We recently caught up with Manan about securing a role with Smith & Williamson, how he built up his commercial awareness before the interview and his top tips for Bright Network members looking to follow in his footsteps.
What stood out to you about Smith & Williamson?
Smith & Williamson are a top 10 UK accounting firm. Applying to a reputed firm gave me confidence that I would get the right opportunities and experience to develop my career. Their training programme also assured me that I would get the much-needed support to study further and complete my ACA exams to become a Chartered Accountant. I was also impressed at the firm’s attempts to be as diverse and inclusive as possible.
How did you build your commercial awareness before the interview?
I always like to keep up to date with the news, specifically with what’s going on in the business world. I had read stories about what’s happening in audit, as that’s what I will be specialising in. I read many articles from the Financial Times, The Economist and even the BBC. I wrote down brief summaries of what I could talk about, and it came in good use as employers are always checking to see if you are aware of what’s happening in your field.
What would be your top tip to members going through the application process?
Familiarise yourself with the application process so there are no surprises. Focus on what their requirements are and try to tailor your answers to match them by thinking about how you meet their criteria. Online testing can be draining and affect your overall performance, so take small breaks in between. I would also recommend researching the role and knowing what is required from you, making sure that you are happy with it too.
How did Bright Network help you secure this role?
In July 2020, I completed Bright Network’s Internship Experience UK Professional Services stream. It gave me a great insight into the different roles in the finance function. It also provided me with great networking opportunities with people of different levels of experience.
The internship experience also equipped me with great talking points in interviews, especially as I had no prior experience. I had a good understanding of the different roles available and why the role I applied for was the best fit for me.
What’s been the toughest interview question you've faced and how did you tackle it?
The toughest interview question that I have faced is, “What’s your biggest weakness?” This was a tough question as they were asking me to say something negative about myself. However, I was able to put a positive spin on it and talk about how I am working on it to turn it into a possible strength.
What top three tips would you give Bright Network members looking to follow in your footsteps?
- Do your research about the role and company.
- Be genuine as this will show in your responses.
- Don’t be disheartened by rejection, see it as an opportunity to develop.