Fall is a busy time for many of us. The kids are going back to school, businesses are gearing up for year-end, and college students are getting ready to interview for their first post-grad jobs. Here are my top 7 tips for how to prepare for and conduct yourself during an interview.

Job Interview for Accountant

1. Research the company – impress the interviewer by taking the time to learn about their organization

Utilize the following resources to research the organization:

    • Newspaper and magazine articles
    • Recruitment/employment literature (often available in school library or career service office)
    • Call the company & ask them to send you some company literature prior to your interview
    • Annual reports
    • Internet (visit the company’s web site, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
    • Talk to others who work for the company

Below are recommendations on the type of information you can research about the organization:

    • When was the company founded?
    • Where are their corporate offices located?
    • What does the organization do?
    • What are its products and/or services?
    • Has the organization been growing?
    • What are some of the organization’s latest achievements or awards?

2. Know your skills and qualifications and how they relate to the position for which you are applying

    • Take time to identify your individual strengths
    • Write down your strengths and think of how these strengths can benefit the company
    • Create a list of things you have accomplished in your career to date (or accomplishments from school) that you are particularly proud of

3. Prepare a brief list of questions to ask the interviewer about the organization and position to convey your interest

Examples of questions to ask during the interview:

    • What are some goals for someone in this position?
    • What would you expect one to have accomplished in the first 3 months on the job?
    • What computer systems/programs would this person work with daily?
    • What is the company culture like?
    • What do you enjoy about working here?

4. Be prepared for questions an interviewer might ask

Behavioral-Based Questions

    • In your current position, what would be one accomplishment that you are most proud of and why? What specifically did you do to accomplish this? What obstacles did you run into?
    • In your current/last position, give me a specific example of how you dealt with a recent customer service issue/complaint? How did the customer react? Was the customer satisfied?
    • Tell me about a more challenging team project that you were involved with. What was the project? What was your role? How did the team function? If you had the chance to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

Fact Finding Questions

    • Tell me more about X?
    • What specifically did you do?

5. Practice, Practice, Practice

Role-play interview questions with a friend or conduct a mock interview with a college career service professional. It may seem awkward at first, but it will definitely help you to become more comfortable in the interview process.

6. Pay attention to your appearance

    • Dress professionally & conservatively – a suit is always best
    • It is always better to be over dressed than under dressed
    • Avoid displaying visible body piercings or tattoos
    • Keep your nails neatly trimmed and clean and avoid flashy nail polish or nail jewelry
    • If you wear a coat to the interview, hang it up (do not wear it during the interview)
    • Do not chew gum during the interview

7. Put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes

What hiring Managers are looking for in a candidate:

    • Verbal and written communication skills
    • Willingness to learn new skills (flexibility)
    • Evidence of achievement & participation
      • Community involvement – sports, clubs & organizations
      • Work experience
    • Personal qualities
      • Ability to get along with others
      • Positive approach
      • Confidence, neat, professional appearance, motivation
      • Clear & realistic goals, enthusiasm
    • Computer Literacy (MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Email, Internet)

Factors which may lead to rejection:

    • Overbearing, overaggressive behavior
    • Too soft spoken, timid, poor grammar/slang, swearing
    • Lack of interest/enthusiasm
    • Overemphasis on salary/job hopping
    • Being unwilling to start in entry level position
    • Speaking negatively about past employers & supervisors
    • Lack of eye contact
    • Arriving late for interview (Things happen – if you are late, explain tardiness upon arrival)
    • Poor personal appearance

I hope you have found these tips helpful, and look forward to a busy fall full of successful interviews!