How to answer the most common interview questions

Got an interview coming up and need some help preparing? We've got you covered.

These simple and common interview questions are usually a missed opportunity. This is your chance to add value to your application by sharing relevant information about yourself and your career so far and, ultimately, convince them to hire you!

Tell us about your career to date

If you’re being asked about your career, you should have already decided, having looked at the job specification in detail and discussed it with your recruiter, what the most important and relevant factors of your experience are going to be. This could be things like:

  • technical experience with money laundering
  • managing a team
  • working on international issues
  • dealing with very difficult senior partners

You should spend some time putting together a list of the key points that you want to get across, and then it’s just a matter of making sure you hit all those points. This is your chance to tell them anything they've missed so far, and to highlight and expand on the most important parts of your CV.

If the interviewers are spending time asking about something interesting but irrelevant, just be ready to gently move the conversation back to where you want to be.

Why are looking to move?

This usually needs to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and we're always happy to help you there!

However, the core reason for most people usually centres around growth. For example:

  • career growth
  • skillset growth
  • new challenges
  • exposure to new Risk & Compliance issues
  • join a firm with a different profile

While you don't want to criticise your current employer, it's fine to talk about what your role involves, or rather doesn't involve. For example, you may be limited to one area of Risk & Compliance, or you might like to be involved in more conflicts risk rather than just anti-money laundering.

By approaching the question in this way you're acknowledging the positives of the new role you want, as well as explaining why you want it by noting the restrictions in your current role that are inhibiting your potential and ability to grow in your current role.

What are your weaknesses?

Let's get one thing straight, the answer to this question is NOT "I’m a perfectionist!"

This is not an acceptable answer. It’s extremely cliché, predictable, and it doesn’t add any value to the conversation. It’s just not the best answer to give!

Pick something that is in the past that’s an issue you’ve worked on and addressed, even if it is crucial to the job you’re applying for.

For example, perhaps time management has been a weakness in the past, and adapting to the demands of a new role and having requests from different parts of the business can make it difficult to manage your time. Let them know you’ve done A, B, C, and D to improve how you deal with time management and give examples, such as seeking clarification on prioritisation of things and always getting an understanding of any hard deadlines that are in place to make sure you are on top of those.

Tell us about when you’ve dealt with a difficult situation at work

The key to getting the most of out this question is to demonstrate how you put yourself in other people's shoes and empathise with their perspectives in the workplace.

While it's great to succinctly explain your thought process and actions in a difficult situation (remember the STAR method: explain the situation, action, task, and result), we can add even more value here by showing off a whole host of other qualities.

Let's imagine you have to tell a partner that they can’t take on a piece of work because there’s a risk associated with it that we can’t avoid. It's not about just telling them it’s because of a piece of regulation in the way (that’s just why you can’t let them do it), it’s about helping them understand why they don’t actually want to take it on either.

You've got to help them to see that, even though they may need this piece of work to secure a promotion or bonus, there’s a risk that they will get fined, lose their practicing certificate, bring the firm into disrepute. It's possible that three weeks down the line, they’ll have to stop working for the client and won’t be able to bill them anyway.

A 'difficult situation' always involves another person, and that's why it's difficult! You want to show that you're understanding of their point of view, but that you also managed the situation well and got them to understand why it's ultimately beneficial for them to comply.

If you'd like more help with interview prep (even if we're not representing you), give us a call on 0207 117 2542, email us at info@ajfoxcompliance.com, or message us on LinkedIn.

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Posted by: AJ Fox Compliance