And the Best Way to Follow up If You Want the Job

Todays guest blogger, Andrew Argue, is an entrepreneur, podcaster, writer, CPA and founder of  Find Your First Accounting Job The Bean Counter, an online magazine dedicated to helping students and young professionals achieve success in their accounting career. 
 
Before going into your next accounting interview, be sure to remember the following three principles Enthusiasm, Curiosity, and DONT be weird! Its important to remember those principles prior to beginning the question and answer portion of the interview. 
 
When you begin to ask questions about the open position, youll want to remember to stick with as many open-ended questions as you can and then be an *active* listener while the interviewers are responding. I always encourage people to look the interviewer in the eye (but, dont stare), have a light smile (try not to look like the Cheshire cat), nod your head (without being a bobble head), and ask follow-up questions to the response if possible.
 
Being able to remember and coordinate all of these tasks in your head while remembering the three principles can be a daunting task.  It takes time to master, so practice with friends and videotape yourself if necessary. It also helps when you ask about things that youre actually curious about like clients in the office, professional development opportunities, community service and group happy hours actually, save that last one for another time.
 
Another important point to remember is that its okay to clarify information to which youre unclear. In other words, you can ask the same question to multiple interviewers if it is something that is really important to you. However, you should not ask all of the same questions in each interview. The interviewers will find out and it could be a mark against you.
 
Below I have outlined several questions that can be used in your next accounting interview. Please keep in mind that I havent included every possible question that could be asked, but instead chose questions that will help you stand out against your competition. Secondly, try not to ask all of the questions below in one interview. Try to stick to three or four per interview and follow up with each when appropriate.
 
Questions for your next accounting interview:
 
  1. What is an initiative that company management/leadership has been focused on over the last year and how has that affected you and your teams?
  2. What type of opportunities does your company have for professional development and training?
  3. How much say do the employees have about working on certain clients/industries/projects?
  4. What are the major projects or initiatives your team is working on today?
  5. What are the most important skills and attributes a candidate needs to be successful in this position?
  6. What are the characteristics of a successful employee in your organization?
  7. What are the most challenging things about the job?
  8. What would a typical work day look like in this position?
  9. Can you tell me a little bit about the evaluation process at your company?
  10. What are the common attributes of people who really excel at your company?
  11. What are a few things that really drive results for your company?
  12. If I were to be hired, what do you expect me to accomplish in the position?
  13. What has been your favorite part of working at this company?
  14. What are the major clients in your office?
  15. What is the next step in the interviewing process?

Following Up

Following up after your interview is extremely important and sets you apart from others being interviewed. When I was working on proposals in public accounting, one thing that I learned is that when youre selling something, its important to have as many touch points with the potential clients/customers/buyers as possible, while maintaining the three principles above and not being *weird*. Its no different when it comes to selling yourself to a potential employer. 
 
My personal advice is to connect with your interviewer the same day, right after the interview, through LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great networking tool! So, after the interview, sit down for 15 or 30 minutes and craft a great follow-up email. Need an example?
 

Dear Sally,

Good morning!

I would like to thank you again for the interview yesterday.  Your comments about the work-life balance that your company promotes and the fact that a majority of the clients in the office are in the xxx industry have increased my desire to work for KPMG.  As we discussed in the interview, I have attached my unofficial transcript as well as a digital copy of my updated resume.

I look forward to hearing from you! You can reach me at (813) 468-3735.

Best regards,

Andrew Argue

 
As you can see, the follow-up email is not very long. People in accounting work hard and the fact is that they just took a whole day off to interview you as well as other candidates. Its not necessary to send them a three-page email. Also, even though you wrote the email right after the interview, be sure to wait to send it until around 7:30 AM the next morning. Put it in draft mode in your email account and then set your alarm clock so you can get up and send the email.
 
Sending the thank you note will dramatically increase the rate and timeliness of the interviewers response to you. What is the first thing people do when they go into work? They check their email! So, set yourself up to having the best chance of getting through to them!
 
Also, keep in mind that its important to send them whatever documentation they ask from you. Some companies require a cover letter to be submitted through their online portal. Seem like a hassle? Just do it! If the difference between you getting the offer and you being dropped out for *next recruiting cycle* is that you didn't submit something they asked for, then perhaps you didn't want the job that badly. 
 
One last comment on follow-up thank you notes - I often get asked, Andrew, can I submit a hand-written letter? Even though a hand-written letter is a kind gesture, the answer is no. Snail mail is simply too slow, so stick with email. You dont want to miss out on hiring decisions that happen quickly. 
 
- Andrew Argue
 
More about Andrew: Andrew has written for Going Concern, one of the top accounting news and entertainment blogs. Prior to starting The Bean Counter, Andrew began his career with Cott Beverages in Tampa, Florida. He started as an IT financial analyst working on an SAP implementation and IT financial reporting controls. He also spent a three-month rotation at a technology start-up in Singapore. Andrew then began his public accounting career as an external auditor for PwC. After joining PwC, Andrew spent a year on the Beta Alpha Psi International Board of Directors, presenting speeches on behalf of PwC at conferences across the United States. Andrew graduated from The University of Tampa with both a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Accounting. You can reach Andrew by email at andrew@thebeancounter.com.