GUEST COMMENT: What to do when your investment banking interviewer is inept

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When you get the call to interview with firm X and meet with person Y, you might think that person Y would ask relevant questions to evaluate whether you are qualified for the role.

You may well be wrong.

The truth is that very few financial institutions train their employees to interview candidates. Most interviewers don’t know what to do or say, and they may not have interviewed anyone for a long time.

Therefore, they resort to the same safe questions that everyone dreads: Who are you? What do you want to do? What is your five-year plan?

As a candidate, however, you can actually use this situation to your advantage.

If someone is asking you generic, boring, interview questions, it is your opportunity to steer the conversation in the way you want. You need to start being proactive. Ask some probing questions of your own: what are their priorities, what are they looking for in a candidate?

Steer the conversation in a way that highlights your own accomplishments. Before you go into the interview make a mental checklist of the points you want to communicate about yourself. Try to steer the interviewer in the direction of questions that will allow you to express these points. Aim to have three key selling points that will help you to win the role.

Needless to say, you must not appear overbearing, or contemptuous of your interviewer. It’s all about taking control, subtly.

The author is an American MBA currently working in Asia. A version of this article first appeared on our Singapore site.