Interview advice

The interview process can seem like a daunting prospect to a newly qualified accountant, especially as for many the only interviews they have ever done were the ‘milk round’ interviews which are certainly not typical interviews. After extensive research on the topic, including speaking to hundreds of hiring managers and HR professionals, we have carefully compiled the most important factors to consider when entering an interview situation:

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Prepare

The best way to be confident in an interview is to be well prepared. Nerves can be a part of the process and many people get them. As long as they don’t stop you from explaining your experience well then they can be seen positively. Below are four key steps that will help guide you through the process:

Step 1: Speak to your recruitment consultant

Your recruitment consultant should be able to advise you on what responsibilities the role entails (more than what is on the job spec), the structure of the interview, who will be interviewing you and even what approach they take in interviews. They should also be able to cover off the company culture and tips on the right areas to focus on for the particular role.

Step 2: Research the company

Visit the company website. Use Google to find out more about the company online. Look up any recent news about the company. Look up the hiring manager’s LinkedIn profile to review their past experience.

Key areas to research:

  • Company profile
  • Latest published financial statements
  • Future plans
  • Who are their competitors
  • Recent press releases

It can also be beneficial to use your own network to gain valuable insights into the company or more specifically the division for which the job you are applying for.

Step 3: Know your CV

This is the most important thing you can do. Make sure you know your CV inside out. Make sure you can answer any questions relating to your previous employment, reasons for leaving jobs, and your experience. If you can relate what you are doing currently to the tasks of the prospective job then this is great, if not then at least your levels of enthusiasm, confidence, and competence in your current role will present you in the best possible light and make you attractive to any employer. Practice out loud, speaking through your experience. Prepare for giving a high level overview and then also a more detailed explanation.

Step 4: Presentation

Give a good first impression. Dress professionally, you usually don’t need bring anything unless asked. Arrive on time, or 10 minutes early is fine. If you are late for good reason call someone to apologise and let them know, but remember this does happen and it shouldn’t be held against you if you have given notice. From the first person you meet at the door to the last person that lets you out, maintain a friendly, well mannered and professional approach. A firm handshake, a smile, and good eye contact are the key things to remember. Also remembering people’s names is important.

Common questions

Depending on the organisation and who you meet, there will be different interview structures and questions. The most common first round interview setting will contain a member of HR, and a hiring manager. These interviews are a mix of competency questions, run through your CV, and more in depth technical questions about your experience and transferable skills to the role at hand. Also, remember that a job interview is a two-way process and you should have your own questions prepared.