Interviewing for a new job is often a nerve-racking experience, even for professionals who are seasoned in their fields. While every interview experience is different, there are some ways you can prepare yourself in advance. The more prepared you are going into your interview, the more likely you’ll have a positive experience. So, whether you’re interviewing for your first accounting job or are a long-time professional seeking a new accounting role, consider the following tips:
Do your homework. A recipe for an interview disaster is to walk into the building knowing nothing about the company you’re interviewing with. So, make sure to do your research beforehand. Check out the company’s website to learn about their products and services. Use social media to your advantage, too. Visit the company’s Facebook and Twitter pages to keep up with their latest news and announcements. Additionally, be sure to get the names of the managers you’ll be meeting with in advance; that way, you can visit their LinkedIn pages to learn more about them.
Prepare for potential questions. Of course, you’ll never be able to know every interview question in advance, but it’s a good idea to research some of the most commonly asked questions and prepare your answers ahead of time. For accounting jobs, some potential questions include:
- How do you minimize the risk of errors in your position?
- Have you ever been able to effectively reduce costs? Give me an example.
- Describe your knowledge of Accounting Standards.
- Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten?
Start off on the right foot. Make sure you’re dressed professionally for your interview, with conservative clothing and no visible tattoos. Allow enough time to arrive to your interview five to ten minutes early, taking into consideration outside factors like traffic. When you arrive, make sure to introduce yourself and greet everyone warmly– including gatekeepers like receptionist and security guards. While you wait for your interview to begin, take some time to mentally rehearse potential questions and your answers.
Be concise. A classic interview mistake is to get lost in nervous rambling. While you want to make sure you’re answering questions thoroughly, you also want to be concise. So, make sure to really listen first; don’t start forming a mental answer before the hiring manager has even finished asking the question. Then, take a moment to gather your thoughts before responding.
Give examples. An interview is not the time to stick to yes and no responses. When appropriate, make sure to provide specific examples that pertain to the questions asked. For example, if the hiring manager asks if you’ve ever performed a certain task, your answer might be, “Yes, I have. In my last role, I was responsible for handling…” and then give specific examples.
Don’t badmouth former employers. Another common interviewing blunder is to speak negatively about former employers. Unfortunately, the only person that reflects poorly upon is yourself. So, even if you had a less-than-pleasant parting of ways with your last employer, an interview is not the time to air those grievances.
Honesty is the best policy. While it might be tempting to spruce up your resume by adding some extra job responsibilities or slightly altering a job title, resist the urge. When it comes to interviewing, honesty is always the best policy. If you don’t possess a particular skill or have a required certification, be upfront about it. But you should also express your desire and willingness to learn.
Ask thoughtful questions. Before your interview, prepare a list of thoughtful questions to ask at the conclusion of your interview. Remember: thoughtful is the key word; don’t ask about salary or vacation days at this point. If you interview with more than one person, direct a question to each individual, addressing them by name. Then, within 24 hours after your interview, follow-up with a personalized thank you card or email.
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