Blaine and Associates

Blaine and Associates

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Interviews: The Subtle Mistakes

Putting feet up on furniture, answering the cell phone and wearing jeans and trainers: They’re some of the more obvious things everyone knows not to do when interviewing for a job at an investment bank.

But what about some of the subtler mistakes that could make the difference between you landing on the shortlist or not? We asked some of our senior interviewers from different business units to offer some insights. Here are the top 10 main mistakes they see.

1. Not doing the research

“It’s the single biggest and most common mistake made: Going into a job interview without having researched what the job involves, or what the division does. If you’re going for an Investment Banking position, know what deals the firm has done recently and be prepared to speak about their highlights.”

2. Not wanting the job

“Don’t tell us you’re applying for a particular job just so you can get a foot in the door for a different role. It’s OK to have a long-term career goal of working with external clients, for example, but you need to explain why you are interested in starting out in a non-client-facing position you might be interviewing for, how it fits your skill-set and helps your longer-term career objective.”

3. Padding the Resume

“Don’t put things on your CV that you can’t live up to. Everything on there is fair game, so you need to be able to elaborate on every line. If you say you are fluent in a certain language, then we’ll expect you can prove it.”

4. Not sending a thank-you email

“You should always send a thank you note after an interview, but don’t literally just say ‘thank you.’ The note should be short and to the point, but not that short! Use the follow-up email as an opportunity to solidify your pitch. Say that you learned a lot and you’re excited about the position. It shows you have sincere interest in the job.”

5. Not asking any questions

“There is no excuse not to have any questions to ask the interviewer. We will always ask whether you have any questions. Even if we’ve answered everything you want to know, improvise and work off something that was mentioned in the interview and say that you’d like us to elaborate more on a particular aspect of the position.”

6. Pigeon-holing yourself

“Sometimes someone will try to over-impress by showing their knowledge in a particular industry. If it’s a general position you’re going for, it could end up making you look as if you are not interested in anything else.”

7. Being too casual

“A lot of students build a rapport with our recruiters and interviewers and then in the interview over-step the mark and do something that’s just too casual. Be very polished—this includes dress code—you’re not meeting with a friend. We’re assessing how you would hold yourself in front of clients and other employees.”

8. Fumbling the obvious questions

“There are questions that are standard, like ‘tell me about yourself,’ ‘why our Firm’, ‘why this position?’ Have an answer in your head for these. It doesn’t look good if you can’t tell us about yourself. You really need to have an answer that explains why you differentiate our firm from the other banks and therefore why you have chosen to interview with us.”

9. Pretending to know something when you don’t

“You’ll end up digging a hole for yourself. You’re better off just asking the interviewer to elaborate, or even say you don’t know the answer but would like the opportunity to get back to them. Coming back in the thank you letter with an answer is completely acceptable.”

10. Not being yourself

“It’s important that you come across as authentic. Answer questions in your own words, rather than regurgitating a textbook response. It’s a nuanced point because you don’t want to be overly friendly… just be your ‘professional self.’ It’s OK to make small-talk to break the ice and build a rapport with the interviewer—just don’t go overboard and be too casual.”

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Newsflash: Your Cover Letter Doesn't Matter

by Phil Stott | September 28, 2015
Is crafting the perfect cover letter worth the time and effort you put into it? Not according to research conducted by the Addison Group, which surveyed hiring managers about the factors that are most important to them when assessing candidates. According to that research, just 18%  rank cover letters—or their equally antiquated cousin the thank you note—as important parts in assessing potential candidates.
That's great news for those of us with an instinctive dislike of self-promotion, and for whom the concept of a mandated piece of "proper" job search etiquette such as the thank you note seems downright phony.
So what truly matters in your job search? Your skills and your experience, which 51% and 54% of managers respectively identified as the most important factors on a resume.
But make sure that you're putting down work experience: hiring managers place much more emphasis on that than the school you attended or the volunteer work you've been doing. Those can help, but nothing is going to get you the job like, well, proof that you can do the job.
Before we cut to the infographic from the group, here are a couple of other interesting tidbits to consider:
  • 77% of hiring managers identify the reputation of your previous employer as important.
  • Only 40% of hiring managers place any degree of significance on your GPA.
  • But 55% think that typos are the worst mistake you can make on a resume.