As an accounting major, you probably know that the end of August doesn't only mark the end of summer, but also the beginning of recruiting season: the biggest time of year for you to get a jump start on your accounting career. After attending Meet the Firms and filling out job applications, you could receive an email/call/notification that says you’ve been selected for an interview. Congratulations! Now, how do you prepare for that interview? Here are some tips I put together based on my experience as an accounting major who just landed a job at one of the Big 4!
1. Do additional research on the company’s values and mission statement
Each company has its own unique culture and philosophy that defines who they are. In your research, focus on the company’s mission statement or values. They will give you an indication of what the firm is looking for in an ideal candidate. If the company values teamwork and integrity, then tailor your interview answers to demonstrate your ability to work in teams and highlight examples of when you acted with integrity. Interviewers are looking for candidates that will be a good fit for their company, and tailoring your answers to fit the company’s mission statement does just that.
2. Understand the interview format
Will it be an in-person, video, or phone interview?
- For an in-person interview, dress appropriately, be on time, and wear minimal fragrance. You can read more on best practices for interviewing here.
- If your interview is a virtual interview via Skype, Google Hangouts, etc., then check to see if you have the proper software and hardware needed way ahead of time and test to make sure it works. Once you do, set up your video interview accordingly. Try to call from a place that has low background noise, good Wi-Fi, and few wall decorations so you can maximize the interviewer's focus on you. If possible, do a test run before the interview by video calling a friend or family member.
- For a phone interview, try to call from a place that has low background noise and a good cell connection. Also, do a test call with a friend or family member to check to see if your call quality is in good shape. I once did a phone interview with bad cell connection, and it was a disaster. Lastly, dress in interview clothes for your phone interview. Don’t get me wrong; I live in my pajamas and sweatpants, but dressing in interview clothes for a phone interview can help you get into the interview mindset. Get more tips on how to ace a phone interview here.
3. Practice as much as you can
- Practice answers to common interview questions like “Can you tell me about yourself?"
- On glassdoor.com, you can find interview questions from past interviewees. Before I interviewed with a firm, I prepared a list of questions from glassdoor.com, and surprisingly the interviewer asked me a few of the same questions.
- Schedule an appointment with a career counselor do to a mock interview. This will be very helpful and takes talking to yourself in a mirror or with a friend to another, more professional level! Doing a mock interview with a career counselor improves your skills and they will give you constructive feedback.
- If it helps you, prepare a script that you can recite to yourself when you are practicing. Then, the more you practice, minimize your use of the script so your speech sounds more fluid rather than rehearsed.
- Bring a few copies of your resume. Occasionally, an interviewer doesn’t have your resume to reference during the interview, so bring a few copies just in case. Also, having extra copies of your resume may be beneficial to you if you’ve updated your resume since you submitted your job application. If you’ve updated your resume to include a new accomplishment or job experience, bring an updated resume to give your interviewer. This will also spark a conversation about your new accomplishment(s), so take advantage of this opportunity!
4. Plan your transportation a few days or a week before
First impressions are extremely important in the recruiting process, so get to the interview on time. That means planning logistics ahead of time rather than on the day of. How will you get to the interview? Is there any traffic you will encounter? Have the bus schedules changed since you last traveled on the route? If possible, practice your transportation to the interview once. Planning out transportation in advance will lessen your stress on the big day so you can focus on your interview answers.
Getting an interview with a company means you've made the cut! Prepare well and good luck!