You're attending an interview for a finance job. The interviewer is looking at you askance, like he wants you to say something special that will transform your prospects and deliver you a job offer. What could it be? Try this...
1. "How can I help this business develop?"
"The ideal candidates are those who can demonstrate that they’re thinking about what they can do for the hiring company, and not what the hiring company can do for them. “What you don’t want is for a candidate to centre the entire interview around themselves,” says Oliver Rolfe, managing partner at Spartan Partnership Executive Search. “You want candidates to be asking what they can bring to the business.”
2. "I've been offered a promotion in my current role, but I think the time has come to move on."
Interviewees also don't want to hear that you're unhappy in the job you're doing now. Nor do they want to hear that you've been treated unfairly, that your boss and colleagues are idiots, or that you need a rest before taking on this great new role.
"Candidates should steer clear of being overly negative about their current employer," says Kumaran Surenthirathas at the front office search arm of recruitment firm Eximius. "Rather, candidates should speak about the positive impact that they have had at their current employer whilst explaining how a move would directly benefit their career and new employer."
3. "I'm happy to leave all the negotiations up to you."
This is one for when you're having a preliminary interview with a recruitment firm. Recruiters would rather that candidates desist from contacting line managers directly. "We recently had a candidate who insisted on calling the line manager and demanding that he contact his own boss to pin down the job offer," says one recruiter. "That kind of behaviour is counterproductive," the recruiter adds. "Candidates forget that line managers don't spend all their time recruiting. If negotiation is required, it's better to leave it to your recruiter as they're experts in closing deals when it comes to job offers."
4. "I've had interviews with Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and Citi, but I feel your strategy is the best."
You need to make your interviewer feel special. You also need to show that you're in demand. And you need to show that you understand the strategic terrain of the company you're joining and can provide some insight into competitors' plans. This sentence does it all.
5. "I'm confident that you'll know the appropriate job title and level for me at your firm, so I'm happy for you to decide where I'll fit in."
Job levels are a problem for recruiters and hiring managers. If you're an associate one and you refuse to accept a new job as an analyst three, even though your level of experience is more appropriate to the analyst role, you will cause some headaches.
"People tend to be quite fixed in their opinions about the level they should be hired into," says Andy Pringle, managing director of recruitment firm Circle Square. "That's difficult because some banks can be quirky about promoting people - they might offer an associate role to an analyst two. Those 'false-associates' will then refuse to move for anything other than a similar job title - even though no other bank will hire them at that level."
And if these five utterances don't get you a job? Pringle says you can always try the magic bullet: "I'd be happy to work for six months without pay - as long as you pay the recruiter's fee for placing me."