This is normally a two-stage process but some service lines and offices will combine a first and second stage into one. The first stage interview will be a video interview. You will be sent an email with information about the type of questions you should expect and will be able to complete a few practice questions before getting started. Should you be successful, you will then progress to the assessment centre where, among other tasks, you will have a second interview with either a senior manager or partner. This is predominantly a competency based interview. It is a good idea to think of different examples from extra-curricular activities, work experience and your education that demonstrates your strengths and skills, so that you have some in mind to draw on in your interview.
Both of Smith & Williamson’s interviews will look at your motivation for a career at the firm as well as the service line to which you are applying, so don’t forget to do your research as to why you want the job, why you have chosen the particular office to which you are applying and why Smith & Williamson appeals as a firm.
The firm makes it easy for you to do this research. Each office has an individual news section on its website, so make sure you check this out. For example, you could mention Smith & Williamson’s new partnership with BennBridge for Asian funds and discuss the implications of this. Equally, each service lists recent publications of interest and news. If you have expressed a desire to join the assurance and business services team and work in London, for example, it would be good to know a little about recent events in this sector.
You will also be asked about commercial awareness – but do more than just read the front page of the paper on the morning of your interview. Make sure you can show you have thought about how current news stories and ongoing economic issues may affect the role you have applied for, the firm and the industry as a whole. This is an important factor in the interview and is where a lot of people fall down. The firm wants to see that you have 'a genuine interest in business' and are 'committed to and enjoy meeting challenges, both those of our client business and your own career development'.
... and other competencies
Throughout the interview, remember that Smith & Williamson is looking for 'people who are able to work both independently as well as being strong team players with the ability to work effectively with others, both from their own and other departments within the firm. This means that you can get to the heart of our clients’ needs and provide tailored and effective solutions.'
Come to your Smith & Williamson interview with questions – it shows you are interested and want to learn more. The firm’s recruiters expect you to have a good understanding of the job you’re interested in but they don’t expect you to know everything. Think of these in advance – if you’re nervous on the day it can be difficult to think of them on the spot.
Be prepared for discussion
Should you be invited to a second stage interview this will be with a partner and will be more far reaching; it could feel more like a discussion than an interview at times. Offer opinion where appropriate. Show some personality…but don’t divulge everything that happened on Saturday night!