Tip #1: Do Your Homework
Take some time to understand the firm you’re applying for and the industries they work in. The more knowledgeable you are when you walk into an office the better impression you’ll leave when you walk out.
- What is the size of their office (local, regional, national)?
- What types of clients does this company serve?
- Does the firm offer services beyond traditional core accounting?
- Reviewing the firms website for facts about the available position. Try to understand what their expectations are for academics, overtime, and work/life balance.
- Attending recruiting events and take notes. Trust us, recruiters are continuously updating their “hit list” of candidates after every event.
- Have questions prepared in advance. Ask about the firm, its clients, and the position you’re interviewing for.
Remember: you cannot over prepare.
An interview is your opportunity to demonstrate knowledge about the firm, learn more about the position, and make a lasting impression.
Tip #2: Dress to Impress
You only get one first impression, so do everything you can to make it a good one. From the clothes you wear to the body language you project, personal presentation is a vital part of any interview.
- If you’re not sure what to wear, it’s always better to be overdressed. You’ll never regret being the best-dressed candidate at an interview.
- Whatever you wear, make sure you feel comfortable and confident in your clothes.
- Never chew gum during the interview.
- Pay attention to the details. At some firms, even things like appropriate tie or dress length will be noticed. If you’re unsure and need some style tips, do some online research.
- Consider your interview like you would a business meeting. Over prepare and walk in with confidence.
- Be aware that every little bit matters, from how much cologne or perfume you’re wearing, to the added touch of a breath mint.
First impressions are hard to shake, so doing everything you can to present yourself as a professional is a step in the right direction. If you impress your interviewers as soon as you walk in the door, it’ll be even easier to impress them when you start giving intelligent answers to their interview questions.
Tip #3: Practice Makes Perfect
You’re not the first one walking into an interview, so why not learn from the successes and mistakes of those before you? Read up on tips, set up mock interviews, and answer practice questions so that by the time you walk into your first interview you’ll feel comfortable and confident.
- Search online for sample interview questions and create a list you think are likely to be asked. Then it’s practice, practice, practice until the answers become second nature.
- Practice with a friend that’s open to giving you honest feedback. You’ll find that after a couple tries your responses will really improve.
- Put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer and group your responses into three categories:
- An “okay” answer – what they typically hear
- A “better than average” answer – perhaps you included a relevant example
- A “Home run, knock ‘em down” answer – you indicated you truly understood the question and provided an organized response with relevant comments
- Learn from your previous interviews. Think of responses you weren’t totally comfortable with and research how you could have answered them better. Chances are you’ll be asked the same question again.
- Reflect on tough questions like, “Tell me about a weakness you’d like to improve on?” and develop answers that not only demonstrate that you are aware of your weaknesses, but that you’ve already taken steps to improve upon them.