paid bookkeeper.
Let’s admit it, with automated systems, the mechanics of the job have gotten a lot simpler. You’re looking for someone who can and wants to become a strategic partner to the org and not just input numbers into Netsuite.
So practically speaking, that means you need to adopt a ‘test-first’ approach.
Don’t be shy about testing before you even bring the candidate on-site. For example, provide a scenario where a business undergoes a business model shift and ask detailed questions about the financial or accounting implications
Our favorite technique came from a CFO of a well-known startup: Hi Steve – I’ve always asked my candidates to go to a whiteboard and walk through our company’s P&L. The test shows me who’s done their research on our company and can ask the right questions to get to an acceptable answer.
LESSON #2: Look for Candidates on a Journey
Most reasonable people understand that switching jobs every now and then is common for a variety of reasons, especially at startups. In that sense, your role is never a destination nor do you want a candidate that thinks that way. Pay attention to the clues that separate the high performers from the average ones.
Have you ever heard a candidate say “I’m thinking about getting my CFA”? A person that is used to getting things done will use more productive language: “I’m studying for my CFA Level 1 which I’m taking in September.” That’s the language of someone who has a plan. Those types of candidates are the ones that will transform your team.
Here’s the thing, you’ll see clues in other places too:
Promotions or changes in job duties on their resume
Speaking about wearing multiple hats not particular to the role
A successful shift in career path in the past
Genuine and specific accomplishments about current or previous jobs
We loved these questions: “What did you accomplish in the past that you never thought about achieving” & “What do you consider yourself world-class at?”
LESSON #3: Make the Offer Competitive Be upfront about the starting salary before you meet the candidate and make sure that it’s in-line with the market. We’ve personally seen companies that view the finance role as a back-office function and really limit the budget for the role. Put it this way, for a team that is responsible for the strategic deployment of resources, a high-performing candidates will pay for themselves many times over.
Here’s an anecdote that really resonated with us:
“We hired this really ambitious AP/AR specialist. One day he was auditing invoices and found that we were paying for 600 Google enterprise licences – 3x the number of licences than employees working at our company. We were able to correct it the following month and he earned half his salary right there.”
LESSON #4: Don’t Overemphasize Cultural Fit This is literally the most overused term in all of recruiting. It’s one of the hardest terms to define. Just look at the various problems with interpretations we’ve encountered:
Does the potential hire need to attend “Happy Hours” to be a “fit”
Does the person crave instruction and require 9 to 5 working hours? That’s not a lack of cultural fit, that’s a fundamental misunderstanding on how to drive value at an org.
Is your candidate a micromanager and you need them to scale a team? Then that’s a person not suited to the requirements of your role.
The term “cultural fit” needs to be a more defined term. The best companies are the ones that really emphasize the notion of a collective desire to succeed. Hire the person who clearly understands the specifics of the job with the ability to work alongside various personality traits.
LESSON #5: If All Else Fails, Play The Long Game
Some of your best candidates will not take your job offer for one reason or another. Don’t take it personally; but if you really liked them, stay in touch. Here’s what one startup CFO had to say:
“I’ll say, ‘Let’s grab a breakfast or a cup of coffee and i’ll ask them what are you up to? And we’ll cultivate that. I may continue to meet that person every couple of months for six months. And then I bump into them at some point and that’s the moment they’re ready to make a move.”
Check us out at Vested, when you’re ready to meet your next accounting and finance talent or drop us a line at [email protected].
Before making the jump, first assess where you are in your career. If you are just getting out of college, a startup would be a great place to begin your career. At the early stages of one’s career, it’s important to be open and explore different possibilities. Especially for anyone dubbed as the “millennials,” most young people these days will experience multiple career paths before settling on one. If you start at a startup, you’ll gain valuable exposure on how to run a business, and have multiple responsibilities. You’ll learn if you’re into marketing versus operations, or perhaps you will get excited about financial reporting. For people straight out of college, a startup is a great place to “startup” your career.
For others considering a jump into the startup world, they’ll likely have a few more years of experience. Some could be vice presidents in a major corporation and have been stricken by the “what-if bug.” What if I joined Facebook back in 2004? What if I took that plunge and taken on that lowly Operations role at a taxi company called Uber back in 2010? For experienced professionals, it’s not an easy decision, and it’s important to have the right framework before ditching your cushy corporate gig. Here are some things to consider:
Would you invest in this company?
For experienced personnel, a startup company will try to lure you with options or shares of their company. Often, this equity piece comes with a salary reduction. Even if you don’t get a salary reduction, you’ll likely take a hit in benefits. Most startups don’t have matching 401Ks. They don’t offer discounts at the local gyms. You won’t get a corporate card. Some startups don’t even have decent health insurance. So a chunk of your benefits will come from those options they’ll dangle in front of you.
How would you value this company? Is their target market big enough? If they were publicly traded, would you invest in this company? As an experienced professional, especially for finance executives, it’s key to think like an investor.
Do you see yourself playing ping pong at midnight with this group?
Startups often lack enough personnel to handle all the responsibilities. This means you’ll be ask to take on more responsibilities than you’re used to. So are you ready to work more hours with less pay?
You’ll have a lot of late nights with your team at a startup. It’s a stop and sprint culture, meaning you’ll work on long hours on an analysis. Then stop to have a break and regroup with your team, usually in a game of table tennis or a session of Monopoly. Then right back into whatever analysis you were performing. If you don’t like the people you’re with, it’s going to feel like a long day as you grind through those long hours.
What stage is the startup?
The stage of the startup influences the amount of reward you’ll get for your time. However, a late-stage startup can also provide a more stable environment as they’ll likely have the typical benefits found in established companies. They’ll also likely to have more personnel to help with day-to-day activities.
Depending on how much risk you’re willing to take, it’s important to know what stage the startup is in.
What about family?
For experienced professionals, they often have a wife and kids to care for. At a cushy corporate gig, it’s easy to collect a fat paycheck to pay the mortgage, buy groceries, set aside money for the kids’ college education, and pay the monthly on the two cars parked in the driveway. Corporate gigs aren’t sexy and don’t have as much upside, but they are stable.
If you do decide to make that plunge into the startup world, you’ll likely have to sell your home and move to San Francisco or to New York. This means a return to the city (assuming you’re living in American suburbia), where it is more crowded and expensive to live. Are you comfortable uprooting your kids from their school? Are you comfortable letting go of those two Audi station wagons? Will your wife be okay with your late nights at work?
Even if you aren’t married, it’s still a big decision. Since you’ll likely live and breathe the startup, you won’t have time for living “La Vida Loca” on Tinder.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
It’s a staple question that gets asked in any interview. It’s so simple yet so applicable for anyone, pondering a move to a startup. It’s even more important for experienced professionals to know what they want to get out of the experience. There’s a reason people are attracted to cushy corporate jobs. They pay well. They pay the bills. You get a corporate card and an army of support to churn your reports.
But there is a certain appeal to work in startups. You’ll get to work on edgy stuff that can potentially revolutionize society. Jeans on Fridays turns into “Jeans Everyday”. There’s beer in the fridge at most startups. Finally, the most appealing part of working in a startup is to understand what it takes to run your own business. If being your boss is a dream of yours, then a startup is good place to start.
Business Insider compiled a list of the strangest interview questions that candidates received while interviewing for jobs at some of the nation’s top companies.
While it’s fun to ponder your answers to these questions, your focus in preparing for your interview should be on developing responses to the following 20 common interview questions. These are standard questions asked at companies of all types and to employees at all levels.
What are your strengths?
What are your weaknesses?
Why are you interested in working for us?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
What can you offer us that someone else can’t?
What are three things your former manager would like you to improve on?
Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
What is your dream job?
What would you accomplish in the first 30/60/90 days on the job?
Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.
Why are you looking for a new job?
Give a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.
Who are our competitors?
What was your biggest failure?
What motivates you?
Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.
What are your career goals?
What are some of your leadership experiences?
What questions do you have for me?
We hope you have found this list of questions helpful. Remember the interview is not just an opportunity for an employer to learn about you, but for you to learn about the company and your co-workers.
So be prepared to answer any or all of these common interview questions, but not to the point that you sound overly rehearsed. The interview should be a conversation, that hopefully concludes with you being offered the job of your dreams.
Politicians have mastered the art of presenting information in a way that is most flattering to their point-of-view. This is especially true when numbers are involved — see President Trump talking about his inauguration attendance figures or the GOP Congress discussing the costs of the ACHA.
Numbers are cherry picked to emphasize their argument. While we would argue that it’s best to not emulate the worst traits of our politicians, they do offer some insight into how numbers can be used to enhance your prospects as a job candidate.
Finding the Hidden Numbers
Figures almost always add power and credibility to what you claim on your resume, especially when you are applying for a finance job. Let’s say you worked on a special project or initiative such as implementing a new Accounts Payable software.
Make sure you quantify the return on investment (ROI) by thinking of the software investment (monthly cost) vs. time it saved your company multiplied by the rate per hour. What about other costs such as missed invoices and late fees? Add those to the figure and you’ll probably come up with a pretty impressive figure for your resume. You can do this same process for anything, no matter how mundane it may seem.
Put it Into Ballpark Figures
As finance professionals, we often think that the more detailed a figure is the better it looks on our resume. That being said, often times we can’t always determine a precise amount, so go with a ballpark estimate.
Most hiring managers will be ok with a safe, lower estimate and state it in terms like, “Approximately $5,000 annually.” This gives your prospective hiring manager a sense of the magnitude of the impact that you had on your prior organization.
Avoid the Ridiculous
Yes, there’s a limit to all this. Something may look great on a resume, but think of how it will sound when someone asks about it in the interview. For example mentioning that you “increased company profits by 200%” opens yourself up to questions including “what specifically did you do to increase profits?”
If you don’t have a detailed strategy and operational roadmap for how you achieved this, your prospective interviewer will remain very skeptical of your prospects. Make sure that you always filter your claims through a common sense filter.
When to Leave the Numbers Off
Sometimes it’s best to leave the numbers off a particular resume entry. This is especially true when you’re talking about a relatively small amount. For instance, if by your calculations your efforts increased the average $2,000 sale by $10 over the course of a year, it’s going to be difficult to make that sound impressive (even though such a gain can indeed make a difference). In that sort of case, you’re better off putting it into terms like, “Increased average sales figures in key product line.” And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Look carefully at your resume and apply these methods to add power and boost its strength. You may be surprised at just how much your accomplishments can be enhanced with such techniques. Then the figure you’ll be pondering most is your resume’s enhanced success rate.
In a job interview, preparing for specific questions is not enough. If you want to make a great impression and stand out from the crowd, we suggest you follow the strategies outlined below.
Adapting these frameworks will put you firmly in control of your job interview and improve your chances of landing your dream job.
Develop Your “Elevator Pitch”
The average hiring manager interviews 8 people for every open role. The number is high enough that they generally have to go back to their notes to remember candidates. The exception is candidates with a strong elevator pitch. This is no more than 15-20 seconds about you, your background, or even your goals which answers the questions why they should hire you.
You should weave this into an early response — before you dive into something more factual. Offering a story or narrative that shows what a strong candidate you are helps you to rise to the top of the list of candidates.
Here’s an example:
Interviewer: Tell me about why you are looking for a new job?
You: I’m an accountant with 5-years of experience at fast-growing SAAS companies and have a passion for building accounting processes at a ground-level before companies really start to scale. I’m looking to move to an earlier-stage company where I can leverage that skillset and my interests, and believe this opportunity would be a great fit.
Read about the Company
No matter how prepared you are to talk about yourself, not knowing the essentials of the company you’re interviewing for conveys a lack of preparation and interest. You can’t show an interviewer how you’ll fit in the company until you know the company.
In this day and age, every company either produces content or promotes the content written about them by third parties (i.e. Techcrunch, Business Insider). Make sure you delve deeply into the company’s website or LinkedIn feed so you can see how they position themselves to their clients.
From this, you’ll be able to know who the leaders of the company are, their revenue model, and near-term strategic objectives. Pick something that grabs your interest and ask your interviewer about it.
The Briefcase Technique
This is an amazing technique that will absolutely set you apart from your competition. The following video provides more info of how and why this method works.
In a nutshell, you show up to an job interview with a written proposal describing what you believe a company’s pressing problem is and how you would go about solving them. Some ideas for this include:
Create a high-level 5-year model
CAC / LTV analysis based on your understanding of the business
Audit readiness roadmap
Map of chart of accounts
Don’t worry if any of these are not perfect, it is the effort and discussion that you want to foster.
Diligence the Job You’re Applying for
Get to know the job you’re applying for intimately before arriving at your job interview. Don’t just read the job description—study it and research every task required of you.
When you interview, framing your responses so that you reveal your significant knowledge about the job gives you a massive advantage.
Use insider information (via informational interviews ideally with someone in a similar position to your interviewer) to make sure you speak their language — if you are interviewing at a highly metrics driven org, then make sure you speak about KPIs that you believe they should be tracking.
Figure out the Company Culture and Position Yourself as a Great Fit for it
When you diligence the company, figure out what the founding/leadership team emphasize. Do they value ideas, numbers, or design? Once you know that, you can position yourself for the position perfectly and speak to it during the interview.
What makes you special? It could be that you’re an idea machine, or a statistical fanatic.
Whatever they emphasize in a job interview, you can prepare to fit it into your responses. For example, when an interviewer asks, “What are your strengths?” skip the clichés and go right into qualities about you that are unique to the job. You’ll make it clear that you’re the perfect fit.
Prepare a Story Behind Every Answer
While you should outline key points you will touch on if asked these questions, you need to be ready for the interviewer to ask a follow-up question like, “What does this strength look like in action?”
Prepare a story that really demonstrates your work or strengths in action. Make it simple, high-level, and relatable. And make sure you have a great punchline speaking to your impact.
Humans relate to stories which are often more memorable than just listing off facts. We’re confident that this strategy will leave an indelible impression far after your interview.
Practice, Practice, Practice
You, and everyone else interviewing for the job, already know many of the questions you’ll be asked. The difference lies in preparation. Preparing unique and position-specific responses will give you the competitive edge over everyone else.
You don’t need to memorize answers, but instead know certain points of reference about yourself that you can apply to different questions.
Make sure to “mock interview” yourself. Video your responses until you’re able to speak comfortably and flexibly—as opposed to rotely regurgitating answers—about your prepared topics. Videoing yourself will feel awkward when you do it, but it will pay off in spades.
Project a Relaxed, Calm, and Positive Demeanor
Your hiring manager or future colleagues will feel more comfortable with you as a potential colleague if you project a relaxed and calm demeanor. Humans are attracted to confident people and a telling sign of that is someone who is relaxed and calm.
If you show fear or anxiety, it appears weak — while interviews are nerve-wracking and anxiety-inducing scenarios, take a deep breath and do your best to stay calm and relaxed.
We also recommend that you smile when starting your interview; numerous studies show that smiling not only increases your happiness and confidence, but it also puts the people you’re interacting with at ease. This is mostly due to mirror neurons in the brain that naturally mimic other people’s expressions and emotions.
Pulling this off requires emotional intelligence (EQ), a skill that employers are increasingly looking for in candidates.
Good interviewers have a way of getting to the crux of who you are. They may have an innate sense for reading people, or they might just be really good at asking the right questions. Regardless, it’s essential to approach your interview with honesty.
If you interview as your non-authentic self, you’ll either not get the job when the interviewer sees right through you, or you’ll end up in a job that’s a poor fit. Don’t focus on what you think the interviewer wants to hear. Instead focus on giving an honest and passionate breakdown of what you have to offer.
Bringing It All Together
Let’s face it, interviewing is still tough. It’s hard to show who you really are and what you’re capable of during a quick sit-down chat. These strategies will help you to eliminate nervousness and anything unexpected that might derail an otherwise great job interview.