Whether you’re on the hunt for your first accounting job or you’re a seasoned accounting professional looking for a job change, the thought of interviewing likely evokes a bit of anxiety. That’s because job interviews are your chance to showcase your best self– to let a potential employer see how your skills, experience, and education make you an ideal fit for the open position. It’s also an opportunity to demonstrate your personal characteristics– the fact that you’re a team player, for example– so that the employer can see firsthand how you’ll fit in with the organization’s culture. Of course, you’ve likely learned a great deal about what you should do during an interview– dress professionally and arrive early for starters– but what about things you should avoid at all costs? Let’s discuss some common–but not necessarily obvious– interview blunders below:
Not treating the interview as a two-way street.
Most candidates are so focused on giving the “right” answers that they forget that the interview process is actually a two-way street. That is, they let the hiring manager ask all of the questions, provide answers, and sit patiently waiting for the next question. However, interviews should actually be a business conversation, not a one-sided interrogation. So, while you want to answer all questions thoroughly, you also want to engage the hiring manager in a dialogue.
Giving generic answers.
Preparation is good. Being so prepared that you’re simply spouting out memorized, generic responses to questions, however, is not good. Let’s face it: the interviewer has likely heard it all before, so be authentic. For example, when asked about your greatest weakness, avoid the predictable “perfectionist” answer. Instead, focus on a skill that you haven’t yet mastered– but be sure to follow-up with the steps you’re taking to ensure that mastery comes soon.
Asking no questions.
While it’s fairly standard for a hiring manager to conclude an interview by asking the candidate if he has any questions, a surprising number of candidates fail to seize this opportunity to showcase their initiative and interest in the position. Don’t count on a question to come to you during your interview, either; instead, prepare two or three thoughtful questions in advance. Thoughtful is the key word here; avoid asking questions about vacation days or salary during this time.
Lack of preparation.
All too often, candidates spend a good deal of time preparing for an interview by learning every detail they can about the company they’re hoping to work for. This is important, of course; you never want to go into an interview without a solid understanding of the organization. But don’t underestimate the importance of researching yourself before an interview. While your resume lists your work experience, education, and skills, you will need to have specific examples in mind when going into an interview. For example, you might be asked if you’ve ever saved a previous employer money. A simple yes is not sufficient; you’ll be expected to provide detailed examples. You’ll also want to be able to readily discuss your accomplishments. These are all things that should be prepared and rehearsed prior to your interview.
Speaking negatively about a former employer.
Regardless of how wronged you feel by a former employer, an interview is not the time or place to air those grievances. Doing so will not paint your former manager in a negative light; however, it will likely call your professionalism into question. So, how should you address a less-than-amicable parting of ways with a former employer? If asked about it, you should answer honestly, but also diplomatically.
If you’re in the market for an accounting position in the San Diego area, contact us today to learn about available opportunities.